After Ikea discovered that the company’s image is being hampered severely, it made a press release stating that the company is taking down all the meat products from its menu. It was found that the horse meat was traced back to a supplier in Sweden. Ikea then filed a police complain against one of the Swedish supplier. Ikea then apologized to all its customers that assured them of the fact that the trust of the customers is the utmost priority for the company. Ikea redesigned its supply chain and improved the quality control. This helped the company to be confident enough to re-release the meatballs in the cafeteria menu.
What did the company do well?
The best thing done by Ikea to deal with the situation was that it has a communication plan. As soon as the problem occurred, the company took the appropriate actions proactively before any other versions of the story appeared in the market. However there are many more options which could have been used by the company.
What could they have done differently?
Ikea could have used offensive response to embarrassment strategy. In reality, Ikea had no idea that it was selling horse meat and hence this strategy would have helped the company to minimize the influence of the accuser. The company could also have made a press release stating that there was not damage reported by any of the person who consumed the product. Ikea went ahead to accept the mistake. This act could have been avoided since it was not the company’s mistake alone. Ikea should have shown its concern towards this problem but it should not have felt guilty.
Lessons for future public relations
Considering future public relations, the company should not try to appear as a victim. Many of the top level authorities discourage this attitude. The company should also disclose the location and name of the suppliers so that in case of any unlikely event, the consumers know the area from which the product is being supplied. The company then need not give any explanations. Though the company was proactive in handling the issues but it was not able to handle the same on social media sites like facebook. In case of such situations, the company should launch a social media campaigns to fight with the rumors and the lack of awareness of its customers. The social media sites could have been used to propagate the steps taken by the company to fight with the situation.