Monday, 3 March 2014

What does the label say?

The other day I was drinking a 300ml bottle of sparkling mineral water. I'm a bit of a food label reader and since I've given up sugar, sparking mineral water makes a pleasant alternative to the juices and soft drinks which are usually on offer. The other dimension to my label reading lately is looking for where things are made and the origin of ingredients.

I noticed that the label said the ingredients were "Australian natural sparkling mineral water". When I turned the bottle around, the label said that this product was made from "local and imported ingredients". That was quite confusing. Some people suggested that it might be referring to the bottle or the label on the bottle. It seemed possible, but unlikely.

I decided to call Coca-Cola Amatil's consumer information line. I was presented with the usual raft of options to choose using the numbers on my keypad. I chose to speak to a consumer experience executive. I just wanted to see what they were like. In the meantime I noted that the web address included the words "live positively" and once there, the site explained their commitment to fighting obesity. As they sell sugar laden drinks.

Darren was initially confused about what I was asking and then realised that he had no answer. Refreshingly, he admitted this and said he would find out and call me back. Before we ended the call he gave me a reference number that was too long for me to write down anywhere. I didn't tell him that.

He called me back the next day with the news that there is an error on the label. I told him I was glad I'd called to bring to their attention the labelling problem. "Oh no, we've known about this for a while," came his reply.

That was the most interesting part of the conversation. I wondered about the organisation's commitment to truth in labelling and disclosure generally. I was surprised that one of the most brand aware organisations in the world was so lax about something like this. I'll be reading the labels very closely and seeing how long it takes to notice a change.

How quickly do you act to fix known problems? What message are small errors sending to your customers about your business?

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