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How to commit brand suicide (Or why you should know your customers)

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Ascension

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Recently we've heard stories of businesses losing their customers by treating them like garbage.

Now, a brave business has stepped forward to show us how to up the ante and lose customers by the millions with only a couple posts on social media.

The company I'm talking about is Rude Health, known for their various non-dairy milks. Besides the general health-conscious population (and those who simply want to mix it up a little) unsurprisingly vegans make up a large portion of their customers.

They decided to back dairy in their posts, ignoring their audience which is (often times strongly) opposed to dairy due to ethical, environmental or health concerns.

They received a lot of backlash but instead of explaining their position or letting the whole thing rest they decided to double down, trashing recent documentaries (and the scientific literature upon which they rest) as conspiracy theories.

I can only imagine what they were thinking, maybe they tried to appear more accessible to the general market by distancing themselves from veganism?

Either way, the result is that they already got dropped from certain supermarkets and now have a whole lot of ex-customers who became advocates against their brand.

Do you have any examples of companies engaging in similarly self-destructive behavior?
 
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Bulgano

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Recently we've heard stories of businesses losing their customers by treating them like garbage.

Now, a brave business has stepped forward to show us how to up the ante and lose customers by the millions with only a couple posts on social media.

The company I'm talking about is Rude Health, known for their various non-dairy milks. Besides the general health-conscious population (and those who simply want to mix it up a little) unsurprisingly vegans make up a large portion of their customers.

They decided to back dairy in their posts, ignoring their audience which is (often times strongly) opposed to dairy due to ethical, environmental or health concerns.

They received a lot of backlash but instead of explaining their position or letting the whole thing rest they decided to double down, trashing recent documentaries (and the scientific literature upon which they rest) as conspiracy theories.

I can only imagine what they were thinking, maybe they tried to appear more accessible to the general market by distancing themselves from veganism?

Either way, the result is that they already got dropped from certain supermarkets and now have a whole lot of ex-customers who became advocates against their brand.

Do you have any examples of companies engaging in similarly self-destructive behavior?

There are plenty of examples where companies have committed this behaviour but somehow won their customers over for whatever reason.
Examples:
  • Microsoft when it announced Windows 8/8.1/10. It was so "different" that their entire customer base shat itself, to a point where as of this day, some people still run Windows XP or 7 because of how bad the newer metro versions are.
  • Apple removing the headphone jack.
  • Mercedes removing it's widely loved ornament from the front of its cars and replacing it with a badge.
I could probably think of more, but I think these give a good example of no matter how hard you "screw up", you can always recover it. To this day people still buy products from the above even though they don't agree with their choices.
 

fhs8

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They decided to back dairy in their posts, ignoring their audience which is (often times strongly) opposed to dairy due to ethical, environmental or health concerns.

They are ignoring less than 1% of their audience so that they can cater to 200% more people.

I can only imagine what they were thinking, maybe they tried to appear more accessible to the general market by distancing themselves from veganism?

Horizontal expansion. Some vegans are also very vocal and those people are probably very small minority of Rude Health consumers.

Either way, the result is that they already got dropped from certain supermarkets and now have a whole lot of ex-customers who became advocates against their brand.

Which supermarkets did they get dropped from? I found no news of that.


Examples:
  • Microsoft when it announced Windows 8/8.1/10. It was so "different" that their entire customer base shat itself, to a point where as of this day, some people still run Windows XP or 7 because of how bad the newer metro versions are.

Actually the customer base was shrinking with Windows 7. Windows 7 was a failure. It was and still is more important for Microsoft to capture the laptop/tablet/phone market. They hardly lost customers with Windows 8. Market share has stood quite strong in the desktop market.

  • Apple removing the headphone jack.

Apple had to do this to make the iphone water resistant and it used valuable space and limited how thin the phone could be. It's actually impossible to have the headphone jack and a thicker Iphone 7 case at the same time. You can thank the headphone jack for causing bendgate on Iphone 6's.

  • Mercedes removing it's widely loved ornament from the front of its cars and replacing it with a badge.

It was never loved. They've listened to their customers and took it out because it looks outdated.
 
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ZF Lee

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The NFL going from the sports/entertainment/escapism market to a dogmatic liberal political sideshow.
Oho! I am not even American and yet the shit-show has been on my social feeds!

Good Lord...just play sports, not politics...

Where I come from, brand self-damage might come from a very well-known brand in my country. Old Town White Coffee...a breakfast place...started overpricing stuff and quality of food dropped. Got served a damn dry noodle with so little sauce and they didn't even seem willing enough to add more sauce when requested!

They recently came up with a bunch of new dishes and stuff, but they all seem like microwave, tinned food rehash.
 

WJK

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Recently we've heard stories of businesses losing their customers by treating them like garbage.

Do you have any examples of companies engaging in similarly self-destructive behavior?

The NFL comes to mind! And all these other silly businesses making political statements that have nothing to do with their core missions. There's a lot of businesses and people shooting themselves in the foot to make a point. Since stunts like this can put them out of business, we won't have to worry about them for very long.
 
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maverick

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Ascension

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  • Microsoft when it announced Windows 8/8.1/10. It was so "different" that their entire customer base shat itself, to a point where as of this day, some people still run Windows XP or 7 because of how bad the newer metro versions are.
  • Apple removing the headphone jack.
  • Mercedes removing it's widely loved ornament from the front of its cars and replacing it with a badge.
I could probably think of more, but I think these give a good example of no matter how hard you "screw up", you can always recover it. To this day people still buy products from the above even though they don't agree with their choices.

I would guess that in those cases the people were buying the brand because of the brand and/or because they didn't have good alternatives.
What are people going to do, not get a Windows computer? So it's still more comfortable to them to use an outdated version than to learn how to use Linux or pay for Mac.
The same way Apple customers rather want an Ianything than a headphone jack. And Mercedes doesn't produce the only good cars but their customers want a Mercedes.

Your examples show just how far a productocracy can take you and why we should all strive for one
 

Ascension

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They are ignoring less than 1% of their audience so that they can cater to 200% more people.

If they see their audience as the entirety of the American population I guess that's true. But currently, the vast majority of Americans don't purchase nut, oat etc. milks, boosting the percentage of vegans in their buyer base.

Also, I don't really see what they are trying to gain from that campaign, most regular consumers won't care whether they made a couple posts about dairy or not. To them, dairy is just a natural part of their life and probably pretty unnoteworthy, so the only customers reacting to the campaign would be those that are mad about it.

Which supermarkets did they get dropped from? I found no news of that.

The one I read about is The Vegan Kind Supermarket, turns out it isn't a supermarket but a UK-based online delivery service
 
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