Our group has selected BreadTalk (Singapore market) as the focus of our project.
Background and Analysis of Breadtalk
BreadTalk was founded in July 2000 by George Quek, with its first outlet situated at Bugis Junction. It is a designer confectionery store, well known for its designer breads and other baked goodies, especially its pork floss bun. Within a span of three years, BreadTalk and its founder received various accolades and expanded to 20 outlets in Singapore. Sticking to its designer confectionery brand image, BreadTalk would release several new creations every month to fascinate and draw new and current consumers. It plays on gripping designs and flavors and also uses eye-catching names for its food products such as ‘Spice Girl’ or ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Bacon’. Another point of differentiation for the brand is that it employs the unique open kitchen concept. Currently, BreadTalk is part of a larger conglomerate known as BreadTalk Group, which houses 8 brands across 16 territories around the world.
Unfortunately, in 2015, BreadTalk found itself surrounded by not one but two controversies – ‘Lee Bu Kai Ni (I Can’t Leave You) Buns’ and ‘Freshly Made Soya Bean’ scandals. In the former controversy, BreadTalk was criticized by the public for trying to ‘make a profit’ in selling these buns, presumably by leveraging on the ‘hot trend’ of people mourning the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. In the latter scandal, BreadTalk was at the receiving end of a consumer backlash when a photograph showing an employee filling BreadTalk’s bottles with Yeo’s soya bean milk went viral online. These two controversies have inevitably adversely affect BreadTalk’s reputation. This thus prompted our group to explore the aspect of BreadTalk’s crisis management.
Our research question is: How can BreadTalk use social media to perform effective crisis management within its Singapore market?
When the two crisis broke out, BreadTalk hardly engaged in effective crisis management. This is evident from YouGov’s polling results in 2015 which revealed that BreadTalk’s brand index (measured by “perception of quality, value, overall impression of the brand, satisfaction and recommendation”) fell to the negative range for the first time in 2015 after the two controversies. On its Facebook platform, BreadTalk only posted an apology post and was passive in responding to the negative comments made on its page. Its Twitter and Instagram accounts also made no mention of both incidents. Interestingly, BreadTalk only apologized to individual consumers who sent them ‘backlash’ tweets. The backlash that BreadTalk received from its consumers on both Facebook and Twitter accounts for the fact that BreadTalk’s consumers are active social media players and are thus highly influenced by words of mouth and online review. This is further supported by a 2012 Nielsen’s global social media report which indicated that more than two thirds of Singapore consumers use social media platforms or online reviews for basing choices on food related purchases.
Given the highly unpredictable nature of online controversy, crisis management within the social media platforms is thus of utmost important to BreadTalk. This is especially so when its ‘Freshly Made Soya Bean’ scandal resulted in another unexpected online spillover effect in which consumers began questioning the freshness of BreadTalk’s other food products on social media.. Consequently, effective crisis management would enable BreadTalk to mitigate negative effects and manage its image well in order to not lose consumers’ trust and confidence in the brand. Otherwise, BreadTalk’s sales might be affected in the long run.
Value of Study
Our recommendations aim to serve as content strategies that will fulfill these objectives:
- To manage and mitigate the negative perceptions and emotions associated to the BreadTalk brand due to these controversies
- To rekindle customers’ long-term confidence in BreadTalk
Before we make detailed recommendations as to how BreadTalk could better maximize their use of online tools and content with respect to engaging their stakeholders in the context of a crisis, we would first need to assess BreadTalk’s current digital footprint better identify the areas that BreadTalk is doing well in, as well as the areas where it could improve upon. We plan to do so in two ways:
Firstly, we intend to analyse BreadTalk’s crisis management strategy in order to conduct a crisis management performance evaluation to gain insights on the sources of failure of previous crisis management efforts. This is done by observing BreadTalk’s responses on social media platforms to the two scandals mentioned above. Similarly, we will also evaluate the social media crisis management strategies of BreadTalk’s notable competitors in the F&B industry. This will make our proposal more robust in helping BreadTalk gain an edge over its competitors.
Secondly, we plan to conduct a survey to gauge the sentiments that the public has of BreadTalk. Using the survey results, we are able to better understand consumers’ expectations and hence adapt our solution accordingly to make it more effective.
While BreadTalk has attempted to manage crises, such crisis management strategy may not be translated well in its social media platforms. Moving forward, our group aims to utilize the data collected to develop an effective social media strategy for BreadTalk that fulfills the aforementioned objectives.
Thank you, and we look forward to sharing more with you on Thursday!
Anzie, Amira Amani, Inez, Michelle, Shanandra