As a woman reading the disastrous report on the changing room controversy faced by FabIndia, my first reaction was of horror. I quickly told my husband how I would never want to go to a changing room in FabIndia. His response was: why would you ever even buy from there? This sentiment is not uncommon in the FabIndia regulars as I quickly went through their Facebook page. [post url]
FabIndia’s response was showcasing their “shock” and “concern” but certainly not enough to get the brand out of a doldrums it finds itself in. Legal proceedings will take time, and it is not my intent to talk about the realities of the court case (with limited information). But the impact of the brand is real. Even as I write another case was reported in Kolhapur. If you Google “FabIndia” the news of the case is among the top 2 hits. And consumers usually tend to gravitate towards negativity on Google search.
5 Ways FabIndia Can Do To Avert a Brand Disaster Online
1. Do the Right Thing
The issue with a spread business is that it requires further investment in terms of checkings inshops, hiring and continuous reporting. And there are no short-cuts. Even if the FabIndia top leadership and “sentiment” is on the right side, this needs to trickle through to the last employee in the remotest location they’re in. There were reports in between that the store manager wanted to prevent theft. There are plenty of simpler mechanisms to do that for changing rooms, and a camera with 4 month old stored coverage does not sound ideal. No! Establish a code of conduct for all shops, invest in employee training and share the measures on all owned media channels. Show what you’re doing.
2. Be Transparent
The worst way to offend an angry consumer is this: “We are deeply saddened by the situation and are cooperating with the police”. This looks like a poster printed outside the shop and is mere PR talk. Be real, be transparent and show the human side of the brand. This is a situation where someone’s privacy could have been violated. The consumer is already imagining the worst. How would official talk ever address fear?
We r deeply concerned & shocked at this allegation.We r in d process of investigating this internally &will be cooperating fully with police
— Fabindia (@FabindiaNews) April 3, 2015
3. Lead the Privacy initiative
Privacy is not a topic that many corporates in India address or want to address, this may be an opportunity for the FabIndia brand to bring this into the mainstream. It doesn’t matter if ministers and political parties are involved and making comments. The purpose of a brand is to build trust with its consumers. Step up and do it. Can all brands come together and sign up for increased safety to avoid privacy violations? Is this the sticky issue FabIndia can lead?
Follow the example of Flipkart in the net neutrality debate. One may argue with whether they did this under immense pressure, but their PR reporting was fantastic- definitely something other brands could learn from.
4. Create Positive Content with employees
The damage is done. The only way to balance negativity is to create more positive content. Instead of being limited to the voices of a PR Head who shared a single Facebook post, share concerns and comments from employees. If 70% employees are women, what are their feelings about this disaster? Share it with the consumers. Positive content does not have to be dishonest or forced. Even shared fears have a powerful way of connecting with consumers in a human way.
5. Think longterm
It is easier to announce messages on Facebook and far more important to run this topic through to posterity. What measures are you taking to avoid such disasters in the long term? Share the inputs with the consumers and talk about the future plans. Allow them some imagination to be able to start building trust again.
My first introduction to FabIndia was in college through my sister. Later, while living abroad, I have often shared the brand experience with my friends here, and it has been a brand I have been proud to pass on the word for. I am not sure I am in that place anymore.
While all these are listed measures that I expect as a consumer, it is indeed saddening to see a much loved brand move into the “I am not sure” brand category. Brands are not built in a day and the steps to restore the same status for FabIndia will be hard earned too.
[image courtesy: transenviro]