The Lassonde/Oasis Dispute: The Impact Of Social Media

The Lassonde/Oasis dispute that set social media abuzz this past Easter highlights an issue of crisis management.   What is the real role of social media in a situation like this?

Consider the following three elements/factors:

  1. “Traditional” media highlighted a situation where Lassonde Industries, Inc. took legal action against Olivia’s Oasis, a small business that markets a range of skin care products derived from olive oil. The Lassonde’s lawsuit sought to “protect” their well-known brand of fruit juice, Oasis.
  2. Outraged consumers called for a boycott of Lassonde’s products based on the unjust decisions taken by the juice maker versus the small business.
  3. Lassonde has responded to repair the damage by promising to change its practices and distancing themselves from any intention of malicious prosecution.

In the ’70s when I was a kid, my mother boycotted I do not know how many products for many different causes. The difference is that at the time, there were associations of consumers which would call a press conference or consumers, like my mother, would use a pen or typewriter to write to the company and organize a boycott with related leaflets.

Social media, like all technologies, accelerate the dynamics that are already present. The telephone and email have accelerated the conversations that already existed in the classical correspondence framework. It is the same with social media: the three “elements/factors” in the Lassonde/Oasis case where it took place at a higher speed than in the past (i.e., within 24 hours).   To make matters worse,  it happened during Easter weekend.

How does it impact businesses? What have we learned?

If social media accelerate the course of things, it is because technology increases productivity and / or reduce the cost of our actions. Thus, it cost very little time and energy for consumers to be react on social media during Easter weekend.  The opposite is also true for Lassonde: it was inexpensive, apparently by   a post from the president on the company’s Facebook page only hours later allowed them the chance to react to the company’s  situation.  Figure 1 is one of the many posts that the company had to contend with.

Figure 1: A "Fan" of Lassonde on Facebook stating his intentions of boycotting Oasis

This obviously facilitates also how companies and consumers must think and react.

  • Companies must respond faster than ever before. To do this – it’s obvious, they must be attentive to what happens on social media. Lassonde launched  president Jean Gattuso’s  english blog, “We Listen” with the first post titled, “Lassonde listens to its customers” on April 9th, 2012.   In french, the blog is named,  “On vous ecoute“, where it is updated more frequently than the english version.
  • Meanwhile, they face a risk of over-reaction as the time passes, the acuteness of their judgment is even more important. The decision to respond or not to a story making the rounds on social media should be evaluated by the hour. Reacting too quickly can be as risky.
  • This demands speed and sharp judgment which implies that all members of the organization must be involved in this process of crisis management (Please Read (in French onIy): ”Du bon usage des médias sociaux en gestion de crise”).
  • However, since the tide is accelerating, the lasting impact may be, itself, limited since this acceleration will ensure that public attention will be grabbed by consumers.
  • Finally, this implies that consumers and citizens – has greater responsibility for its participation in voicing concerns in the public space. Since it is inexpensive to react, we must also be vigilant and understand the tremendous impact that our tweets and Facebook comments can have as seen in the story of Oasis juice.

An era where change is accelerating implies a change in our behavior. Not on the merits, not their structure, but in how to address them. Time has the same value it used to have, for better or for worse.

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About The Author

 Ianik Marcil is an economist specializing in economic, social and technological evolution. He is a guest blogger for Intelegia.  Follow Ianik on Twitter: @ianikmarcil .

 

 

 

 

About Intelegia

Intelegia is a boutique consulting firm in Montreal, Canada that understands the need to be innovative and strategic in a business landscape that’s evolving at an incredible pace. The firm delivers social media strategies to efficiently engage with stakeholders in economic development, business to business and business to consumer segments. It assists clients by defining and executing sustainable social web strategies that will allow their brand message to stand out in a competitive environment where target audience engagement is a must.

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