Will Samsung’s image burn and crash after Galaxy fires?

The tech giant's reputation emerged intact from its initial recall but things could be about to get a lot worse

Yesterday, Samsung permanently halted production of its Galaxy Note 7 model after the devices were reported to be catching on fire due to a battery fault.

It comes just a month after the manufacturer undertook a recall of the product following similar incidents.

But how serious a crisis is this for the South Korean tech giant?

YouGov BrandIndex data shows that the public were aware of the original recall and noted that much of the coverage was negative.

This was true of both the general public and Samsung’s existing customers.

Yet, looking deeper into the data it is clear that the initial product recall didn’t have much, if any, impact on the brand.

Its Index score (which measures overall brand health) remained relatively steady among both the general public and its current customers.

Views of the brand’s quality also barely dipped after the recall and the data shows that people with Samsungs still plan to get Samsungs next time out.

It should be noted though that the crisis unfolded at the same time Samsung had its Olympics and Paralympics sponsorship/ad campaign out which may have counteracted some of the more negative scores from the battery story.

However, with the brand forced to cease production of the device things could change things notably.

We have seen previously that when a brand has a rolling crisis its public perception gets progressively worse as the public begins to associate it with the negative connotations of the problem it is facing.

Consumers can be pretty forgiving about one-off issues, but when they become longstanding problems the public’s view can harden against a brand.

A good example of this is TalkTalk after its rolling data breach – it has still not recovered its public standing a year later.

The real problem for Samsung will be if the growing number of stories about its devices catching fire start to undermine the confidence of the general public – and, crucially, its customers – when it comes to perceptions of quality and their desire to buy its products.

Once a brand loses the trust of the public it can be very hard to win back.

This article originally appeared in City AM

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