I have a very sweet and thoughtful husband. He makes me work really hard at birthdays and Christmas to ensure I – at least – equal his thoughtfulness in the gift-giving department. I’m a lucky gal. For Christmas, he designed my very own perfume at Jo Malone London and he got an absolute winner. It is the perfect fragrance and I wear it every day.
Steve told me (after I opened it) that he had an absolutely fabulous experience at Jo Malone London and is keen to take me there so I can experience it as well. A good endorsement for a brand – especially in Asia where it can be a bit hit and miss.
However, following his Christmas shopping foray, he also received a handwritten letter thanking him for his custom. Now I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember the last time a commercial exchange resulted in something so personal. And guess what? Steve and I are both delighted.
On the other hand, I wrote to Coach in 2013 following the Bangladeshi building collapse that resulted in more than a thousand deaths. A friend challenged me to understand where my ‘brand of choice’ sourced its products after I blogged about a new handbag purchase. I’ve been a Coach fan ever since I lived in Boston in the late 90s, when I first discovered it.
It’s simple, elegant and perfectly suits my style.
Getting back to Bangladesh. This disaster upset and infuriated me. But the thing that angered me most was big global brands – who have been benefiting from low cost labor in these countries for decades – standing back and washing their hands of it, or worse, pulling out all together.
Apparently, rather than fixing the problem or taking some responsibility, they think it’s better not to be associated with it at all. I personally believe that global companies have a responsibility for the quality of their products, as well as the safety of the humans making these products. This counts if the products are made in-house, outsourced once, twice or a thousand times. Ignorance is not an excuse – not today.
Now it’s very important to mention that I do not know if Coach is making its products in Bangladesh, because when I emailed Coach HQ to ask where the individual products were made, I got a reply suggesting I speak to the Singapore helpline. I replied that this was not a question the Singapore helpline could handle and asked HQ for a response to my very simple question.
I never got a response, but worse, Coach Singapore has added me to its marketing list. I now get both SMS and eDMs from Coach on a regular basis, however since this incident, every time I receive marketing outreach it absolutely infuriates me. It infuriates me because they did not answer my question yet believe I will continue to be interested in its products?
I’ve been loyal to the Coach brand for more than 15 years, but now they have lost me and I will not buy Coach again. That is what happens when a brand does not listen to a customer and answer the customer’s question. That is what happens when a brand does not distinguish between the types of communication a customer sends in. Coach did not identify that this specific request was not an opportunity for marketing. Coach did not recognize that a loyal customer had some very valid concerns and wanted it addressed. Coach got it wrong.
This is the world we live in now. I’ve had a bad experience and I’m writing about it. I’ve also had an excellent experience and I’m writing about it.
Therefore, has what I’ve written influence your attitude towards either brand? Would you walk into the next Jo Malone London store to see if they delighted you as well? Or would you bypass the next Coach store based on what I said? I’m curious to know.
It doesn’t take much to lose a customer these days, but it’s not about single customer losses anymore. One voice can impact thousands, or can it? Perhaps it’s only the Kardashians who have that sort of power?
What do you think?