Published on September 16, 2017 By Sammy Fries

How to handle vape product recalls

Innovative technologies often contain unintended consequences that pose hazardous threats to users. Just as medical devices and other technologies can suffer recalls at large, the instruments medical cannabis users or recreational users use are susceptible to regulatory cannabis recalls from various state agencies where vapes are sold.

It is crucial for vape ventures to have a plan in place for costly, yet probable vape recalls. The new cannabis industry contains regulatory conflicts as certain dosages, packaging, and ingredients are banned or found to be unhealthy. The lack of consistent federal regulation and differing state agency policies creates a hard to navigate market for the new industry. There is no federal oversight or clear national guidelines for vape brands to follow. Assuming the worst, and creating a robust messaging strategy will ensure that an emerging cannabis vape brand is prepared for even the most disruptive cannabis recall.

Prepare A Cannabis Recall Plan Before Launch

Assuming that a cannabis recall could happen allows brands to have a plan in place to avoid lost time and be able to respond as quickly and efficiently as possible. With a plan, cannabis vaporizer manufactures can minimize fines, lost profits, and charges that may occur in coordination with the vape recall. Allow space to determine how to respond, collect infected product, and ultimately move forward.

Collaborate with Authorities

When a regulatory agency takes action, cooperating with them will create a more efficient flow and smooth process. If a third party regulator or arbitrator steps in recognize that your company is at fault and will need to make amends.

Strategize a plan to remove all infected products to avoid incurring additional fines and create integrity for the brand. Cannabis recalls for cartridges can occur at various scales ranging from minor retrievals to necessary at-home-pick ups. Be sure to have a plan in place across all levels to ensure rapid deployment.

Recalls and regulation are monitored and administered by a variety of local enforcers. Certain authorities to know of include: Oregon Liquor Control Commission, Denver Department of Environmental Health, Marijuana Enforcement Division of the Colorado Department of Revenue, Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission, Arizona Department of Health Services, and the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation - State of California.

During a vape recall, brand reputation is already in decline and failing to cooperate fully will only worsen the situation.

Be transparent and communicative

Recalls offer an opportunity to create a lasting impression. Doing them well can actually build trust and enhanced customer satisfaction.

According to a study by the Relational Capital Group in coordination with Princeton University social psychology researchers, 87% surveyed mentioned that they are “more likely to purchase and remain loyal to a company or brand that handles a product recall honorably and responsibly.”

Let customers and the public know that a mistake was made and the product(s) will no longer be sold until the issue is resolved and a new procedure is in place to protect them against this, or similar hazards.

Take note of Advanced Medical Alternatives. During a recent recall, they made a public commitment to providing safe and high-quality products on its website. In it, they mentioned that they are, “ voluntarily implementing a new testing program for each crop produced by the corporation and… will continue to strive to be a leader in developing the highest industry standards.”

It is also important to be civil and appreciative of the understanding of wary customers and remind them how much you value their business. This reaffirms their commitment in times of distress.

Offer something of value

Be sure to think long term. It is far better to pay upfront for this mistake and build loyalty than to lose a potential life-long customer.  If there is any way to regain or keep the support of a wary public, invest in it.

If there is already a channel in place (like social media, mobile apps, or a newsletter), let customers know of the vape recall and offer refunds, discounts, or other incentives to build loyalty and engagement. One way to do this is building integrations into companion apps, loyalty programs, or other mediums customers engage in your brand.

Above all, Be prepared, Act fast, and Remain Reliable

Cannabis recalls have already occurred in a variety of states where marijuana is legal.  In 2015 for instance, the Denver Department of Environmental Health issues cannabis product recalls for 13 straight weeks. Lawmakers are drafting stricter regulations and screening processes at the state level. For cannabis companies, it is important to study and understand these regulations to ensure compliance to avoid these situations.

Cannabis tech companies that sell vape cartridges should be especially considerate that their sourcing is in compliance to avoid cannabis recalls. Pesticides have notably been an issue with 93% of SoCal Cannabis failing weed tests, and large recalls have been instigated by brands like OpenVape. Due to the developing nature of the industry and lack of federal consistency, this will change, and new issues will arise.

Recalls are a timely, resource-intensive process that may ultimately create skeptics. There is an extreme possibility for negative backlash but with a PR strategy ready to go, it is possible to create a better brand image that fosters corporate social responsibility and deep care for users.

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