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Measuring the fallout from the UK’s horse meat scandal: Tesco’s got it worst

By Christopher Mims
United KingdomPublished Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Market analytics company Digimind has tallied up all the messy fallout from the horse meat scandal, and things are not looking good for UK grocery giant Tesco, where the uproar started after horse meat was discovered in its hamburgers.

How many horse icons had to die to bring you this infographic?

When Digimind looked at the words used alongside mentions of the scandal and specific brands, the contaminated products shook right out of the data.

Delicious foods become sinister when the mind detects even the faintest whiff of contamination.

A time series of brand mentions alongside terms relating to the scandal shows that Tesco, in blue, having managed to become associated with horse meat right from the start, was then mentioned every time the scandal flared anew.

Repeated but erratic exposure to the Tesco + Horsemeat stimulus induced a learned helplessness in consumers, who are turning to other brands.

The lesson? If you’re going to become associated with a brand-destroying controversy, try not to be the first out of the gate.

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