Editorial: Is Nestle Sacrificing Kit Kat's Brand Equity?

Article excerpt

In a recent letter to Marketing, Nestle Rowntree managing director Chris White pointed out that sales of Kit Kat are, in fact, doing rather well.

I say 'letter', but in truth it was a three-line felt-tip scrawl, faxed to us, asking why 'you guys never report the good news', accompanied by an equally hastily clipped regional newspaper article about the brand's bounce back.

There is some history to this. A year ago Marketing published a feature on 'Nestle's marketing crisis', which exposed some of the more colourful comments White had made in internal meetings about the state of the business (Marketing, 19 February 2004). He laid into brand strategy, the quality of Nestle's retailer relationships, and the fact that its advertising simply did not work.

He then pronounced he would have it all fixed within two years.

Here we are, 12 months into his self-imposed deadline, and happy to report that Kit Kat's sales are, in fact, doing rather well. Don't let it be said that White hasn't made a difference. Parachuted in from Nestle in Australia, White is so full of brio and self-belief that you have to wonder whether his convention-defying approach to marketing might even prove sustainable.

He has delivered on his promise to concentrate on fewer core brands - in other words, Kit Kat. The brand has had no fewer than nine variants spun off it in the past year. It is such an extraordinary rate of brand stretch that it is hard to find any parallels. …