Magazine article Marketing

Cadbury's Sweet Charity

Magazine article Marketing

Cadbury's Sweet Charity

Article excerpt

Would Cadbury's Roses taste as sweet by any other name? Cadbury thinks not, which is why the leader in the 2.8bn [pounds] UK chocolate market - it claims a 31% share, against 25% each for Mars and Nestle-Rowntree - has embarked on a remarkable corporate branding push.

One element in the drive was confirmed this week, with the announcement that Cadbury is linking with the Save the Children Fund (SCF) to raise at least 1m [pounds] - a very conservative estimate - over the next two to three years.

The commercial motivation for this charity link ties it to other, apparently unconnected, developments. One is the adoption of a common "torn wrapper" device on all TV, press and poster advertising, which has been in place for 18 months now. Another is a repackaging exercise, which is still being rolled out. A third is a growing interest in "presence" marketing - taking the Cadbury name and product to where consumers enjoy their leisure activities.

Heinz and Kellogg's are two other packaged goods companies with strong corporate branding, but there are not many more. If Cadbury can make the strategy work more effectively, there could be benefits in two areas. It could help in the battle against own-label products, which are starting to become a nuisance in the confectionery market. And it could underpin the minor brands in the portfolio - Cadbury, like many other consumer goods companies, finds it increasingly difficult to support all brands fully.

The corporate branding policy is closely associated with John Taylor, a 42-year-old "Brummie" with degrees in chemical engineering and computer science, who took over as marketing director from Stephen Ward two years ago.

He brushes aside any suggestion that it is a reaction to the recession. Cadbury has gained market share in recent years, he insists. The chocolate market was flat in 1991, but that was a good performance, given a 2.5% VAT increase which widened the price differential between confectionery and competing foods.

No - the argument for stronger corporate branding is straightforward competitive advantage. All of the major confectionery companies enjoy a good reputation and produce quality products, Taylor concedes. What is unique to Cadbury is its emotional values: "It's a name consumers have known all their lives, it is associated with family, enjoyment, pleasure. To them, we are the chocolate market."

One can see how historic strategies might have led to this situation. Mars Confectionery has always tended to play down the company name. It has concentrated on a relatively small portfolio to strongly branded products - the Mars Bar itself, of course, but also Bounty, Twix, Snickers, and so on.

Rowntree's policy has possibly been somewhere between that of Mars and Cadbury. It has some very strong brands such as Black Magic, After Eight, Smarties, and Kit Kat. Many consumers would know that they were Rowntree brands - but the corporate branding it not as strong as it is with Cadbury.

"We repeated some research into the Cadbury name which we had carried out ten years earlier, and found that it had not diminished in any way," says Taylor. "All the evidence is that it still has a lot of contemporary values. It is not all history and heritage. That encouraged us to build on it, and in particular on the emotional values, which are quite strong."

Adds his colleague Adrian Cox, marketing manager for countlines and new product development: "What we have in reality is a virtuous circle because we have a strong company name and strong brands, and they reinforce each other."

An early step in implementing the plan was the appointment two years ago of John Henson to the new post of corporate brand manager. His responsibilities include corporate sponsorship, public relations activities, and "presence" marketing.

"What we're trying to do with presence marketing is look for opportunities to ensure Cadbury is present as part of people's lifestyles," he says. …

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