Magazine article Marketing

The Twiglet Zone

Magazine article Marketing

The Twiglet Zone

Article excerpt

The knobbly, wacky Twiglet brand was, it would seem, the John Cleese of snacks, but the John Major of packaging. Robert Dwek enters the Twiglet Zone to see how Jacob's Bakery got the balance right

About ten years ago, Jacob's Bakery did something radical with its very established and very successful Twiglets brand. It took the Marmitey, knobbly little wholewheat sticks out of the box in which they had resided since their 1932 launch and transferred them to a bag. The move, explains Helen Bond, senior product manager for Twiglets, reflected the fact that this once-upmarket brand was finally casting off its snobbish wrappings.

"In its 4oz box, Twiglets had been positioned as a cocktail party snack. The move to packs was an attempt to become more mainstream." It seemed to do the trick. Sales of Twiglets have increased substantially since 1985. In fact, with a current value of [pounds]12m-[pounds]13m, the brand is about five times bigger (in volume terms) than in its pre-packet incarnation. It leads the baked snacks sector, with a 15% market share.

But these encouraging figures were not enough to prevent Jacob's setting off on another Twiglets re-launch. A year ago it began a full-scale market-research programme to find out how this still haughty brand could speak more directly to its new consumers.

The research took the form of six discussion groups, including teenagers, young adults and housewives with children. All the participants were either Twiglets consumers or claimed that they would consider buying Twiglets in the future, and all were regular buyers of bagged snacks.

It soon became clear that the current pack design was trailing far behind the image of Twiglets projected by McCann-Erickson's distinctive "Twiglet Zone" ads - even though these had been running since the autumn of 1986. The ads' surreal, zany quality effectively captured the strong, dramatic taste and look of Twiglets. Although the pack had been tweaked slightly since 1985, it still lacked personality. The Twiglet Zone "had become a very strong brand equity," says Bond. Although Jacob's had wanted to target a new kind of snack consumer, one who was less governed by the formality of a cocktail party, it hadn't realised quite how different this consumer would turn out to be. Its research showed a dramatic leap in the popularity of Twiglets among consumers eating "on the hoof" and particularly among the very young, the eight- to 15-year-olds. …

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