Magazine article Marketing

GREAT BRITISH BRANDS: Marmite - A Hundred Years Old This Year, Marmite Is One of the Few Brands to Use the Fact That a Lot of People Don't Actually like It

Magazine article Marketing

GREAT BRITISH BRANDS: Marmite - A Hundred Years Old This Year, Marmite Is One of the Few Brands to Use the Fact That a Lot of People Don't Actually like It

Article excerpt

Marmite is one of the few brands on this list to look largely the same as it did when it was launched 100 years ago.

The familiar, if odd, brown jar with its bright yellow label is one of the most recognisable UK FMCG brands and can be found in a quarter of the nation's kitchen cupboards. In fact, all that has changed is the lid, now plastic instead of the original metal, and the fact that the jar is glassware (as opposed to the original earthenware).

It is a classic example of a strong local brand that remains in the Unilever portfolio despite the company's predilection for products that have some global potential.

It is also unusual in that brand extensions have been kept to a minimum.

Bestfoods, which owned Marmite before it was taken over by Unilever in 1999, was always keen not to over-milk its cash cow. Although the brand has been licensed for flavours for other food brands in recent years - most notably to Walker's for Marmite-flavoured crisps - these are small-scale moves.

Marmite was created in 1902 by the same man who created Oxo. Both brands appeared as a by-product of the yeast produced in the brewing process.

Marmite's original UK factory was sited just up the road from the Bass Brewery in Burton-on-Trent, a supplier relationship that continues today.

The name is thought to have originated from the French word marmite, meaning stockpot, similar to the pot that appears on Marmite's label. Like Ovaltine, Marmite's marketing was originally reliant on its health claims.

When the word 'vitamin' was coined in 1912 to describe a number of organic substances essential for life, it gave a powerful boost to Marmite's appeal because one its key ingredients, yeast, is a source of five B vitamins and folic acid. During both world wars Marmite was shipped out to the troops while those back home were urged not to eat too much Marmite so there would be more for the forces. Marmite was found to be particularly good for desert regions because it helped stave off diseases such as beriberi.

In the Second World War, Marmite became something of a currency among Britons in prisoner of war camps. In the past few decades, Marmite has also been able to take advantage of the rise in popularity of vegetarianism in the UK, using PR to remind consumers that it is an extract of yeast. …

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