Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Whatever happened to...chocolate edition

As Cadburys promotes its new creme egg dairy milk bar it's got me thinking that the chocolate industry is afraid of taking risks. What was the last NEW chocolate bar that you can remember being launched? It's a tough one and I'd have to say it might have been the Nestle Maverick bar from 1997. Since then, it seems that every new release has been on the back of the old Cadbury Dairy Milk (cdm) bars. Certain "new" releases have simply been the withdrawal of an old favourite to be replaced with another cdm flavour. Old favourites have such as caramel and wispa have been withdrawn to be replace by cdm with caramel and cdm bubbly and cdm varieties such as biscuit, mint chip, double choc, wafer and even creme egg have appeared. It just seems Cadbury isn't willing to take the time to come up with and develop new brands beyond the classic cdm. What's even more upsetting is that offshoots of the discontinued bars (such as the fantastic wispa gold) have had no replacement. It isn't just Cadbury who are doing it - Nestle and Mars play the same tricks too - Nestle bring out various updates of aero and kit-kat whilst Mars gets ample use out of the Mars and Galazy lines.

And don't get me started about standardising names. If it was called Snickers everywhere else in the world - why launch as Marathon in the UK?! Same goes for starburst/opal fruits. Turning the classic smarties cylindrical tube to a hexagonal tube - what was that about?

But does anyone remember the following discontinued range of treats:

Vice Versas - white chocolate centres with a brown sugar coating or, well - vice versa. They were supposed to target galaxy minstrels but ended up being cancelled, relaunched years later and then discontinued again...

Pretzel flips - here's an odd one. Salted mini pretzels covered in milk chocolate or white chocolate fudge. They appeared, got us hooked and then vanished into the night.

Cadbury's astros - the supposed alternative to M&Ms. The packaging screamed "cigarette box" and the centre biscuit was very unpleasant if it went soggy.

Cabury jestives - an ordinary chocolate digestive not enough? how about with Cadbury milk chocolate? how about with cdm chunks in the biscuit too. They single handedly turned the world of chocolate-coated biscuit snacks on its head. Just about pipping chocolate hob-nobs to the "best biscuit" prize these have suddenly disappeared to be replaced with very dull regular Cadbury chocolate digestives. Boo!

Still, I'm sure I remember seeing the old Fry's Turkish delight advert on tv in the last couple of years. I'm guessing the old Cadburys fudge adverts won't get that treatment - "a finger of fudge is just enough to give your kids a treat." Quite.


Rachel said...

I am proud to report that pretzel flips are available in a rather fantastic shop called CyberCandy

Luciano Howard said...

line extensions versus actual innovation. Let's examine the evidence, shall we? Nestle, with Kit-Kat, had the biggest selling confectionary brand in the UK. I think they still do, but its lost over 4 % in sales over 5 years. Why? Dilution - they extended the linje through chunky to Kubes and so on. People hate it. They try each one, think great, ok, what's the point and move on - typically to something else as they now don't recall Kit-Kat with the same love. Cadbury's do it even more but dairy milk always will be a staple. In the end it must be easy cash for them - sitting there with a chocolate bar and creme eggs: Combine the two; no R+D costs, maximum profit (even if volumes are low). The hope is the creme egg bars won't 'cannibalize' the eggs or bars themselves but will drive new custom thru the creme in bar innovation. Sometimes works, often doesn't. With something like dairy milk I doubt the experience would put someone off buying dairy milk if they didn't like the creme egg bar; with kit-kat kubes etc. it clearly irritated people - but why are they so different? Easy 'innovation' with a low risk of consumer alienation. Very rare we get proper innovation nowadays. Look at every consumer good - bread, chocolate, TVs, coke; its all extension and modular; nothing new, or very little - sure, we have HD, for example, but now thats become modular and incremental. Ho hum.