Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cadbury could learn a thing or two from 1980's Coca Cola experiment

When you mess around with an iconic product that your customers just love to obsession just because you think you can save money by changing its appearance, packaging and well and truly tried and tested formula you risk losing that iconic status and your reputation that took generations to build and your customers.

Cadbury PLC [CBRY.LSE] have done just that by changing packaging sizes of their family block chocolates while keeping them the same size of the old by using different packaging and the most brain dead thing of all changing the taste of their very successful essential ingredient that has made them the brand to go to when you think of chocolate, the ingredient in all their products, chocolate itself!

Forget for a moment that I am a pure obsessional when it comes to chocolate, my body is part blood, water, Crunchie Bar, Dairy Milk, Moro Bar and a list as long as your arm in Cadbury products but just consider what Cadbury have done.

The product that has made them the leader in chocolate for generations has had its successful formula changed,they have substituted the very essence of chocolate, palm oil for animal fat, supposedly to save money.

That is like taking the sugar out of Coca Cola and still calling it Coke!

Business 101, you don't change a successful product that your customers would die for just to save money. Trust me, they will pay more for it.

Executives at Cadbury head office are perhaps too young to remember another iconic product that was tampered with in the mid 1980s, the aforementioned Coca Cola from the Coca Cola Company [KO.NYSE].

The formula for that iconic drink was sweetened to taste more like Pepsi and launched on customers as "New Coke" and was an instant failure. Customers protested, Coke didn't listen,

they said the new product was better and consumers just needed to get used to it but Coke management didn't figure on how obsessive their customers were (duh!) and they simply stopped buying the new Coke. Two months latter Coca Cola relented and re-launched old Coke as "Coca Cola Classic" and the two products existed side by side on the supermarket shelf for a number of years. It is no longer sold in the United States.

This should be a lesson for Cadbury who must have execs in the marketing department of their Schweppes division that know about this famous marketing blunder, they sell their own iconic lemonade and other drinks products - the Coke story from the 1980s is taught in business schools around the globe about what not to do when in business.

"Those that don't learn from the lessons of the past are doomed to make the same mistakes".

Cadbury should learn from their mistake, it is already costing them in lost sales and is going to cost them dearly in the long-term if they don't rectify their decision to make a change.

I am a life long consumer of their former delicious products and I will no longer be buying them.

They just don't taste the same.

Its Whittakers for me!

See the new Whittaker's TV Advertising comparing Cadbury to Whittakers.

Disc I love chocolate

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Cadbury's Purple Reign: The Story Behind Chocolate's Best-Loved Brand
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  1. I also love the cadbury chocolates, and about 1 week ago I bought some for myself and thought to myself something was odd about the flavour.

    Unfortunately It never occurred to me that they would change the recipe.

    As for the change in the packaging and size/shape of the blocks. I was involved in a survey in Melbourne several years ago where I was to taste and touch and feel many different sizes and shapes of chocolate.

    The goal of the survey was to see whether the larger pieces would encourage or deter customers from buying, and also to see what price customers would be willing to pay for the new sizes. I remember there being slightly different flavours for some of the selections, but it did not occur to me at the time whether the recipe was changed. Clearly it was, as we were to also comment on the taste even though supposeedly only the shape (and price) had changed. My opinion at the time was that the larger pieces would be better as mouthfull sizes. I did not know that the larger pieces in the block would result in a smaller overall block size.

    Maybe I had a part to play in the change to large pieces and smaller blocks, and maybe the flavour also. Obviously I was not the only person to "vote" this way in the surveys. All the participants recieve thier $40 for helping out and of course the benefit of the free chocolate.

    I guess I have had a bigger part to play in many products with all the surveys I participated in while in Melbourne.

  2. The buggers have a different size for each flavour of chocie though Shortbus!

    I know each flavour would cost a different amount to produce but why not just raise the price for all their chocolates.

    How dumb is that when before they were all the same size and cost.

    Someone in the marketing and production areas has stuffed up big time.

    Coke surveyed 200,000 people on taste before they launched their "New" Coke but what they didn't ask was how would you feel if you changed the formula for an iconic drink and you will never be able to buy it again.

    Dumb dumb, dumb.....


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