BrandTrack: High street choc tactics

This month, BrandTrack looks at the purchase of chocolate-covered countlines. In a sector where the impulse purchase reigns supreme, old favourites Snickers and Kit Kat were forced to fight hard to beat off aspirant Time Out

SBHD: This month, BrandTrack looks at the purchase of chocolate-covered countlines. In a sector where the impulse purchase reigns supreme, old favourites Snickers and Kit Kat were forced to fight hard to beat off aspirant Time Out

SBHD: Chocolate countlines bought

For most consumers, habitual purchase is very high. The older buyer is as likely as the younger to have a repertoire of brands. The over-25s’ purchases tend to be drawn from the top ten brands, whereas younger purchasers are trying and buying newer, and more exotic bars.

The chocolate countline market has virtually no own-label presence at all. Only one per cent of our sample had purchased an own-label chocolate product during the month covered.

Mars and Snickers have a pronounced skew to male, and Crunchie to female, buyers. Both bars have a higher penetration downmarket, and Kit Kat, Caramel and Twirl are more upmarket. The other top 15 brands are relatively flat in terms of social class.

Mars Confectionery brands dominate the purchase penetration table, taking first, third and fourth places with Mars, Snickers and Twix respectively. Kit Kat, which had comparatively low advertising recall, comes second in the purchase league, while Crunchie slips from third to sixth place.

SBHD: Reasons for purchase

Habitual purchase is almost four times higher than the desire for novelty. This may be explained partly by consumers having two or three regular, `favourite’ brands.

Forty-two per cent of consumers claim that at least one of their purchases caught their eye at the counter. This stimulus is acknowledged to be far more potent than advertising as a direct influence on purchase. This is particularly strong for Snickers, Time Out, Twirl and Caramel.

The impulse at the counter is not explained only by on-pack offers, either money-saving or collecting. Crunchie and Kit Kat promotions during November are reflected by claimed influence among buyers.

TV advertising influenced only 19 per cent. This rises to 30 per cent among Time Out buyers, and 23 per cent for Crunchie buyers. Both score highly on experimentation and point-of-sale influence, and are making a successful bid for increased penetration.

SBHD: Advertising recall

Two Mars brands, Mars and Snickers, head the advertising recall league for November, with at least a quarter of purchasers remembering advertising in that period. There is a significant gap between these brands and the next level of competitors, headed by Crunchie at 16 per cent of respondents.

The complexity and promiscuity of the market is demonstrated by the very high number of brands for which advertising is recalled: 33 brands in all. However, more than a quarter of purchasers were unable to remember any advertising in November, and indeed Mars, Bounty and Caramel, although in the top ten annual spenders, did not advertise during this period.

Ad recall is higher among 16 to 24-year-olds than 25 to 35-year-olds. This slant is particularly marked for Time Out and Snickers, and least noticeable for Kit Kat and Dime Bar. There is no obvious difference in recall between males and females.

Advertising for all brands is less likely to be recalled by AB purchasers, with the rate rising gradually through the social class to peak among DE buyers. Only Kit Kat and Time Out buck this trend, with their advertising more likely to be recalled by ABC1 buyers.

SBHD: Advertising expenditure

Time Out and Snickers are the only two significant spenders; both spent almost a third of their annual budget in this month, although Snickers scores far higher in the recall charts than its rival.

Of the 21 brands recorded by Register MEAL as advertising, 13 spend more than ú1m annually. Kit Kat heads the league at just over ú5m, followed by a cluster of five brands spending between ú3.2m and ú3.7m.

Mars Confectionery supports five brands in this sector at a total of ú13.5m, compared with Cadbury’s spend of ú11m on seven brands, and Rowntree-Nestl’s ú10m on three. This demonstrates the difference between Cadbury’s strategy of supplying and supporting a large number of different brands, and Rowntree and Mars’ concentration on a smaller number of heavily advertised products.

Nearly 95 per cent of spend goes on TV campaigns, with scattered support among other media. Of campaigns worth more than ú100,000, the most significant are Kit Kat, Crunchie and Time Out in outdoor, Twix in press, and Bounty and Drifter in cinema.

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