Cadbury brand owner, Kraft has kept true to character by putting profits before criticism in the knowledge that today’s consumers will put up with just about anything in a climate of fear and uncertainty.
Kraft has cut the size of many of its Cadbury brand chocolate bars – whilst keeping confectionary prices at pre-size reduction costs.
For example, a squatter version of Cadbury Dairy Milk bar has two less chunks, but still costs £1 at the till.
Toblerone has removed an entire ‘mountain’ from its bar.
Similar cuts have been applied to British brand favourites such as Mars, Snickers, Yorkie and Rolo.
· Rolo has been reduced from 11 portions to 10.
· Yorkie – 68g to 64.5g – a ‘chunk’
· Snickers is 7.2% smaller.
· Mars – 7.2% smaller.
Even the iconic Dairy Milk bar is now 120g from 140g. (Again its retail price has not been cut accordingly).
Kraft justified the slices by pointing to excessive charges for cocoa. (The commodity’s price rose to a six-month high, following reports of an export ban by the Ivory Coast – one of world’s key producers).
Last year the American company reneged on its promise not to close a Cadbury factory in Bristol.
Consumer Focus, an organisation that represents customer interests, told reporters, “Shrinking the size but not price of products could damage consumers’ trust in the brand they love”.
On the defence, Cadbury said, “… We believe our confectionary still represents very affordable treat.”
From a Brandforensics perspective, the trend is worrying. Brands including Dairylea, Pringles and Heinz have also used a comparable ploy.
The question now is just how far brands are willing to go to further gamble customer loyalty? How many more cuts, will consumers naively put up with before questioning the motives of brand ‘leaders’ that spend millions of pounds carefully nurturing imageries to suggest that they are people- before profits led organisations?
Years ago the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher declared, “There’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.”
Today’s gates leading to the utopian ‘Big Society’ are draped with a banner which reads ‘austerity will give you purpose’.
Thin on excuses
Using obesity as central to its logic for justifying less for more, back in 2009, the Food Standards Agency said it wanted food and drink companies to start manufacturing smaller sizes, “which in time will become the standard”.
Arguably, that motive was noble.
However in today’s world of increasing divide between money-strapped consumers and certain bonus-bloated brand leaders, this ‘shared austerity’ could be viewed as little more than a propaganda ploy to create communal apathy.
In the short-term that is good for brands wishing to placate shareholders.
Long term it could spell trouble as it dawns on consumers that despite all the marketing hype, it turns out that only ones who really believe they are ‘worth it’ are the same organisations which keep on insipidly ‘swearing on their mother’s life’ that the public still has a choice and comes first – honest.
This may be just one example of brand conceit and arrogance that is simply too hard for any consumer to swallow or shareholders to profitably sustain.