Nestle-owned Kit Kat is making a bold move. Britain's favourite
chocolate bar brand for the past 15 years is ditching its characteristic
silver foil in favour of flow wrap plastic packaging.
OK, big deal, some may say. But for others, the ritual of taking off the
wrapper with mouth-watering anticipation is a key part of the
chocolate-eating experience and there is dismay at the decision among
this portion of the public.
Nestle has prepared itself for this disappointment and is putting a
pounds 3m marketing campaign behind the new packaging, using TV, press
Consumers may find solace in the up-and-coming TV ads fronted by ex-Big
Breakfast presenter Kelly Brook, but other Kit Kat lovers could need
more convincing - especially the female ones who make up the majority of
the Kit Kat user base.
Kit Kat has been on the modernisation trail for a while now with its
Chunky launch, tie-up with MSN and a move away from traditional TV ads
to radio and press.
With these changes, Kit Kat's popularity has soared, putting its brand
value at pounds 250m according to Nestle. But changing the foil on the
four-fingered Kit Kat (the two-bar snack launched in a plastic flow
wrap) is different - it's letting go of the last vestige of
The jury's out on whether consumers will take to the new packaging.
Nestle's marketers are hoping to convince them with the contemporary,
relevant look and the claim it keeps chocolate fresher.
Changing the packaging for Kit Kat has not been an easy decision. Nestle
has looked at doing away with the silver foil four times in the past
decade but consumers were not considered ready for such a momentous
change. Now the confectionery company thinks the time is right.
We asked Peter Shaw, director of brand consultancy Corporate Edge, who
has worked with clients Cadbury, and Bob Morrison, who left a senior
role at Mars Confectionery to found branding agency Elephants Can't
Jump, for their opinions.
Brand 2000 sales % Company Adspend
(pounds m) change (pounds)
Kit Kat 175-180 27.0 Nestle Rowntree 9,007,997
Cadbury Dairy Milk
(total) 160-165 0.8 Cadbury 2,780,558
Mars Bar 110-115 4.4 Mars 7,968,903
Galaxy (total) 80-85 -10.3 Mars 3,725,219
Twix 75-80 5.2 Mars 2,409,395
Source: ACNielsen, Marketing's Biggest Brands year to April 2000.
DIAGNOSIS - Peter Shaw
The ritual of unwrapping a Kit Kat has long been cited as the defining
part of the brand experience. Easing it out of that tight-fitting band
of paper, gently slipping inside the foil, lifting it out, finger by
Salivating stuff. But probably more salivating to your 40-something who
still enjoys a nice cup of tea, than your Tango-drinking
Taking Kit Kat into flow wrap is a brave move and, I am sure, a
nerve-wracking one for the brand team. However, the move is well
founded. Flow wrap has genuine benefits: it ensures the bar is going to
be in an optimal state; it is simpler for accessing the product, it is
more ecologically sound and it says modern and 'on the go'. It would
also seem that the unwrapping ritual has been catered for with the tear
strip - so you can still enjoy a frisson of anticipation.
Each generation does things differently from the last. They get
frustrated by what to them seem quirky and old-fashioned ways and always
expect quicker access to higher quality products. Perhaps the one thing
we should pause for thought over is whether instant gratification is
truly preferable to the pleasure of anticipation.
TREATMENT- Shaw's suggestions
- Invest a lot of effort in responding to any concerns consumers raise
and then stun them with your responsiveness and interest.
- Use the move to flow wrap to signal a more modern role, beyond the tea
- Remind people about the product experience and keep on doing it.
DIAGNOSIS - Bob Morrison
When we talk about chocolate, we're talking big passion. Chocolate is
about pleasure, and as with so many of the good things in life,
anticipation plays a large part. This is where the silver foil and paper
sleeve of Kit Kat are a big turn on. Everybody knows the little Kit Kat
rituals that build anticipation. By moving to the ubiquitous and cheaper
flow wrap, it removes a core visual icon and major element of the Kit
Kat eating experience.
This change fails my reality check. What is a fresher break? In this
category, longer shelf life is a manufacturer benefit, and not an issue
over which Kit Kat lovers are likely to have been petitioning York.
My unease is increased when I see the advertising idea is about ease of
opening. Not only is this a different claimed benefit than the on-pack
claim of freshness, but more importantly it's just not true. Flow wrap
can offer greater stand-out but, compared with foil and sleeve, it is
harder to open and so builds in frustration rather than adding
Sorry, but unlike the fantastic boldness and brashness of Kit Kat
Chunky, this act of brandalism has the cold hand of a Swiss accountant
all over it.
TREATMENT - Morrison's medicine
- 'Enthuse not excuse' - whatever the benefit you settle on, then sell
it with conviction.
- Start working now to compensate for the loss of a core visual and
experiential element of the brand experience.
- In every piece of communication, drive home the real core brand
benefits with clarity, consistency and creativity.