Have your muffin and eat it too
Little Bites by Top Taste were launched in April 2007 as a treat for kids’ lunchboxes. The packaging (shaped as a lunchbox) and communications reflected this positioning.
A year after the launch, however, sales were beginning to wane (down 0.1% year on year) and, consequently, trade partners had begun to rationalise the number of stock keeping units (SKUs) ordered. Furthermore, genuine product innovation was frustratingly difficult.
Both the brand’s functional name, Little Bites, and rational promise of ‘little bites of cake’, limited new product development (NPD) to flavour variations. Things were not looking up for Little Bites. Communications were going to have to bring to life a completely new strategic direction for the brand.
Campaign: ‘Just the best bit of the muffin’
Product: Little Bites by the Ministry of Muffins
Client: George Weston Foods
Agency: Naked Communications, Landor
We needed to identify a new long-term brand opportunity for Little Bites that would provide significant and sustained brand growth, as well as drive immediate sales to avoid further delisting.
Cake is a story told in two halves. Within retail chains it’s been flat; however, outside of retail there has been the ‘cupcake’ phenomenon and its closely related success of brands such as Muffin Break. As Donna Hay says in one of her bestselling cookbooks, “Muffins made it OK to eat cake for breakfast.”
Segmentation was conducted looking at the market across five dimensions: a) who is in the market, b) why people consume, c) where and when they consume, and d) what they consume.
This work uncovered that ‘snacking’ behaviour is not driven by ‘who’, but more likely a combination of need state and occasion. The implication of this was that we could make Little Bites less ‘kiddy’ and broaden our audience. They didn’t have to just be for mums buying for their kids, they could be a snack for anyone.
We chose not to target any particular consumer group – instead we wanted to create a brand that cut across all consumers, and provide a product that met multiple snacking occasions.
Consumer research demonstrated that the Top Taste master brand was not adding to the Little Bites proposition at all. Top Taste is an iconic cake brand in Australia, but consumers told us that ‘Top Taste = cake = treat = eat less frequently’. What we needed was ‘Muffins = snack = eat regularly without feeling guilty’.
A second insight demonstrated that Little Bites as a name was limiting. As it was a literal product descriptor, this meant we could not innovate beyond little bites. It also had no emotion, nor any sense of brand ‘back story’; i.e. why Little Bites?
That said, Little Bites did have some equity and loyal consumers, hence the brand itself, although limiting, would have to stay in some form.
We needed to replace Top Taste and create a new master brand for Little Bites that would allow consumers to feel good about eating Little Bites and provide a platform for future new product development and innovation. The new brand needed to appeal to a broader consumer group, who would feel good consuming the brand more often. The new master brand would be around ‘muffins’.
The big idea was the Ministry of Muffins, a ministry obsessed with solving the world’s muffin problems.
The idea worked at two levels: it provided a master brand ‘the Ministry of Muffins’ that could provide a platform for future NPD (anything that solved a muffin problem) and ensure long-term growth. Second, it gave the brand Little Bites personality and appetite appeal that would generate immediate trial.
The first muffin problem the Ministry of Muffins solved was a way to deliver ‘Just the best bit of the muffin’, as after the first bite muffin satisfaction decreases. The idea was executed with new packaging (designed by Landor), a television commercial and outdoor communications. These media were chosen to generate mass awareness of the new proposition quickly. All communications clearly communicated the ‘Just the best bit of the muffin’ proposition for Little Bites.
We now have a platform for future brand growth and are no longer limited to innovations within the tightly defined area of ‘little bits of cake’, but can innovate around solving muffin problems – this is much more fun and has more stretch. Importantly, sales have experienced an immediate and sustained increase since the rebrand.
While there was a slight decrease in sales in year two following the launch in year one (see Figure 1), sales in year three are now up over 10%.
The success of this work was as a result of a strong collaborative working team between George Weston Foods, Naked Communications and packaging agency Landor.
The Ministry of Muffins is now busying itself working on solving the rest of the world’s muffin problems.