Insights behind the most significant changes to Cadbury Dairy Milk in 132 years

When a brand like Cadbury makes the most significant changes in 132 years to one of its best selling and most recognisable products, it’s a big deal.

Cadbury Dairy Milk is getting a makeover. The shape of the chocolate pieces is changing, it will now feature resealable packaging, its nut products will now only have whole nuts in them and the block itself will increase in size by 20% – for no extra charge, says the Mondelēz-owned company.

the new Dairy Milk

General manager of marketing, chocolate, Ben Wicks spoke to Marketing about the painstaking research and investment that goes into changing a product that has been a customer mainstay and consistent performer for a very long time.

“The process of talking to and engaging our audience is long and rigorous. Cadbury is Australia’s most loved food brand, so we take any change quite seriously. And there’s a lot of dialogue that happens with our consumers, this change is coming off the back of what has been an incredibly successful year for us,” Wicks says.

The success he refers to is that since launching ‘Joyville,’ the global brand platform for Dairy Milk, a year ago, it had recorded its highest market share in six years as at December 2012, raising its total share of chocolate from 19.5% to 21%.

“Consumers feel more positive in Cadbury than they have in a long time, but we’re always on the look out for how we can improve the experience even more.

“We’re always thinking, ‘how do we offer a better experience to our customers’, so in the dialogue that we have, we introduced to them, around 18 months ago, this rounder, more generous shaped piece, and they responded really positively too it.”

The shape Wicks is referring to is the new rounder look each chocolate square will now have, a format that was developed and tested by engineers and food technicians, not to mention the scores of tasting groups and consumer feedback before the hitting supermarket shelves. The rounded piece apparently creates a more creamy sensation as it rolls around inside the mouth.

So why are Cadbury changing something that is already working?

Continuing the market share growth momentum is one reason Wicks puts forward. Another is to provide consumers new news, and keeping the conversation going about Cadbury products is their biggest weapon when it comes to engaging consumers.

The reasons behind increasing the size of the block is a direct result of consumer dialogue, Wicks conceding this particular decision wasn’t as technical as changing the shape of the block: “We were constantly looking at what adds value and what doesn’t, and consumers are pretty clear, more chocolate adds value – there’s nothing earth-shattering about that,” he laughs.

“It is significant, making a change to the physical offer, and also offering a bigger block without increasing the RRP. So offering bigger value is a fairly significant, and fairly obvious thing for us to do.”

While not being able to share actual figures, the level of investment Cadbury place on innovation according to Wicks, is “parallel” to their marketing and advertising investment and is something that Cadbury as a brand takes extremely seriously.

“Locally and globally we invest an enormous amount on product improvement, both how do we optimise the core offer that we have and make it better, for example the development of Marvellous Creations, which has been extremely successful.”

The success of the Joyville campaign will see it be the overarching idea for at least the next few years, Wicks says. Cadbury will launch a new integrated campaign to accompany these product changes to Dairy Milk in the first week of May. The campaign will run across print, online, TV and outdoor advertising.

“If you think about the Joyville campaign, it’s a bit like a book. So far there has been half a dozen chapters [and] there will be a new chapter from Joyville that celebrates these changes that we are making.”

And the next chapters? Wicks also alluded to changes being made to the Cadbury Bubbly line later this year, as well as a brand new product launch for Cadbury due out in September.