Getting the right message across - the re-launch of Mars
A Masterfoods case study

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Page 3: Changing the Mars bar

The UK confectionery market is worth over £3.5billion a year with over 50accounted for by chocolate products. In recent years, sales growth in chocolate confectionery has slowed and competition for market share has increased. Within the last thirty years, the Mars taste has been extended into other developed categories, including ice-cream and seasonal products (e.g. easter eggs, advent calendars).

Mars created its strapline 'Work, Rest and Play' in 1959; it became one of the most famous slogans of all time. In early 2002, almost seventy years after its introduction, the Mars bar was still the UK's best selling chocolate bar with 7.2of market sales. However, in the all-important chocolate confectionery market, Mars bar sales began to decline faster than the market segment as a whole.

Accordingly, to re-establish its position, the Mars bar needed to have elements of its marketing mix revised.

Masterfoods, the company that owns Mars bar, decided on the revised marketing mix that would be revealed in March 2002, and announced a £7.5m re-launch. This involved new advertising and packaging, together with renewed in-store and consumer promotions. Approximately £250, 000 was spent on PR related activities.

In designing the re-launch, it was vital to retain many of the successful elements of the Mars bar's 70 year brand heritage, so as to not alienate its loyal consumer base who are typically the most resistant to any changes, real or perceived, to a familiar friend.

In considering what changes might be required, a significant amount of both qualitative and quantitative research was carried out to:

  • evaluate the evolving role of a Mars bar in peoples' daily lives
  • establish how revising elements of the marketing mix could affect consumption.

Critical to decision-making was an understanding of the role played by social change.

One of the most significant changes in society has been the growing importance of women as income earners. Today about half of the labour force is female and large numbers of women lead busy working lives that influence the snacking habits of the population as a whole.

Traditionally, the Mars bar was promoted as an energy-giving male snack when in reality 40of all Mars bars eaten were by women. Given that, increasingly, a typical Mars bar eater was aged at least 25, it was finding itself less relevant to a younger age group who in the past had enjoyed one more than anyone else. This problem had to be addressed.

The major elements of the re-launch picked up by the media were:

  • Recipe change

Fundamentally, the Mars bar's composition remains unchanged. There was a slight change, however, in the production process which resulted in the nougat being whipped more to increase the feeling of lightness.

  • Packaging

The wrapper design was modified to deliver a more classy yet friendly brand image as well as improved eye-catching visibility in-store.

  • Advertising message

The new strapline for the Mars bar is 'Pleasure you can't measure' which reflects the indescribable great taste and immeasurable everyday enjoyment that consumers gets from the Mars bar. New advertisements for the Mars bar are targeted at younger people, and now focus more on emotional satisfaction related to the consumer belief that 'a Mars bar just makes me feel good about life right now'. The result is that the Mars bar has already largely shed its former image as a hefty, hunger-busting mouthful and has become more of an every day treat.

Masterfoods | Getting the right message across - the re-launch of Mars