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

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Summary

Concepts:

Masterfoods, Mars bar, markets, consumers, re-launch, publics, communication, public relations, advertising, packaging, sales, brand, chocolate, interview, trade.

Summary:

The Mars bar is part of our cultural heritage.

The Business environment faces several forces or pressures for change including:

  • changed legal requirements (e.g. new environmental laws that reduce unnecessary packaging)
  • actions of competitors (e.g. a rival markets a new product)
  • shifts in consumer demand (e.g. consumers seeking more sophisticated products).

Intelligent companies therefore use market research as a guide to ensuring that consumers' needs are met by relevant products and services.

To achieve a positive impact, any changes to the marketing mix (e.g. product, price, advertising message) should be communicated to various publics.

In this case study we show how Mars skilfully used public relations to gain the positive support of new and existing customers when it re-launched the Mars bar in March 2002.

It can be deployed to support both longer-term brand building or short-term sales promotions.

Public relations activities include:

  • working with various media to disseminate news
  • sponsoring sporting and cultural events
  • managing (and resolving) issues that potentially can affect negatively the reputation of the brand or organisation.

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).

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.

It was vital to communicate to younger people about the new bar.

The objectives of the public relations campaign prior to the re-launch were essentially two-fold:

1. Communicate the re-launch of an icon superbrand and ensure understanding of the rationale for the changes (product, packaging and advertising strapline), which should help lead consumers ultimately to accept the re-launched Mars bar.

2. Gain trade support (among retailers) to ensure a smooth transition of over thirty different packs in-store all over the UK as well as support promotional activities and effective through-the-line communication at the point of sale.

The Grocer magazine was identified as the leading trade title for the multiple sector and was therefore given an exclusive interview in March.

Learning outcomes:

As a result of carefully reading this case study, students should be able to:

  • explain what is meant by public relations (PR)
  • give examples of activities that are part of the PR process
  • explain why products need to change in line with consumer expectations
  • identify social trends that led to a need to re-position the Mars bar
  • explain key objectives of the Mars bar's promotional exercise
  • show how an effective PR campaign can snowball so that benefits exceed the costs
  • explain why it is important to evaluate PR activities
  • describe two ways in which the effectiveness of PR activities could be measured.

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