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How to make a 'flat' category stand up and start selling.

The chocolate craze that began in the 1970s has linked chocolate with such things as romance, gourmet foods, and elegant lifestyles. And as a result, sales of expensive, boutique chocolate--even "designer" chocolate--have soared. But in the supermarket, sales of chocolate in the large bar category have remained flat.

So the challenge to Peter Paul Cadbury, and especially to our Cadbury's milk chocolate brand, was apparent: We had to take a sleepy product category, put it on its feet, and make it grow.

To do this, we began by tackling one of the most basic questions of all: How does the product appear to the consumer on the shelf? It didn't take long to conclude that the shelf presentation of large-sized milk choclate bars was as flat as their sales. Virtually everyone's bars were piled up like bricks. And without exception, the bars were designed to be read horizontally.

Because chocolate is almost always bought on impulse, this approach to packaging and merchandising was holding back the large bar category and preventing it from having the strong, dramatic shelf presence necessary to build impulse sales.

Therefore, we began our search for a new merchandising approach with the well-documented fact that you automatically increase sales about 40% if you take a product that's lying down and stand it up on the shelf--as the packagers of cereals and other boxed packaged goods have long known.

So we could have taken our existing Cadbury bar, invested in special shelf organizers, and tilted it up on its side. But we believed we had an opportunity to create an even more dramatic shelf presence by taking our horizontal look and doing something unheard of in the molded chocolate bar category--giving the bar a vertical package.

And that's just what we did. We created the first chocolate bar that "stands up on its feet," so to speak. And we also took advantage of this design format change to create a package that we consider to be even more attractive to the consumer. The bar now comes in thick gold foil, and its wrapper features a purple and gold design showing the various natural ingredients in the six different Cadbury's bars.

We believe the new packaging has a dramatic shelf presence and far greater consumer appeal. But for supermarket operators, who are looking for maximum sales for every inch of valuable shelf space, the vertical look has an even greater benefit as a space management tool.

Five facings of our previous bars (generating a total retail sales value of $5.95), could be accommodated on 2.7 feet of shelf space. Now, with the vertical packaging, the same 2.7 feet of space can handle bar facings with a retail value of $12.94.

Of course, to keep the bars "standing up," we did design new shelf organizers. And, frankly, we don't care if other milk chocolate bar manufacturers also use them. We believe the entire large molded chocolate bar category will benefit from a more aggressive appearance on the shelf.

In examining the future for Cadbury bars, we also came to the conclusion that our old "large" bar--a 5-once bar with a suggested retail price of $1.09--did not appeal to the broadest spectrum of supermarket shoppers. Shoppers might be looking for a bar to consume themselves or one to share with their family. Our 5-ounce bar seemed to be sitting on the fence between these two categories. So we created a new 3.5 ounce bar for individual consumption and a 7-ounce giant bar as "the size to share."

Since two giant bars standing vertically are exactly as wide as three large bars, all our shelf organizers and racks can be used to hold any combnation of bar sizes would generate maximum sales in the least amount of space.

We also took that perennial merchandisng favorite--the revolving floor rack--and made something that looks amazingly like a paperback book rack. Only it will be selling milk chocolate--not books. We are encouraging use of it in a secondary location in the supermarket away from the confectionery department. The floor rack holds 10 cases of product--a retail value of $382--in 2-1/4 square feet of floor space.

Our plan looked good on paper and when we put it to the test in Salt Lake city, the results were better than we had anticipated.

SAMI figures told us that our sales increased 102% vs. the previous year's figures in the nine-month lead market period, March through December of 1983.

Last April, the new products, racks and shelf organizers were distributed throughout the U.S.--supported, of course, by advertising and public relations campaigns designed to build trial useage by attracting new "chocolate lovers" and to increase consumption with current chocolate consumers.

The resulting sales increase, we believe, will demonstrate that innovative supermarket merchandising, a strong package, and proper promotional support--all working together in a dynamic manner--can truly put a "flat" product category on its feet, and make it a marathon performer.
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Title Annotation:Cadbury's milk chocolate
Author:Hanlon, James
Publication:Progressive Grocer
Date:Aug 1, 1984
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