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Mars Missing Opportunities in Evolving Consumer Trends

The Mars confectionery brand suffered a decline in UK sales in 2010, despite significant investment in a marketing campaign that coincided with the 2010 World Cup. Various reasons have been suggested for the brand’s declining sales; these include the poor performance of the England football team in the aforementioned football tournament having a negative impact on Mars’s primary marketing focus for the year, and variants of the Mars Bar brand – such as Mars Delight and Mars Planets – underperforming. However, given that the company’s flagship Mars Bar has also witnessed a fall in sales, it has been suggested that the brand is becoming increasingly out of touch with prevailing consumer trends in the chocolate confectionery market.

Snacking occasions continue to increase in popularity in the UK for a variety of reasons. However, it is crucial that chocolate confectionery manufacturers enhance perceptions of value through their offerings at a time when consumers are demonstrating frugal mindsets and manufacturers are finding it necessary to transfer rising raw material costs along the supply chain. By its very nature, consumption of chocolate confectionery is inherently indulgent, and buying behavior is becoming more complex as consumers seek out premium products that help satisfy feelings of self-entitlement but are less detrimental to their health. Increasingly, shoppers are also looking to enjoy these consumption experiences in the company of others. Datamonitor has identified four key trends influencing consumers’ choice of confectionery product and willingness to loosen their purse strings. This case study assesses the extent to which the Mars brand aligns with these trends, and what can be done to increase its appeal in the future.

Health – Consumers are seeking out “better for you” offerings and are less willing to make a trade-off between health and sensory appeal. As such, it is crucial that manufacturers seek to alleviate the guilt associated with chocolate consumption. Mars has reduced the saturated fat content of its flagship product, and needs to ensure that consumers are confident that this move will not impact upon taste.

Sensory appeal – Consumers are seeking out affordable indulgences and want premium products that satisfy feelings of entitlement. More contemporary packaging designs in the chocolate countline sector can give products a more upscale image and entice consumers. Although Mars’s packaging and branding is iconic and universally recognized, its packaging has been seen by some industry experts as misaligning with more modern and stylish offerings in the market.

Comfort – Escapism has been a key driver of chocolate confectionery occasions over the last couple of years, with shoppers looking for a temporary break from the pressures of everyday life. This has resulted in a plethora of nostalgia-themed product launches and marketing campaigns in the UK reminding people of simpler times. Whilst Mars has successfully tapped into the nostalgia trend before, its 2010 World Cup campaign was too dependent on external factors.

Sharing – The desire to maximize personal relationships with family and friends while saving money by visiting bars and restaurants less has resulted in consumers socializing at home more regularly, looking for affordable indulgences that can act as a social facilitator. The difficulty for Mars’s countline offering is that its flagship product has not been ideally placed to tap into the rising number of sharing occasions, meaning that it has had to target this growing market with brand extensions that are not as recognized by consumers.

Find this interesting. For more, please read Mars Case Study: Missed Opportunities in Evolving Consumer Trends or our  on chocolate confectionery industry reports

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