Repositioning: Not so Sweet?

After quite a long time, I happened to see this old advertisement of Taj Mahal Tea in which Saif Ali Khan explains the entire experience that goes into drinking Taj Mahal Tea. ‘Wah Taj!’ he exclaims at the end. I could not help but notice a stark resemblance of this ad with the 2008 advertisement of Cadbury Bournville- An American gentleman in the British village of Bournville who goes on to explain the entire process of enjoying this chocolate. The ad ends with him saying-‘Made from precious Ghanaian cocoa come a dark chocolate so fine; legend has it and I have learnt: You don’t just buy a Bournville, You EARN it. ’

Cadbury had a market share of over 70% in India. At this time, it started facing tough competition from imported brands like Hershey, Ferrero Rocher, Lindt and Snickers. These brands started becoming the new customer preferences and their visibility gradually started increasing. The Dark Chocolate segment was a segment not entered before by an Indian confectionery brand. Cadbury realized the gap in this market, the increasing competition and the increase in the purchasing power of the customers. Though Cadbury Bournville had been in the Indian market for over 30 years, it was this re-launch that gave Cadbury the required competitive advantage. As expected, Cadbury gained the first mover advantage in this market. It introduced new variants of Bournville like Rich Cocoa, Almond, Hazelnut, Raisin & Nut. This chocolate was, however, targeted towards the niche category. The factors that differentiated Bournville from its competitors were its pricing, promotion and positioning. It was priced at Rs. 75 as against Rs. 250 for a box of 10 pieces of Ferrero Rocher. Its positioning was as that of a premium chocolate brand. Cadbury conducted promotional campaigns through both- TV advertisements as well as Print ads. Through its print ads like: ‘After the Achievement, Before the glory’, Bournville maintained its position as the chocolate which cannot be bought but earned. However, Bournville continued to face stiff competition from Ferrero Rocher. Reports from Business Today claimed that Ferrero Rocher was the customers’ 1st preference when it came to premium chocolates.

Was it this growing competition from foreign brands that forced Bournville to reposition itself? Why did Bournville do away with such a strong positioning strategy? The new positioning as ‘Not so sweet’ did face criticism from marketing analysts. The use of this tagline as a repositioning strategy was challenged by the very fact that it’s implied that a dark chocolate is not sweet. Was the repositioning done just for the sake of it? Cadbury asserts that Bournville is a ‘chocolate meant for consumers with a mature palate’. Wouldn’t the new tagline, the repositioning hamper Bournville’s brand equity? However, it was not long before the ‘Not so sweet’ tagline became the talk of the town. It seemed as if the Ogilvy and Mather creativity did not fail this time. The ad agency effectively used social media marketing to reposition Bournville. This strategy is an example of how social media marketing can help generate the required buzz about a brand and thereby increase the brand recall. The video footage of the marriage proposal in a Dubai shopping mall helped Cadbury garner the required publicity for its brand. Within no time, the video went viral. In less than 4 days, the video had around 3 million hits on YouTube. On Facebook as well, the video was the most talked about. Shared separately on different pages that feature funny videos, it was just a matter of a few days before the video reached South East Asia followed by America. It featured on TV in the US on a channel that was covering funny videos (with a special mention about Bournville), TV in the Philippines, blogs across the world, the cover page of the Daily Mail UK, in The Huffington Post, The Mumbai Mirror and the Mid Day to name a few. The surprising fact is that this video has not yet been uploaded on the official Cadbury Bournville page nor has it been discussed about on its Facebook or Twitter pages. The brand is relying on organic reach for its promotion.

This strategy adopted by Bournville raises the basic question- is repositioning necessary? Does it reduce the brand value of a product? Though this new campaign has garnered publicity, will Bournville continue to have the brand recall as that of a premium chocolate brand? Would this repositioning strategy help Cadbury give a tougher competition to Ferrero Rocher, Hershey, Snickers and other International Premium chocolate brands that are steadily gaining popularity in the Indian market? Well, it’s just a matter of time before we get the answers to these questions.

Kavita Yajnik

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