With Oreo and Cadbury, Mondelez looks to expand the influence of its brands

A still from Cornetto-Oreo ad
How does one build a cookie with personality? For a brand born in 1912, more precisely, how does one stay young enough to find a place on the shopping lists of consumers several generations younger than itself? That was a challenge that Oreo, the brand formerly owned by Kraft Foods and now Mondelez began asking 5-6 years ago. 

One road that the brand decided to walk down, in its hunt for newer, younger consumers, was that of creative communication.

Using digital media to drop memes, tweet topical one-liners and such other methods, it inveigled its way into social media timelines. At the same time, its team of marketers began deconstructing the brand, looking for reasons and spaces where more and more consumers would encounter an Oreo, more often. 

Ever since, Oreo has been a part of numerous brand collaborations. In India it is now a cookie flavoured ice-cream, a brownie baked by a local bakery and a milkshake at small juice bars. Oreo brownies are in city bakeries such as Theobroma in Mumbai and HUL has a doubled-badged ice-cream flavour called Cornetto-Oreo.

"We will continue to evaluate such collaborations, not only with brands outside Mondelez but also within. The idea is to get our brands into new categories," said Anil Viswanathan, director of marketing of chocolates at Mondelez India. 

The Kwality Walls Gems ice cream
A brand that flits seamlessly between categories, comfortable wearing many hats would once have been considered marketing hara-kiri. But Oreo and Cadbury have found a fresh lease of life doing just that. And the reason, say marketers, is a new marketplace where consumers are fickle and distrustful and on the look-out for new experiences. 

According to a study by Nielsen, consumers today are part of what is termed the fast-and-fickle phenomenon. With only 8 per cent of global consumers committed to the brands they purchase, its critical for brands and retailers alike to identify the tendencies of the fast and fickle in order to better understand what these consumers prioritise, it said (Consumer disloyalty is sweeping the globe). These consumers, the report profiles, are habitual experimenters. They want to try new experiences, some with conventional brands and many with new ones. This explains the success of hybrid or fusion brands such as HULs and Mondelezs Cornetto-Oreo. This has also prompted both firms to bulk up the hybrid list, the two have also collaborated on Oreo Tubs and Gems ice creams. 

Mondelez is marrying its own brands too. Similarly, Silk Oreo and Cadbury Oreo Dipped have been runaway successes. We intend to accelerate the momentum through many more agile innovations thatll help us stay ahead of the ever-changing consumer demands, said Viswanathan.

The company has also sought out local and hyperlocal brands, in a bid to tap into growing consumer affinity towards such labels. The flagship Cadburys Dairy Milk is now partners with several small eateries and sweets shops in Chennai for chocolate dosa, Mysore Pak (a regional delicacy) and other products. In the past, Mondelez had collaborated with sweet shops in West Bengal to come up with Cadbury Mishti

As leaders in the snacking category, were closely watching consumer trends and preferences. 

This helps us offer products that are relatable for our audiences and yet well-positioned to disrupt the category. We are always looking for ways in which we can grow the category and drive consumption, added Viswanathan. Hence the innovations with the brand extensions that have led to the Cadbury Dairy Milk Spready, a chocolate spread, a chocolate variant with 30 per cent less sugar and a red velvet Silk Oreo. The company also has come out with Cadbury Dark Milk, a blend of 40 per cent dark and 60 per cent milk chocolate.  As the festive season moves forward, will have more surprises for our audiences, through products or formats in which theyre offered, Viswanathan said.

A report shows that chocolate-eating Indians are not as large  a cohort as other countries, but within the segment there are more frequent consumers than infrequent ones. And brands can leverage this frequent consumption by: 

  • Introducing better-for-you options to allow for guilt-free consumption
  • Expanding into more occasions with different types of products
  • Increasing engagement through unique flavours
Source: Chocolate Confectionery–Indian Consumer, 2019, Mintel

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