#BrandFocus: Snacking made right — from generous joy to sustainability
by Sabrina Forbes. “We are a treat. We are chocolate. We will always ultimately deliver on that. It is an indulgent treat, but how do we make it more permissible? How do we make it [more] guilt-free?” says Lara Sidersky, Mondelēz International category lead: chocolate, South Africa and Central East Africa.
Mondelēz International is home to many iconic brands and has over 80 000 employees in 150 countries. In SA, the group employs 700 people and Cadbury Dairy Milk (and its entire range), Stimorol, Chappies, Halls, Oreo, Dentyne, and Lunch Bar, to name a few, are household brands. About a year ago, the group launched a new brand positioning, “Snacking made right”, and SnackFutures, the innovation arm that looks at local and global trends, is constantly adapting its R&D programmes to deliver more of what the people want.
Health and wellness are a massive trend worldwide and, in markets like India, for example, the chocolate category has launched products with 30% less sugar due to demand [and the threat of sugar taxes on chocolate — ed-at-large]. Another trend, according to Sidersky, is the rise in the demand for convenience. Her team is always looking for ways to make snacks more accessible on the go, be it with smaller packs, easier-to-open packaging or products that may be resealed for later. ‘Premiumisation’ is also on the increase, with consumers asking for more indulgence in the snacks they choose to treat themselves with, saying that, if they’re willing to pay more, they should be given more.
A major role of Sidersky’s is working with her team on how to get the best chocolate message out there to the right audience, because every chocolate under the Mondelēz International stable has a different purpose. Originally, the message of “joy” was what the Cadbury brand focused on. Eating chocolate is still an uplifting occasion that’s filled with joy but now the team has gone deeper into what its products mean in consumers’ lives.
Cadbury turned 80 in 2018 and, looking back to when the brand was founded by John Cadbury, it’s clear how Cadbury himself believed his products could make a difference in people’s lives and make them that little bit happier, if even just for a moment, while enjoying one of his chocolate creations. Sidersky, her team, and its above-the-line agency, Ogilvy South Africa, has taken this as a basis and have repositioned the brand as one of generosity.
“It’s all about how we believe that, in every one of us, there is that spirit of generosity. It doesn’t mean that it’s big, grand gestures; it’s the small ones that just make that little bit of difference. It goes back to our product intrinsic that there’s a glass and a half of milk in every slab. We believe there’s a glass and a half in every one. It’s not just that one, it’s that one and a half, that little bit extra we all have,” she says.
Sidersky’s main target audience is mothers who’re working hard to get by and find solace in not only treating themselves but also their kids with a bite of chocolate. The May 2019 TVC that launched the generosity positioning for Cadbury speaks directly to this message.
Recently, Cadbury Dairy Milk announced the launch of a festive season campaign that gives back to underprivileged children, GenerosiTrees. Sidersky believes the positioning of a brand that gives back to those who need it most is something that resonates with South African consumers. The #TheLittleGenerosityShop campaign, launched in May this year, saw the brand collect over 90 000 donated toys, books, and games for children’s homes around the country.
Another brand within the stable that’s making strides is Lunch Bar, a 50-year-old heritage brand with the unforgettable Makhatini TVCs bringing back fond memories for many South Africans. With 13% market share, Sidersky says that Lunch Bar plays a key role in its consumers’ lives, especially during lunch time where a large portion of blue-collar workers are choosing Lunch Bar instead of something else.
When it comes to marketing platforms for the chocolate message, she says that —although the category now spends 25% of its budget on digital — TV, activations, and out-of-home advertising still play an important part, especially for heritage brands such as Cadbury Dairy Milk. As for the creative agencies, regional contracts stipulate the requirement to work with both Ogilvy SA (a 12-year relationship) and media agency, Starcom South Africa (six years so far), while RFPs for other, more project-based jobs (such as activations) are sent to a pool of preferred agencies.
“Snacking made right” is all about creating the right snack for the right moment, made the right way, according to Navisha Bechan-Sewkuran, Mondelēz International manager: corporate and government affairs, Southern, Central, and Eastern Africa. It’s about helping a mother fill the gap in her child’s lunchbox, or giving a couple an after-dinner treat; it’s also about being there when busy executives are on the run and only have time for a quick cup of tea and a bite. “Under each of those elements, we look to see what the current trends are in terms of the snacking industry and we find that consumers don’t want to choose between having a healthy snack and having an indulgent snack. They want to have a snack to fill a gap, to fill a moment, or to celebrate an occasion. That’s why we look at things from a view of the right snack at the right moment,” she says.
Combination of elements
“Snacking made right” also filters down to the making of every product, be it through sustainable sourcing, environmental awareness, and production quality. The positioning is a combination of all these elements. Bechan-Sewkuran agrees that the group has the responsibility to ensure it’s feeding families only the best-quality products, sourced in a way that does the least harm to all involved. An example is sourcing cocoa. Legally, it’s not allowed to procure cocoa directly from farmers but is done through various cocoa boards, but Mondelēz does focus on ensuring it has a strong team on the ground to work beside the farmers.
Working directly with farmers on factors such as environmental issues, using land to grow sustainable and efficient crops, education on the ability of land to support a certain number of cocoa trees, insights into the importance of not infringing on the natural forest areas, and access to drought-, virus- and insect-resistant seeds all play a role in the greater scheme of ensuring that, in terms of the supply chain, it will have a sustainable source of cocoa well into the future. Currently, the group sources its cocoa from farmers in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Brazil, Indonesia, and India, with West Africa remaining its biggest import source.
“Quality is a huge thing for us in terms of our products. There’s a huge focus on our quality programmes. We won’t let any products go out until we are 100% satisfied that they pass our standards,” says Bechan-Sewkuran.
A programme that ensures responsible, and environmentally friendly cocoa farming was launched in 2012, and more and more Mondelēz chocolate products will soon include this Cocoa Life badge on packaging as proof of its sustainable source. By 2025, 100% of the cocoa sourced globally by the group will be this way, showing consumers that the products they’re consuming are adding value back to farmers. There is a similar programme with wheat suppliers, and there are plans to ensure that, by 2025, all packaging will be 100% recyclable.
According to Bechan-Sewkuran, in terms of giving back (apart from the generosity campaigns mentioned above), the group has to date invested R37m in an aquaponics school-feeding system, with another R25m pledged for the next three years. Two solar-powered aquaponic sites in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg use a closed system, where water high in ammonia from fish faeces is fed through hydroponic feeding troughs to grow vegetables; the water is filtered by this process and added back to the fish tank. Produce growth of up to three times the normal rate of soil-based gardening has been experienced, and is fed to children from schools in the surrounding areas.
“From a South African perspective as well, we have a very big programme called Health in Action that talks to the whole wellbeing angle. We, over the past four years, have been implementing the programme in schools where we talk educate children about good nutrition,” says Bechan-Sewkuran.
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Sabrina Forbes (IG) is an experienced writer covering the food, health, lifestyle, beverage, marketing and media industries. She runs her own full-stack web/app development and digital-first content creation company. For more, go to moonwrench.com. She is a contributing writer to MarkLives.com.