The Consumer Research Is Always Right

14 Jan

We’ve just barely gotten into Easter candy season, and already there’s a scandal that’s threatening to rock confectionery lovers to their core.

Erm, I don’t know exactly what I mean by that, but there are two dramatic revelations about this year’s batch of Cadbury Creme Eggs (already in stores!) that British egg-lovers are not happy about:

  1. The half-dozen packs of eggs? Now in packs of five.
  2. Even more shocking than that? The recipe has changed.

Number one wouldn’t be a big problem if Cadbury (or its parent Mondelez International, which you might remember as being part of Kraft) could just convince every egg farmer in the UK to stop selling eggs by the dozen or half-dozen and start selling them in 10- and 5-packs, with no change in price. They do that, and consumers will eventually think that of course, eggs come in 5-packs. And then our chocolate eggs can once again correlate to real life.

Number two is a little tougher to reason with. The Independent newspaper reported that the eggs used to be made with Cadbury’s famous Dairy Milk chocolate. This year, the shell is a “standard cocoa mix.”

And it tastes different.

Of course, the company tested the change with consumers, and according to them, the new version tasted just fine.

I don’t doubt they’re telling the truth. But it reminds me of a presentation I once heard about a frozen pizza brand that wasn’t selling so well. Former customers didn’t like the brand anymore because it didn’t taste right. The company said that they’d had to make changes to keep the cost of the pizzas down. They’d tested the changes and that consumers hadn’t tasted any noticeable differences from the previous version.

Except that they’d made something like ten changes to the pizza over a number of years, and version number 10 tasted nothing like version number 1. That’s why the original customers didn’t want to buy it anymore.

I understand that manufacturing prices do increase, and when you’re dealing with a product ingredient that’s not only a commodity that fluctuates in price, it’s a commodity that’s been hit with ebola scares, which has increased prices. I imagine that these increases get passed on to you the customer, or companies figure out how to keep prices about the same (since customers also get upset about price increases).

Either way, if Cadbury Creme Eggs go down Recipe Tinkering Road, the long-term results might not be so pretty.


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