The secret world of biscuits

Did anyone watch the C4 programme about biscuits?   I caught up with this programme last night and I found it fascinating hearing the ex Executives from the big brands talk about their experience and the rivarly between them.

It was similar the previous week with crisps – and how Walkers came to dominate the market.

There are so many business lessons to learn from watching these programmes.

One that struck a chord with me was the journey of the Club biscuit.  If you are of a similar age to me you will remember the stong strapline “if you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit join our club”.

The thick coating of biscuit was their USP.

However, the price of cocoa took a dramatic rise that would severely impact their margin – and the market price-point prevented them from passing this on to the consumer.  So they had no choice but to reduce the levels of chocolate in the production process – replacing chocolate with chocolate flavoured coating.

They also had to change the advertising campaign as they could not use the word chocolate -losing them their USP.    The agency had to come up with a new campaign and used the word ‘chocolately’ instead.

In the meantime Kit Kit had moved their positioning from confectionary to biscuits – by producing their two finger version in packs of 6 – taking over as market leader before long.

The programme also looked at the Jaffa Cake ‘cake v biscuit’ battle with the VAT man, and the launch of supermarket own brand equivalents – some of which sailed too close to the wind!  Asda’s Puffin had to repackage their biscuits following a law suit by Mcvities who argued it was too similar to Penguin.

The lesson for me from all these stories was the influence of external factors, whether it is competitor moves or socio-economic factors – and the need to be ready to react.

Part of the strategic planning process is to undertake external analysis and identify possible threats to your business or be in a position to capitalise on opportunities.  A great tool to use for this is the PEST template  which you can download from the Strategy Tools tab.

Now, time for a cupp and a biccy