Monday, 18 January 2016

Cadbury Creme Egg Catastrophe

The Cadbury Creme Egg has long since been a staple of Easter. The product itself has enjoyed somewhat of a cult following amassing more than 2.5 million people into its fan club. It therefore came as somewhat of a surprise that earlier this week the confectioner Cadbury announced that last year sales of its famous chocolate Creme Egg had fallen by over $12 million.

Cadbury was purchased by the US food giant Kraft in 2010 which later changed to Mondelez International. At the time of its purchases many feared that the longstanding Cadbury recipes from the 192-year-old company would be cheapened inline with the American manufactured Hershey products.


In hindsight, the drop in sales should really come as no surprise. On the 12th January 2015 Cadbury made the announcement that the Creme Egg recipe would be changed forever. Instead of being made from the usual glass and a half of Cadbury Dairy Milk product it would instead be made from a cheaper standard cocoa chocolate mix. The traditional half a dozen eggs were also reduced to just five with the price remaining unchanged leaving customers shell-shocked.

Cadbury marketing manager Claire Low defended the company saying, "The fundamentals of Cadbury Creme Egg remain exactly the same. It's simply not the case that the Creme Egg has always been made with Cadbury Dairy Milk." However, the damage to the bottom line cannot be underestimated as a result of making changes to the product. Cadbury has been left with egg on their faces as their market share has dropped from 42 to 40 per cent in the last year.

The negative backlash to the recent changes has caused uproar on social media with many consumers expressing their anger at the new recipe. Of course, this would not be the first time a larger food manufacturer has made changes to its product angering consumers. When Coke changed its famous recipe to New Coke in the spring of 1985, it caused a similar backlash. As a marketer, it is important to listen to the voice of the consumer. In changing a winning recipe, Cadbury have alienated their core customers who were quick to notice the difference, calling the product a “Frankenstein egg”.


Much like Classic Coke, many customers have formed strong attachments to products that have been a fundamental part of their childhood. Attempts to change fundamental attributes while marketing a product the same is always likely to cause outrage. In their defense, a spokesperson for Cadbury added, “The Creme Egg had never been called Cadbury Dairy Milk Creme Egg. We have never played on the fact that Dairy Milk was used.”

One can only wonder if Cadbury would have made a different decision given a second chance.

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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