This edition of B(R)ANDING reflects a recent articleon CNN about the two leading chocolate companies in the United States, Hershey and Mars (I’m skipping the trademarks on this one because there literally will be one million). Hershey a given, you say, but Mars–WHAT THE?!? Yes, Mars, the company responsible for all those other candy bars no one really likes, plus M&Ms and now the entire Wrigley’s gum line…you know, Big Red, Juicy Fruit (still can’t deal with the fact it’s yellow now), and many more. (Tip: mix a piece of Juicy Fruit with a piece of Big Red and you’ll experience a whole notha level.)
Now, Hershey is still number one in the market, but Mars is growing fast. By now you’re wondering if this is really a branding section or if it’s an exploration into something I saw on PBS. Well, I assure you it’s about the brands. See, while Mars is beefing up operations and creating stellar facilities right down the street from it’s Pennsylvania rival, Hershey is downsizing jobs and cutting costs. Of course, with the current economic status, it is understandable that Hershey would be making cuts–even outsourcing–but are they relying too heavily on their name and reputation to carry them forward? I would argue they are. They’ve been the leader forever, and have always had America’s favorite chocolate, but taste alone can’t be your only selling point for in a digital world (at least for behemoth companies).
That brings me to my next point. While Hershey could probably rely on it’s image to carry it through to some extent, the chocolate is really what matters. Andy although you do need to market that chocolate, Mars is seizing is seizing an opportunity to elevate itself in the market by introducing premium-brand chocolates (like Dove) and others for which it can charge higher prices. The catch…it’s supposed to taste better than Hershey, and well, it might. Hershey keeps cutting corners…so much so that it’s actually taking the chocolate out of some of it’s chocolate. Whhhaaaaaaaaaa? YES! Messing with the chocolate? I know I have your attention know! In fact Hershey has been substituting some of the chocolate for cocoa butter. Mr. Goodbar happens to be my favorite, and I’m devastated to learn it’s not even real chocolate. Why a chocolate company would do that, I don’t know. The whole point of chocolate is to find the most authentic and delicious piece of chocolate that melts in your mouth and doesn’t taste weird. When you get into substitutes, it’s just not the same. That’s why Dove does taste better because it is all chocalte, and GOD is it good. What do you think about it?
Of, so how do you know if you’re treat is tainted? As mentioned in the smarticle, these substitutes can’t be called chocolate. They can, however, be called “chocolate candy,” or something similar, which can be pretty confusing. The old pufferation. I say, if there is anything other than “chocolate” or “pure chocolate,” you should “shelf it.” All of Mars products are said to be pure chocolate…in the states at least. Overseas rules differ, and most companies use fake junk.