Arnott’s Tim Tam brokers free trade negotiations

July 2020

Arnott’s Tim Tam are part of Australia’s cultural fabric, having been a much loved and adored brand for many decades.

In a recent twist of events, Tim Tam were thrust into the middle of free trade negotiations between Australia and the UK because, well, 2020 has been nothing if not unpredictable.

Riding this wave of publicity, Tim Tam’s social media department went into overdrive, teasing devout fans with four potential ‘British infused’ flavours: ‘Scones & Cream’, ‘Fish & Chips’, ‘Scotch Egg’ and ‘Bangers & Mash’ – with an accompanying poll so that the public could vote on which one they wanted to see stocked on grocery store shelves.

While clearly tongue-in-cheek, we thought it would be fun nonetheless to put the flavour ideas to UK consumers to see if they had any potential.

We use 3 C’s to predict the in-market success of new products:

  • Captivate: Does it stand out and elicit a positive emotional response?
  • Connect: Is the brand instantly recognisable?
  • Compel: Does it pre-dispose people toward purchase?

Captivate

Each of the controversial flavours elicited an evocative response – albeit much of this was negative. While the novelty-factor made them highly distinctive, the savoury and chocolate combination turned most people off.

The sweeter and more recognisable ‘Scones & Cream’ flavour was greeted with the most enthusiasm – however, it wasn’t perceived as overly different to offerings from other brands, nor did it possess “wow” factor.

Connect

‘Scones & Cream’ aligned much better with Tim Tam’s long history of producing sweet and indulgent biscuits. While the brand has developed its fair share of ‘experimental’ flavours (‘Coconut & Lychee’ springs to mind), these haven’t expanded beyond Australian shores.

Instead, Tim Tam are best-known for their Australian origins, leading to dissonance over attempts to align the product with British tropes such as ‘Scotch Egg’ instead of, say, ‘Murray River Salted Caramel’. As a result, the new savoury flavours were seen as little more than a gimmick – not indicative of an ‘innovative’ or ‘progressive’ brand.

Compel

This poses an issue; if people interpret your products as unpleasant or poor quality (which they did), then this risks tarnishing the brand’s reputation.

While the controversial flavours were only intended to spark conversation and sharing – helping differentiate Tim Tam – they didn’t do a particularly good job of it. In fact, ‘Scones & Cream’ was just as effective at encouraging people to talk about the product – without carrying the negative baggage.

Conclusion

A few unappetising flavours are unlikely to dampen the tide of good-will Tim Tam have built-up over the last half-century. However, cutting into the brand’s positioning as a ‘premium’ biscuit to push ‘zany’ and ‘gimmicky’ connotations risks undermining this work.

While it might seem obvious to those reading this that the ‘British Collection’ was meant in jest, the inclusion of one relatively serious flavour (‘Scones & Cream’ – which, in fact, is now looking like it will become a reality) meant the general public weren’t so sure.

Our attempts to evaluate the potential of these new flavours was never intended to be taken seriously; however, it does provide a timely reminder that the delivery of any brand communications – particularly when humour is involved – requires careful thought and consideration.

What could have been done differently to more clearly convey the light-hearted intent of Tim Tam’s ‘British Collection’?

British Tim Tam Flavours Innovation Testing Results

This is a self-funded case study using our Innovation Testing solution.

We were supported by leading market research technology platform Cint to collect data from respondents in the UK.

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