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This is a self-funded case study using our Innovation Testing solution.
A wise man once said: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get”. But, in our never-ending quest to uncover the truth, we’re challenging that statement. Sorry Forrest!
The reality is that you’d be hard pressed finding someone who doesn’t have their go-to chocolate — and knows exactly what they’re going to grab off the supermarket shelf long before arriving. So, for a confectionery manufacturer, it’s surely a risky move launching a product where the flavor is a… complete mystery? Enter Cadbury, who clearly felt it was worth the risk, with the launch of mystery-flavored bars in the U.K.
Cadbury tasked the nation with guessing the flavors of their two mystery bars; a challenge which sparked conversation across social media, with guesses including iconic Jammie Dodgers, Turkish Delight, and mint. We’re just hoping it’s not another fish-and-chip chocolate concoction!
While all very mysterious, the question remains — would consumers be prepared to pay for the privilege of playing the flavor lottery? We wanted to see, using our 3Cs framework, if the limited-edition bars would create the buzz Cadbury were hoping for, or whether people would prefer knowing exactly what they were getting.
Cadbury Mystery Bars successfully triggered the nation’s curiosity, with the fun and novelty associated with a guessing game — to be played with family and friends (and the rest of the country through social media) — providing an added dimension to the typical chocolate consumption experience. The mystery surrounding the flavor and opportunity to win prizes helped the idea stand out, being considered highly original and unique. Despite having broad appeal, the product’s obvious drawback did bubble to the surface for some, with around one-in-five nervously questioning: “what if it’s a flavor I don’t like?”.
Despite the emphasis on secretive flavors, the brand itself was no mystery; the iconic purple packaging effortlessly leveraged Cadbury’s ingrained memory structures. But even more importantly, the overall idea felt synergistic and well-aligned with the brand — reinforcing the fun personality Cadbury has built up over the years.
There was also very little mystery about the promotion itself, with the idea of a blind guessing game something people were very familiar with. For most, it struck them as fun and different, with the opportunity to share the experience with others sparking conversation. Despite some hesitancy around the flavor roulette, Cadbury’s reputation for putting smiles on faces meant people were generally confident the product — whatever the flavor — would deliver to a satisfactory level.
The objectives of limited-edition releases generally relate to the short-term; to create excitement and buzz, deliver some incrementality, and appease retailers. On this front alone, Cadbury Mystery Bars were a success. But, as Cadbury know all-too-well, tactical plays also offer the opportunity reap much bigger rewards by building and refreshing memory structures.
‘Mystery Bars’ encouraged consumers to engage with Cadbury on a deeper level, and even — dare we say it — ‘go on a journey’ with the brand. By strengthening the depth of emotional connection and broader associations with Cadbury, the activation will deliver residual brand effects long after the product is gone from supermarket shelves.