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This is a self-funded case study using our Innovation Testing solution.
With a reputation for its divisive nature, Marmite recently stepped in to officiate the home-brewed marriage of two familiar flavours, adding the first permanent fixture to the brand’s core product – Marmite Peanut Butter. With the brand consistently tapping into insights about how people use and view Marmite, the new launch was befitting of the brand.
As it turns out, many consumers already swear by the combination of Marmite and peanut butter, acting as amateur kitchen chemists to formulate the optimal flavour combination. These outspoken devotees introduced the concoction into the public consciousness, so Marmite acknowledging this demand was simultaneously outrageous and cathartic. The brand ran online polls pitting crunchy and smooth varieties against each other (with Brexit-like results), campaigns encouraging Marmite lovers not to double dip with other spreads, and a high-profile press tour to build buzz and excitement pre-launch.
But while much of the nation is talking about it, will this translate into incremental purchase of Marmite Peanut Butter or increased consumption frequency of core Marmite (for DIY experimentalists)? To find out, we ran Marmite Peanut Butter through our innovation testing tool, speaking to consumers of each of the individual components.
As always, we use three ‘C’s’ to predict the in-market potential of new product innovations:
Predictably, Marmite Peanut Butter elicited an intense emotional response from consumers. The unconventional mix of flavours was highly unique and distinctive, befitting the brand’s penchant for disruption and controversy.
Not everyone responded favourably, however; while most people agreed it was a unique proposition, many found the flavour combination off-putting. None-the-less, the visceral response helped fuel social conversation and sharing.
Despite peanut butter being the notable addition it was still Marmite that stole the show, with the final product inimitably belonging to the masterbrand. However, as the first permanent addition to Marmite’s range in its 100+ year history, some people questioned how well the product aligned with the brand.
The monolithic nature of Marmite limits how well its branding cues can be repurposed; while few struggled to identify the brand, the absence of familiar branding devices – such as the rounded jar – hindered fluency of recognition. Maintaining the brand’s iconic circular logo and colour scheme helped partly offset this.
The brand’s willingness to take risks and push the boundaries meant the new product reinforced Marmite’s ‘modern’ and ‘progressive’ positioning, while staying true to its ‘long-standing heritage’. Almost universally people endorsed the brand as ‘trustworthy’, suggesting even those who dislike the product believe in Marmite’s acknowledgement of how divisive it is.
People found Marmite Peanut Butter new and different compared to everything else in the spreads’ aisle. Furthermore, by delivering credible benefits and tapping into relevant needs, reasonable purchase interest will be complimented by those inspired to make their own substitute – particularly on a trial basis. This will boost frequency of consumption of the core Marmite product.
Marmite’s ruthless consistency has built the brand into what it is today. While the launch sees Marmite pivot in a new direction, it has done so in the typically fun and irreverent manner the brand is famous for – subsequently predisposing people more favourably to the masterbrand. And this is where good product innovation can be so lucrative.
While Marmite Peanut Butter isn’t likely to drive strong incremental purchase, seeding a new flavour idea in people’s heads – which is both credible and relevant to their needs – will spur usage frequency of Marmite’s core product.
To further encourage trial, clearly spelling out how Marmite’s food scientists have devised the optimal blend of ingredients to make it unlike anything you could ever concoct yourself at home, will be key to convincing people to add it to their shopping trolley.
We were supported by leading market research technology platform Cint to collect data from respondents in the UK.