Cadbury takeover – does the customer care?

The news last week that Cadbury had agreed to put the Kraft takeover to shareholders created predictably intense debate in both the UK and here in Australia.

For me, ignoring the issues being discussed by the city commentators, the takeover raises the interesting question of whether this might damage an iconic brand in the eyes of the consumer and will the Cadbury brand strategy change in the future.

Let me declare an affinity with the brand up front. I’m from Birmingham, the home of Cadbury. Cadbury was a point of pride for my home city. I feel very protective of the brand.

Cadbury & Kraft

But despite this rather starry eyed view of its Quaker heritage, the reality is that Cadbury today is very different. It is a multi-national operation that has grown through its ability to adapt to and migrate to markets around the world, establishing itself as an iconic and local brand in multiple markets.

Certainly in establishing itself  local consumer acceptance has been facilitated by committing to local manufacturing . In Australasia Cadbury has been making chocolate in Claremont, Tasmania since 1922 and in more recent times in Ringwood in Victoria and Dunedin in NZ . The takeover may cause a review of manufacturing around the globe that may affect jobs locally, but closures and job losses are nothing new for 21st century Cadbury.

What is important to the Cadbury customer is the product, nothing more,nothing less. Cadbury, its taste, look and feel, is hardwired into my brain as a ‘comfort food’ and cross referenced to ‘home’, ‘family’ and ‘childhood’. I know what I get from the Cadbury brand in terms of taste, quality and value. It’s the same for people around the world. Cadbury product even looks the same wherever I buy it. I’m certain that Kraft won’t be dropping Dairy Milk or Crème Eggs any time soon. Nor will they be playing with how the products look and taste, that would be dangerous indeed. It is these factors that are Cadbury for the consumer, not who owns who.

Cadbury's Dairy Milk

So while, as a proud brummie, my heart is heavy at the loss of 180 years of independence for the Cadbury brand, I don’t think the Cadbury brand strategy will be changing any time soon, nor will its consumers voracious appetites for its product.

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  1. Well thought out article. I never know how I should feel about a global take-over of a brand with local heritage. How important is that heritage to me as a customer Vs me as a local? On the other hand – Cadbury’s felt like a global to me for a long while.

  2. Thanks Paolo,
    The romantic in me really wanted to believe that there was something special about the Cadbury brand – and for a long time there was.
    They built the Tasmanian factory to the same model as Bournville and Australia (and probably NZ) could claim Cadbury was as much their brand as it was a UK brand.But that was a very different company to the one today.

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