Kraft Foods South Africa: Unwrapping Chocolate’s Recipe for Success

As the old song relates: “I’m forever blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air;” at Kraft Foods South Africa, this winter has very much been a bubbly season thanks to the launch of the Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Bubbly bar – their first aerated Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate slab in the country.

kraftKraft Foods of course needs little introduction, one of the global giants of food manufacturing, with brands that include Cadbury, Jacobs, Oreo, Oscar Mayer and Philadelphia helping the organisation to achieve annual revenues in the region of $50 billion, thanks to its instantly recognisable range of biscuits, confectionery, beverages, cheese, grocery products and convenient meals in over 170 countries.

In South Africa, Kraft Foods has determined that chocolate is not only the way to a girl’s heart, rather that of an entire nation. It is a philosophy that has served the organisation well for a number of years, through its Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate.

The Cadbury brand became part of Kraft in February 2010, with both companies already having an established presence in Southern Africa. The integration of the two companies into a single legal entity Kraft Foods South Africa was formally completed on March 1, 2011. Cadbury had the larger presence and the move dramatically and instantly gave Kraft a much more sizeable footprint in the region, particularly in confectionary markets.

“We have quite a few well known and well-loved brands in South Africa,” acknowledges Tamsin Darroch, Senior Brand Manager on Chocolate Slabs, “Kraft has representations in chocolate where we have 14 brands; we also sell chewing gum and candy brands, while the grocery side includes brand names like Jacobs, Oreos and Tuc biscuits.”

“Cadbury has had a presence in South Africa for a number of years and has literally become a part of the South African consumer’s mindset. Under the brand we manufacture quite a few international brands, like the ever-popular Cadbury Dairy Milk. The Cadbury name is now so entrenched in the local psyche that many people regard it as almost a South African brand.”

Bubbles wrapper 3D 1Darroch says that the introduction of the new Cadbury Dairy Milk Bubbly bar has been perfectly timed, with a number of factors making its August launch an instant success. “Kraft Foods have manufactured aerated chocolate before, but never over here – and it is a segment of the market that continues to grow. We saw this as the perfect opportunity to create a chocolate slab that the Cadbury Dairy Milk consumer would instantly recognise the taste of. The project was also ready to launch during the back end of winter, which historically sees an increase in sales.”

Indeed the winter period has historically seen Cadbury successfully launch new products, with perhaps its 2007 – 2010 offerings, the Local ‘n Lekker range, making the biggest impact. “We launched four South African dessert flavours: Traditional Melk Tert, Mint Crisp Fridge Tart, Creamy Cheese Cake and Neapolitan Ice-Cream which all came enveloped in decadent Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate, for a limited period only. We later launched Chocolate Brownie, Malva Pudding, Ice Cream & Chocolate Sauce and Coffee and Condensed Milk – all smothered in Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate, but again as limited editions for a four-year period,” Darroch describes.

The Local ‘n Lekker campaign consumer response was phenomenal, in three months the brand had sold over 4 million units, underlining the importance of adapting global brands to suit the local palette. “I think that the striking point is to look to the consumer for insight and we have always undertaken extensive consumer research ahead of any launch. Local ‘n Lekker was tremendously successful and so too was our Cashew and Coconut launch a few years ago – again we tested and received exceptionally high responses and the product was so well received that it has become a permanent line,” explains Darroch.

The Cadbury Dairy Milk Bubbly bar has been launched to great acclaim, with television and radio commercials and excellent feedback from consumers via social networks. To keep up with communication and keep consumers updated on the latest products and news Cadbury Dairy Milk brand went live in August 2012 with a Cadbury Dairy Milk South Africa Facebook page.

“Kraft Foods has manufacturing facilities in Swaziland, Botswana and Namibia, as well as in Port Elizabeth. Our chocolate slabs are all manufactured in Port Elizabeth and we have been able to call upon the latest technology and shared learning around Kraft Foods, to produce the first re-sealable chocolate wrapper in South Africa. This re-sealable technology will be rolled across the majority of the Cadbury Dairy Milk range.

90g Top Deck RS 3D 72dpi“We were able to learn from our international business and research showed that consumers enjoyed the experience of chocolate beyond the product – for example the opening and closing of the bar was perceived as an important almost ceremonial experience, while the re-sealable wrapper also means that the Cadbury Dairy Milk treat can be saved for later.”

The Cadbury Dairy Milk Bubbly launch and new packaging technology comes off the back of a challenging year, with South Africa feeling the effects of the global economic downturn. However despite the gloomy outlook, it seems there remains a place for chocolate:

“Undoubtedly consumers have cut back on spending and chocolate has felt the impact of this, but it remains an aspirational and affordable luxury. Chocolate is still very much part of everyday consumerism and is entrenched in consumer lives. For the majority of South Africans, chocolate still holds a special quality and of course it retains its emotional attachment,” Darroch suggests.

Aside from its established brand names, Kraft Foods is also renowned for its pioneering spirit and in November 2011 Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate became the first major business in South Africa to achieve Fairtrade certification for a confectionery product.

Fairtrade certification is a system designed to make sure small-scale farmers, farm workers and their communities enjoy better working and living conditions. The system does this through fairer prices, better labour conditions, community development and environmental sustainability. To date Cadbury have sold 29 million Fair Trade Cadbury Dairy Milk plain slabs.

Whilst Fairtrade looks to secure local economies, Cadbury has also prioritised its own set of corporate social responsibility initiatives. Top of the list of objectives is sustainable agriculture, aimed at fighting hunger and alleviating poverty. The company has invested over R1.8 million into a farming project in Mbashe Municipality, assisting some 400 farmers in the Eastern Cape.

An Enterprise Development Project in Tembisa has seen Cadbury invest over R3 Million in training and empowering over 30 women with business and entrepreneurial skills. The women, who were never employed before have been turned into small business owners offering baking; sewing and nappy making services.

Such efforts of course give Kraft Foods South Africa an eye very much on the future – and turning to the next two years, the company has firm aspirations of wanting to continue creating brands that people love and that means listening to consumers and converting their wishes into opportunities.