Cost Cutting Cadbury Candy Fiasco

Marketing research sensory testing so handy to shoulder the blame.

Cadbury Cream EggsInternal political squabbles abound in corporate meeting rooms large and small. Sales (we do all the work!) vs Marketing (we make it all happen, you just pick up the phone!). Product Development (look at our beautiful baby!) vs Finance (it costs how much?). Senior Management (introducing our new initiative!) vs Operations (how are we supposed to make that happen?).

So it’s handy to have someone to break the tie. Or to blame unpleasant decisions on.

Enter Marketing Research. On a good day, we get to be the ones who represent the voice of the consumer, pleading for quality, health and reasonable pricing, and to therefore help to keep business moving in a positive direction. Or the ones telling the truth (with a small t) when everyone else seems to be enmeshed in political struggles to bring credit (and the accompanying budgets and people) to their department.

But on some days we’re the ones on whose shoulders are placed unhappy decisions. Like replacing the Cadbury Cream Egg shell, forever made (at least in the UK) of Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate, with some lesser cocoa product. “Consumers spoke!” said spokespeople, “and liked it better!”  (I’m paraphrasing.)

Having not only talked with hundreds of consumers about myriad topics, but also having moderated tons of in-person marketing research sensory testing, I can tell you that people like things sweeter, saltier, richer and with more bacon. Unless they work out a lot, in which case these same qualities sometimes raise suspicions.

But the lovely folks in the Consumer Testing department would never have been conducting this research to begin with if their bosses, the newest owners of Cadbury, weren’t interested in ways to pull more money out of their acquisition. “The consumers made us do it” sounds much better than “Frankly we’re greedy.”

Geopolitics this isn’t, but this American chocolate loving researcher sends her thoughts today across the pond in a show of solidarity against the forces of faceless degradation. Go Dairy Milk!

Colorado marketing research professional Jennifer Cooper heads BuyerSynthesis, the buywhys™ marketing research company. Her research helps clients make smarter, more profitable marketing decisions. She can be reached at

 Photo by Sean

2 thoughts on “Cost Cutting Cadbury Candy Fiasco

    1. Jennifer Cooper Post author

      Yes, I agree. And both cases, Coke and Cadbury, illustrate the differences between unbranded sensory testing and the power of taste memories, especially when connected to brands. We’ve done some interesting work using a combination of quantitative sensory testing and in-person qualitative research in a branded context.


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