Mars Raises Bar on Nutritional Content

Discussion
Sep 15, 2008

By Bernice Hurst, Managing Partner, Fine Food Network

Filled confectionery bars from Mars Snackfood UK are being re-launched and positioned with new recipes and nutritional information featured on their packaging. Initially going out across Europe, Mars, Twix, Milky Way and Snickers will all become free from artificial colors, flavorings and preservatives. Each one will have labels detailing guideline daily amounts for the intake of calories, fats (including saturates) sugar and salt.

The ‘Raising the bar’ campaign is designed to demonstrate the company’s “commitment to improving the nutritional credentials of chocolate. It is also a first for Mars to be including multiple brands in a single advert,” according to Fiona Dawson, managing director for Mars Snackfood. Ms. Dawson added, “The creatives produced for this project are bold and punchy…Our work in this area goes much further than these product changes, however, and this campaign is just the first step in our plans to make positive, meaningful changes to our confectionery products and the way we do business.”

Saturated fats across all products will be reduced in the near future. In addition, funsize Milky Way, Maltesers, Mars and Twix will contain less than 100 calories each. Paul Goalby, corporate affairs manager for Mars UK, told just-food, “Consumers just want to know what is in the products they buy and this is our way of helping them do that.”

The ‘Raising the bar’ campaign has been used since 2006 but this is the first time that Mars has marketed to consumers emphasizing nutritional improvements to their snack products. Advertisements will substitute the brand name with a nutritional message and will appear in national and women’s consumer press in the UK from September 9.

Discussion questions: What do you think of Mars’ push to emphasize nutrition in its candy bars in ingredients and labeling? Do you think other candy companies will follow suit?

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13 Comments on "Mars Raises Bar on Nutritional Content"


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Cathy Hotka
Guest
13 years 8 months ago

Kudos to Mars for raising the bar.

Food is such a dramatically different cultural element than it used to be. Breakfast used to come in salty–bacon, eggs, hash browns –and sweet–danish, muffins, cereal–versions. No one questioned the nutritional value of various options. Today, even little children check the nutrition facts, and criticize Mom for bringing home snacks that have too many grams of fat. Nearly every evening news program warns us to include or avoid a food we never questioned before. Mars is going with the flow. Now, about those 100 calorie bars…doesn’t that just mean that they’re even smaller than before?

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
13 years 8 months ago

This is great for the consumer and will probably lift sales for Mars. How many customers put the candy down because they didn’t know the facts? It is OK to indulge but consumers need to know what they are eating. The healthy living push has created this need for information and Mars and its competitors are doing a good thing for themselves and their customers by conveying this information.

John Crossman
Guest
John Crossman
13 years 8 months ago

I like this idea. Many consumers are more concerned with nutrition and every little step helps.

Jonathan Marek
Guest
13 years 8 months ago

I can’t imagine this would help sales. Candy isn’t good for you. Everyone knows that. But when the info is right in front of the consumer, won’t that just make him or her feel more guilty diving in? I sure hope they’ve done a real-world in-market test of this one, to see the actual effect on consumer sales…not just some focus group, virtual world simulation, or theoretical choice modeling.

Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
13 years 8 months ago

Shoppers make choices about the food they eat, and are spending more time reading the labels. Consumers will continue to eat candy as an occasional treat or more often as they choose. Knowing that it has less harmful saturated fat, more natural ingredients or fewer preservatives will resonate with some shoppers. People who are looking to make better nutritional choices may read the labels and decide if this is “a little better” than some alternatives.

A chocolate candy bar is still a treat; taste and appeal are still the reason to buy. Maintaining that sweet, familiar taste that drives consumers to buy with a more natural formulation will become standard in this category.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
13 years 8 months ago

Mars has always put out delicious, high-quality confections even if they were a challenge to one’s health. Now, our society seeks better nutrition for the populace. But money is tightening and while more nutritious candy products are desirable, one hopes Mars won’t increase prices of nutrient-added candy at the expense of increased sales. I, for one, still miss those great Forever Yours bars–sans good nutrition.

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
13 years 8 months ago

It’s chocolate candy–we eat chocolate for lots of reasons, nutrition not being one of them. The campaign may well provide some guilt reduction, but a chocolate candy bar by any other name is still chocolate. Mars may get some initial advantage–if other manufacturers choose to do this too, their edge will go away.

Charles P. Walsh
Guest
Charles P. Walsh
13 years 8 months ago

Candy and Snack Foods are inherently unhealthy and emphasizing their nutritional value is a bit like a politician stating “trust me.”

That said, the approach is fundamentally sound from a marketing perspective. Consumers want to feel good about the choices that they make in their lives and if this new campaign can remove some of the angst that many of them may have from eating calorie and fat packed snack bars, it can be a positive for Mars.

I can attest to the fact that upon learning that drinking one glass of wine per day is good for the heart, I felt much better about my wine drinking habits. In fact I thought that if “one” glass of wine per day were good for me, why not double that benefit?

Seriously, it is all about marketing and product positioning and to paraphrase Barack Obama’s recent paraphrase…you can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.

Max Goldberg
Guest
13 years 8 months ago

As consumers and governments become more concerned about obesity all food products are moving towards “healthier” advertising messages. In Germany, Ferrero advertises that its candy bars are healthy because they are made with real milk.

Consumers need real nutritional information, not advertising hype. When candy bars advertise that they are healthy, consumers need to beware.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
13 years 8 months ago

Not so fast boys…plenty of people want to believe “better for you”–as in not as bad for you as opposed to actually healthy–means “good for you.” Americans devour mountains of sugar, salt and fat a year so telling them it’s better when there are fewer calories or a raisin in the bar or whatever is going to be effective–logical or not.

Marc Gordon
Guest
Marc Gordon
13 years 8 months ago

Is this a bad thing? Of course not!

But let’s not forget that these are still candy bars and contain little if any actual nutrition. Just because you reduce some of the bad stuff doesn’t mean it becomes good for you. And that could become a concern for people depending on the marketing campaign Mars chooses to go with. Responsible labeling deserves responsible advertising.

Now, what we really need is some way to squeeze some nutrition into a Krispy Kreme donut.

Mark Lilien
Guest
13 years 8 months ago

Mars is about 4 decades late to the party. Health food stores in the 1960s were selling “all-natural” candy bars. And how many years have you seen granola bars and Nutri-Grain bars? Something really difficult: the all-natural Twinkie.

Dan Desmarais
Guest
Dan Desmarais
13 years 8 months ago

I thought Snickers was always marketed as a meal replacement.

If you give the consumer more information you’ll find more happy consumers. Today they don’t really know what they’re eating.

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