KitKat Japan’s latest flavour shows the importance of sampling

- Jun 20, 2016 -

KitKat’s latest flavour launch in Japan may be one step too far for many consumers; the new mascarpone and melon KitKat has received a mixed reaction on social media, with some praising the brand’s creative attempts and others stating they will be steering well clear of the latest iteration of the popular snack.

The Nestlé brand is known for its vast array of flavours, both in the UK and across the world, with previous releases in the British market including everything from white chocolate to coffee and even cookies and cream.

KitKat’s newest bar

The new KitKat sandwiches powder of Hokkaido melon and mascarpone cheese between sweet wafers, which is then covered in mild white chocolate, Nestlé said. It features a mild sweetness of Hokkaido melon and a fresh taste of mascarpone cheese.

“Other Kit Kat Japan flavours already launched include hot Japanese chilli, red bean sandwich and brown sugar syrup,” The Telegraph newspaper reported.

Kit Kat isn’t the only brand to have released a new variety of product that has divided consumer opinion. Back in 2014, Coca-Cola launched lower-calorie Coca-Cola Life, using naturally sourced stevia as an alternative sweetener. In essence, the product had all the components to be successful in a world where sugar is becoming increasingly maligned. With rising concerns also over the aspartame content of its original soft drink, Coca-Cola Life provided a healthier option for consumers. However, in reality, after an initial promotional push, sales of Coca-Cola Life slowly fizzled out.

Coca-Cola is one of the most established and popular brands in the world, so how did it get it so wrong? And more importantly, how can the FMCG giant ensure it doesn’t repeat its mistakes?

Social media is a strong tool to measure consumer sentiment, but if a product fails to resonate with consumers, by that point it might already be too late. Alternatively, brands can leverage online communities at the outset of product development by crowdsourcing ideas for flavours, a technique used to good effect in the past by KitKat.

A more accurate way of gaining a true representation of how consumers feel about your product is through sampling, via which brands can reach highly targeted audiences who are receptive and willing to provide honest feedback on new products or flavours. This powerful feedback enables FMCG manufacturers to truly understand if they are hitting the right spot.

Case study: Mr Kipling

Earlier this year, popular cake brand Mr Kipling partnered with sampling expert The Work Perk to undertake a national sampling campaign for its new cranberry, orange and oat slices. Specifically targeting a female audience, the campaign distributed more than 100,000 free samples of the cranberry, orange and oat slices directly to the desks of consumers within this demographic. Along with their samples, recipients were offered a questionnaire to provide their honest feedback on the product. Over 17,000 consumers gave their feedback on the cake slices, with 73% stating they thought this was a new and different product from Mr Kipling compared to its more traditional treats. In addition, 43% of recipients indicated that they would buy the product in future and 37% stated they would do so instead of an alternative cake product. This not only confirmed to Mr Kipling that its product resonated positively with a large cross section of consumers, it also provided the brand with valuable insight on how the cake slice should be positioned in the market.

It doesn’t matter how well-known a brand is, it can still be at risk of launching products that don’t resonate with consumers. Food and drink brands need to be sure that new products or flavours they are launching are going to be well received, especially in today’s society where trends are constantly changing what consumers demand. Looking at the Mr Kipling campaign, it is clear to see that sampling, if executed well, can be vital in supporting the launch of new products or flavours that consumers desire.

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