1. Market situation
In 2019, Côte d'Or was still the strongest chocolate brand on the Belgian market, but there were some worrying signs that this position should not be taken for granted.
In June 2019, private labels were leading the market in volumes with 32,2% of the share of total chocolate in Belgium (Côte d'Or was 10pp behind them), meaning that Belgians were attracted by cheaper products. But Côte d'Or was still leading in share of value with 27,1% compared to 20,8% for private labels.
First worrying sign, the penetration of the private labels was rising to an impressive 82,9% in June 2019, while Côte d'Or was at 64,9%. Adding to that, Côte d'Or penetration within the younger target group was even lower, at 55,5%.
Next to this, Côte d'Or's emotional connection with consumers was eroding, with the decline of two important brand KPI's: between 2018 and 2019, Côte d'Or had lost 12% in distinctiveness and 8% in meaningfulness.
In fact, Côte d'Or was squeezed between two evolutions of the market: on the one hand, more and more private labels were copying iconic products of Côte d'Or (like Mignonettes or "l'Original" milk tablets). On the other hand, aggressive competitors were entering the category with distinctive, category-changing codes (like Tony's Chocolonely, with playful packaging and purposeful mission).
In order to reinforce the position of Côte d'Or on its market, we had defined 3 types of objectives: behavioral, commercial and attitude.
Behavioral: increase in penetration
We wanted to grow by attracting more consumers to the brand from our main competitors: private labels.
- To increase total penetration by 1pp. A challenging target, seen the already very high levels of penetration achieved by Côte d'Or.
- To increase in penetration amongst Millennials (under 34 years old) by 2pp. It was the most challenging target audience for the brand.
Commercial: gain in market share in value
Next to penetration, the objective was also to increase market share in value by 1pp. While our biggest competitors, private labels, are aiming for volumes, we didn't want to discount our products. So, the objective was to focus on the value and attract consumers looking for qualitative chocolate.
Attitude: reinforce the brand and its connection with Belgians
First of all, we wanted to increase distinctiveness by 5%. We needed to show Belgians that our brand was distinctive enough from the private labels offering similar-looking products for a lower price, by Re-claiming the uniqueness of Côte d'Or. Then, we also wanted to increase in meaningfulness by 2,5%. It was time to remind Belgians the meaningful role that Côte d'Or plays in their lives and to create real relevancy for our consumers.
In 2018, Côte d'Or conducted a study about Belgians' relationship with chocolate. This research confirmed our national reputation: for most of us, chocolate is part of our daily life. It revealed that we all have our own special chocolate rituals and habits. And that chocolate is part of real moments and emotions that connect us.
Côte d'Or, a brand anchored in our lives since 1883, was the only chocolate credible enough to talk about this unique relationship. For many generations already, it is the brand that is most often chosen by Belgians to be part of those real moments. It is part of our individual and collective memory. And a large majority (71% of Belgians) recognize blindly the distinctive taste of Côte d'Or chocolate.
It all led us to the strategic idea: Côte d'Or, taste of the nation. Reclaiming this special relationship that Côte D'or has with Belgians for many years, and the role that Côte d'Or has in Belgians lives: connecting people to each other.
It implied to make some bold shifts in the brand's communication:
- From product focus communication to people centric communication
- From exotic product origins (and the iconic elephant) to real moments and authentic emotions
- From a brand born in Belgium to a brand anchored in Belgian life & culture
- From a brand that talks to consumers, to a brand that consumers talk with
- From one-way communication to real engagement, proven by actions
This new strategy concretized itself in many changes that we made in Côte d'Or communication:
- A new communication platform, encapsulated in a new baseline:
Côte d'Or. Echt iets van ons.
- A new campaign. First we (re)claimed the Côte d'Or Belgian legacy with a Manifesto. Then, we launched a new campaign with 6 new 15'' TV commercials, emphasizing the connecting effect of real chocolate rituals of different people. We also designed this campaign for digital touchpoint, using personalization at scale to reach specific targets, such as the millennials.
- Next to this storytelling, we developed storydoing. With 'Les métiers en Or', we supported critical professions, like postmen and fire fighters, that were in the front line during the first wave of Covid but whose efforts were less recognoised. With 'The Golden Neighborhoods', we invited people to share their appreciation for their neighbors and communitieson social media… and our truck brought the nominated neighbors personalized tablets of Côte d'Or.
- A new social media approach. We shifted from reactive to pro-active community management. Opening conversations and interactions with consumers. Inspiring people with recipes. Celebrating important moments of Belgian life and culture. And we introduced small acts of kindness by surprising consumers with personal messages and chocolate deliveries. Next to that, Côte d'Or drove authentic content thanks to the brand ambassadors' program.
- Overall penetration increased by 1,1pp (10% above the objective) from June 2019 to June 2020. Côte d'Or attracted Belgians who were formerly choosing other brands, mainly private labels which lost 1,3pp.
- Penetration amongst Millennials increased by 2,2pp (also 10% above the objective). Social media results confirmed this trend with an organic followers' growth of x5 in 9 months, and with the engagement rate doubled.
- Brand distinctiveness was boosted by +11% between 2019 and 2020, more than doubling the initial objective of a +5% increase.
- Brand meaningfulness increased by +4%, 60% above the objective of +2.5%, reinforcing Côte d'Or as the most meaningful brand on the market.
- Growth in volumes and outstanding share of market in value: 28,9% at the end of 2020, which means 1,75pp increase since June 2019 (objective on the share of value surpassed by 75%). Observed average pricing for Côte d'Or stayed stable and had no impact on our results.
- Based on Marketing Mix Modelling by Nielsen, the 2019 ROI on Côte d'Or was 1,42, which was one of the highest ROI factors for a Mondelez brand across Europe.