Nestlé Rowntree’s decision to play with the venerable KitKat slogan has met with a generally dubious press response. However, Mars changed its classic “work, rest and play” slogan in 2002 and saw a 20% rise in sales the following year. So, as KitKat struggles to regain the countlines crown from Cadbury, this shift in emphasis could yet be a winner.

Since 1957, Nestlé Rowntree’s KitKat brand has used the slogan “Have a break, have a KitKat”. This highly successful catchphrase has helped ensure that until last year, when it lost out to Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, KitKat was the number one chocolate bar brand in the UK.

Nestlé Rowntree is currently attempting to revitalise the KitKat brand. Market research undertaken by the confectionery manufacturer showed that although the slogan is almost universally recognised, it plays almost no part in the decision process when consumers choose a chocolate bar. This is partly because the nature of breaks in the workplace has changed. Break time is no longer as structured an occasion as it was when the slogan was first introduced. The new slogan, “Make the best of your break”, no longer focuses on the break itself, but rather that it can be an enjoyable moment irrespective of its duration, taking a “less of the best” stance.

A similar marketing approach worked well for Mars in 2002. In the face of falling sales, the company abandoned the “A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play” slogan that it had been using for decades and replaced it with “A pleasure you can’t measure”. The move was greeted with a degree of scepticism from industry sources; however, over the following year, sales of Mars bars grew by 20%.

Nestlé Rowntree’s decision to target workplace snacking, while still retaining its former association with relaxation, could be a shrewd one. Workplace consumption is a regular and increasingly frequent occurrence, which presents a growing opportunity for consumer packaged goods players. The market for confectionery and snacks in the workplace is currently worth €140bn (US$168.8bn) in western Europe. Consumers do not just eat and drink at work out of simple necessity, but also because of the psychological need for stimulation and reward.

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