Fighting for the colours


At the stroke of midnight on December 31st, the year on the calendar changed to 2004. It was a new year. With it, M&M thought of changing its products too. For a short period of time. All the colourful M&M candies lost all of their colour: red, blue, green, yellow, orange and brown. M&M introduced black & white candies on all the store shelves. M&M’s spokesman Jeffrey Moran said “Madonna is constantly reinventing herself. So we look at it as a way of re- energizing our brand.”

Then the bomb fell.

Unfortunately the chocolate lovers hated the reinvention. Many were outraged. Some vowed never to eat M&M’s again. When asked why he stopped eating M&Ms, one person replied, “It’s the colour that make it. I fight for the colours.”  M&M didn’t know what made their happy clients buy and eat M&Ms again and again. It was the colour. And they changed it. Which led to a decrease in the number of sales. No one was buying the candies. The store shelves were stocked with it. It was a total disaster.

Thankfully, some one at the top asked: how could they salvage the situation? That question led to a contest.

M&M planted 6 packages of colour candies in the stores. And then announced a contest: “find a colour pack and win a car.” The

M&M’s learnt an expensive lesson: what makes people buy their products. After the disastrous start to the year, they made amendments and rolled out with 5 advertisements, each emphasizing the colour.contest worked extremely well in attracting people to buy the candies to win a car. The director of marketing at M&Ms, Doug Milne was quoted as saying: “the contest led consumers buy and collect Black & White candies in huge numbers!”

Action summary:

°    Find out what makes consumers buy your products. Ask them. Observe them.

°    Emphasize the core value that makes people buy your products. Maybe it’s the quality. Or the price. Or the colour. Or the size.

°    Test your new product before rolling out in huge numbers. If M&Ms had tested the black & white candies and sold it in only one city, they would have avoided the disaster.

°    Contests are a good way to increase sales. Having a contest once in a while can be profitable.