Cadbury – Just-Noticeable Difference Marketing

Cadbury is a confectionery brand originating from Birmingham in the United Kingdom.  The firm has been owned by Mondelez International since 2012, after acquiring the brand from Kraft Foods.  Cadbury is most famous for its Dairy Milk Chocolate and its use of purple packaging that has become part of the brand’s identity.  However, did you know that there have been 23 packaging redesigns?  The 23rd wrapper revamp has just been unveiled below:

And for reference, lets take a look at the 22nd (previous) design, introduced in 2008:

Can you spot the difference?

The key changes are:

According to Cadbury‘s Marketing Director, Matthew Williams, the new designs will appear more eye-catching on the shelves and less traditional. The traditional designs had been conflicting with Cadbury‘s competitive positioning as ‘fun’.

While this sounds straight forward, packaging designs are highly risky.  Packaging is the fundamental way consumers identify brands and, for a low involvement product, changing the look can destroy habitual buying behavior if suddenly the product is harder to find.

So how have Cadbury been so successful at redesigns?

This can be explained by the theory of ‘Just-noticeable difference’.  As the name implies, just-noticeable difference is the degree of change in packaging – or branding – that is only just noticeable to consumers.

An easy way to think of it is as continuous improvement of packaging. As shown below, just-noticeable differences eventually add-up to big changes:

Cadbury Just Noticeable Difference

The result is that the packaging never changes too much, and therefore reduces the risk of re-brands.

However, I am not too keen on Cadbury‘s new wrappers.  I particularly do not like the lower case font, which I think is a slightly too noticeable of a change.  On the other hand, if I was not interested in marketing, would I have noticed the difference if I was an unaware consumer?

Let me know what you think about Cadbury‘s latest packaging design in the comments below.  Is it too noticeable, or has it achieved a just-noticeable difference?

© Josh Blatchford, author of Manifested Marketing 07/11/2013

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