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A nation of chocoholics – why Brits can’t live without Cadbury

Jan Worsley, associate director, SPA Future Thinking, explores the British love for particular brands, including US-owned Cadbury, Kellogg’s and Heinz, and presents the twenty brands the UK population just can’t live without.

When iconic UK chocolate brand Cadbury was bought by US’ Kraft – for a whacking £11.7 billion - the British public was outraged. Apparently, it was ‘bad for Britain’, and ‘not Britain’s finest hour’. However, fast forward two years, and it seems that the UK still has a soft spot for the maker of Dairy Milk, despite the complications of its American owner.

Cadbury claims top spot as the brand the nation can’t live without, according to findings from market research agency SPA Future Thinking. Almost one in three (30%) of us can’t live without our Cadbury’s fix.

The nationalistic fervour that accompanied Kraft’s purchase of Cadbury doesn’t seem to have bled through the rest of the nation’s choice of ‘needed’ brands. In fact, with the additional exception of Swiss company Nestlé’s Nescafe coffee brand, seven of the top ten brands in our chart are owned by American companies – Cadbury, Kellogg’s, Heinz, Coca Cola, Walkers, Birds Eye and Galaxy (owned by Mars).

Even Walkers – Gary Lineker’s choice of crisp – is now owned by PepsiCo. Leading the way for the UK is bread maker Warburtons and Dairy Crest’s Cathedral City cheese, both in 8th place with 17%.

Clearly, consumers aren’t affected by national heritage when it comes to loyalty. What exactly is it about these brands that inspire such an emotional response from the UK public? Well, many of these brands do actually have a strong feeling of ‘Britishness’. Cadbury’s roots still lie in the UK, and it has a rich history here – and even its own UK theme park in Cadbury World – which could be why people feel more affinity to the brand.

Just as clear is the impact marketing makes to the nation’s affiliations: the top ten brands the UK couldn’t live without are unsurprisingly those from owners with hefty marketing budgets – for example, Kraft’s marketing spend in 2010 was a huge $1.1 billion.

But it’s not all about the money, as brands such as Warburtons, the UK’s most popular bread, prove. It holds its own against the big boys with its number eight entry, despite its comparatively small spend (the company launched a £10m ‘heavyweight’ integrated campaign in 2010).

Ultimately, issues of ownership and nationalism don’t make a difference to consumers. To say you ‘can’t live without’ a brand is a very strong sentiment – and these brands have managed to come up with a winning formula to inspire an immense level of loyalty that give them a unique place in the emotions of a discerning and brand-savvy UK public.

The 20 brands people in the UK can’t live without:

• Cadbury - 30%

• Kellogg’s – 29%

• Heinz – 29%

• Coca Cola - 24%

• Walkers – 24%

• Birds Eye - 20%

• Nescafe – 19%

• Warburtons - 17%

• Galaxy - 17%

• Cathedral City - 17%

• Weetabix – 16%

• Tetley - 15%

• Oxo – 15%

• PG Tips – 14%

• Hovis – 14%

• Bisto - 14%

• Muller – 13%

• Mcvities – 13%

• Marmite – 13%

• Ben & Jerry’s - 13%

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