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Case Study On Cadbury’s Digital Marketing Strategies [Download PDF]

  • November 23, 2022


Table of Contents

Did you know that Cadbury initially sold drinking chocolate and labelled itself a healthy drink? This was way back in 1824, and well, fast forward to 2022. All we can think of when one says chocolate is Cadbury. What happened between these years (or centuries) is a testament to how Cadbury jumped on every opportunity and established its brand name worldwide.

To sell really tasty chocolate isn’t that difficult, but to sell it as Cadbury does, is something to learn from! This blog will discuss how Cadbury used the digital platform for branding and earned a name for itself amongst the competition. 

Let’s first understand more about Cadbury’s digital marketing strategies;

About Cadbury

Cadbury built its very first manufacturing unit in India in 1948. They now have a total of five manufacturing units and one cocoa operation across India. The market share of Cadbury India is around 70%, which is the highest in the world. India’s favourite chocolate, Cadbury Dairy Milk, is a benchmark for all the other chocolates. These are some of Cadbury’s products:

  • Celebrations

Beverages: Cadbury Bournvita

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Cadbury Bournvita (@cadburybournvita)

Oreo Biscuits

Cadbury dairy milk mousse

You can play with Oreo Biscuits also, just like her 😉

Since 1965, Cadbury has been leading the cocoa cultivation development. This is with regard to their collaboration with the Kerela Agricultural University and their constant training sessions with cocoa farmers on its cultivation.

Why Should Marketers Study Cadbury’s Digital Marketing Strategies?

Marketers must study Cadbury’s digital marketing strategies because they can get inspired by them and try to implement some of those strategies for their brands. Here are four of the many things marketers can learn from Cadbury: 

1. Use Brand Name to Increase Visibility.

The Cadbury logo is always displayed on all its products, ensuring customers know who made their favourite chocolate bars.

When was the last time you heard “Nestlé Kit Kat” mentioned?

Did you hear about Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk before?

Almost certainly never. When compared to the way Cadbury chocolate is marketed, “Cadbury’s Crème Egg,” “Cadbury’s Roses,” and, of course, “Cadbury’s Dairy Milk” seems a lot more natural because that is how we are familiar with them. In this way, Cadbury’s chocolate is instantly recognisable. You can use your brand name, too, to make your product more identifiable.

2. Consistency

Just in the UK, Cadbury sells over 276 goods, including bars, bags, ice creams, desserts, biscuits, travel exclusives, spreads, beverages, food products, and seasonal products for Christmas, Easter, and Halloween.

Cadbury Christmas chocolates collection

Despite having such varied products, Cadbury develops products that are consistent with their brand – nothing seems out of place or as if it were made by someone else. As a result, when consumers desire a Cadbury product, they know what to look for and what to expect when they get it.

3. A Style Guide

Every page should be consistent, according to a basic rule of web design. Suppose certain pages on your website have a completely different layout, typeface, or colour scheme than others. In that case, the consumer may become confused and believe they’ve left your site and landed on another.

Cadbury logo

To promote exposure and familiarity, a great brand requires consistency. This implies that your name, logo, colours, tone of voice in your writing, and other branding elements should be consistent across your website, social media pages, email newsletters, and physical marketing materials. If you’re launching a new product, pay attention to how you show it online and advertise it to your target audience.

4. Adapting to Changes

Cadbury continues to update its product offering to keep up with the newest consumer trends and adapt to its changing market, as evidenced by its extensive product range. With 538 abandoned goods, the firm knows when to retire a product that isn’t profitable enough and when to attempt something new.

Cadbury, for example, will produce Dairy Milk chocolate with 30% less sugar next year, maybe because people are more concerned about living a better lifestyle than ever. But, through it all, it knows how to maintain its brand despite product and market changes.

The same rationale can be applied to your marketing strategies. Whether it’s a new social networking platform or Google making adjustments to AdWords (or as it’s now known, Google Ads), the internet marketing landscape is continuously shifting. The most important thing for marketers to do is to assess these developments and efficiently adjust to them without losing sight of their brand.

Determine whether you should attempt a new social media platform, establish a new ad campaign, or send out a series of mailshots. But remember what your brand is, how you want to be perceived, your objective, and who you’re aiming for when you do.

Cadbury’s Digital Marketing Strategies 

1. cadbury’s social media marketing strategies & case study.

Cadbury entered the social media realm with the intent to revolutionize its marketing strategies and step back from Television and other traditional forms of advertising. Here is how they are currently performing on different social media platforms: 

Cadbury’s Instagram Marketing Strategies

Cadbury has different Instagram accounts for each of its products. This allows them to keep their marketing more focused on that particular product and adhere to the audience consuming it. Each account has different content, colour themes, and overall presentation.

Here is the follower count of Cadbury’s most famous products (as of November 2022):

Each of these brands post content that is specialized to their own product. BournVita recently ran a campaign with the saying “Maa Kabhi retired nahi hoti” on their Instagram page. This goes well with their brand language since BournVita’s TV ad focuses on the relationship between a child and their mother. Hence, even across different platforms, their brand image stays the same.

Maa kabhi retired nahi hoti- Cadburys Instagram marketing strategies

On the other hand, Dairy Milk’s Instagram page is filled with posts related to IPL since they sponsor the ground staff in IPL. 

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Cadbury Dairy Milk (@cadburydairymilkin)

Cadbury’s Instagram Analytics

Cadbury Dairy Milk is very active on Instagram space. The Instagram handle was created in 2016, and they are getting quite a good traction on the handle, as they use it to post updates, collaborations, and upcoming products there and interact with their audience. To date, they have around 254k followers and still growing.

Instagram analytical history for Cadbury dairy milk

Cadbury’s Facebook Marketing Strategies 

Cadbury also uses Facebook to publish similar content as Instagram for their Facebook audience. They have a much larger follower on each account on Facebook. 

Cadbury used Facebook to follow up on the 30-second television advertisement they published using the saas-bahu duo. This campaign was to brand their product, “Dairy Milk”, to build friendships and other relationships. They aimed to catch the sentiments of the otherwise negative duo, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, and show them in a more loving and positive light. This proved to be successful because Cadbury could connect with their audience and make them emotional. 

According to a study by Medium , these were the following trends they experienced after their campaign on Facebook:

  • There was a 5.8% increase in top-of-mind awareness.
  • Facebook is alone responsible for a 5.1% boost in brand consideration.
  • 5.7% increase in TV reach
  • Increase of 8.1% in the number of people who watch light television.
  • Increase of 2.8% in spontaneous awareness
  • Tenfold increase in Facebook ad spend

Cadbury’s YouTube Marketing Strategies:

Unlike Instagram and Facebook, where Cadbury has different profiles for different products, Cadbury has only one channel on YouTube, with different sections for “Seasonal,” “Flavours,” and “Marvellous creations.” Cadbury has over 548K YouTube subscribers. They also use “YouTube Shorts,” YouTube’s most recent feature, to post short videos within 30 seconds. 

Cadbury Youtube shorts marketing strategies

Cadbury’s Youtube Engagement Rate

Cadbury’s YouTube engagement rate is 0.67%. They receive an average of 262 likes per post .

Cadbury's Youtube engagement rate

Cadbury’s Twitter Marketing Strategies

Cadbury also has separate accounts for its different products on Twitter. 

Cadbury Dairy Milk’s Twitter account is currently occupied by content about the ongoing IPL 2022. Similar to its Facebook and Instagram accounts, Cadbury Dairy Milk’s Twitter is occupied by content about its sponsorship of the ground staff. Cadbury has a strong social media presence, particularly on Twitter. Customers are kept engaged on Twitter by posting on a regular basis. Although there is much-repeated information across platforms and pages, this is understandable because it broadens the audience’s reach.

Cadbury’s key strength is its ability to engage its followers on social media since they are quite good at responding to customer comments and inquiries. This good aspect of the organisation aids in developing a welcoming and accepting brand image.

2. Cadbury’s SEO Strategies

Cadbury India has a gifting website where people can customise their chocolates for gifting purposes and place an order for the same. According to SEMRush, here’s an overview of how their domain is performing:

Cadbury's website SEO Campaign - Domain authority and backlinks

Cadbury’s organic keywords include

  • Cadbury India
  • Lumba rakhi
  • Cadbury celebrations
  • Cadbury happy birthday, and
  • Dairy milk silk,

Cadbury's top organic keywords

However, Cadbury does not have a website with the same name as its domain. Mondelez International, its parent firm, only has a section dedicated to it. The website must also be optimised in order to appear first on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

Popular companies like Dairy Milk and Oreo do not have their own websites. A distinct website for the brand allows individuals to learn more about the products while also increasing transparency between the company and its customers.

Case study of Cadbury’s Top Digital Marketing Campaigns: 

1. 5 stars everywhere – a cadbury 5 star campaign.

The smart move of Cadbury definitely makes a mark on history & its audience’s hearts and minds. That’s the plan, right? Every time you rate anything you remember, Cadbury is there.

“When you #DoNothing and the entire world does your work for you. #5StarsEverywhere #Cadbury5Star ,” that’s the campaign.

2. Stay Home Stay Safe: At Home with Oreo – A Cadbury Oreo Campaign

Oreo, a Cadbury cookie brand, has produced a clever commercial corresponding to the pandemic situation: staying at home. Oreo debuted the #AtHomewithOreo campaign, which is aimed at youngsters. In these uncertain times, the campaign urges children to be playful. “Make Way For Play ” is the campaign’s slogan. Isn’t it an excellent use of the current situation?

3. How Far Will You Go For Love? – A Dairy Milk Campaign

Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk is marketed primarily to millennials. On the other hand, Dairy Milk Silk has proven to be a favourite among youngsters, and launching this promotion for Valentine’s Day was a fantastic decision!

The campaign’s theme was simple: “How far will you go for love on Valentine’s Day?” with the hashtag #PopYourHeartOut. Kartik Aryan, a well-known actor and youth hero, was also enlisted to help promote the ad.

4. Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye – A Dairy Milk Campaign

People in India highly value rituals and traditions, especially when embarking on a new endeavour on an auspicious occasion. Cadbury Dairy Milk launched the “Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye” campaign, in which Cadbury India positioned Dairy Milk as a treat that could be enjoyed during joyous occasions in our lives.

Cadbury India demonstrated individuals of all ages sharing big and small life experiences, interacting with others, and making great occasions even more memorable with Cadbury Dairy Milk. The campaign is still remembered fondly, and Amitabh Bachchan, the great Indian actor, previously endorsed it.

As you can see, Cadbury has seeped into the digital world to showcase its products and spread the word about its brand. You can enrol in the best online digital marketing course if you wish to build amazing digital marketing approaches for your company. This course is for students who want to learn everything there is to know about digital marketing and how to use it to grow their businesses.

Are you prepared to take your company’s image to new heights? Now is the best time to take our free digital marketing course !

Which was your favourite campaign by Cadbury? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Written By Digital Scholar

Digital Scholar is a premier agency-styled digital marketing institute in India. Which offers an online digital marketing course and a free digital marketing course worldwide to elevate their digital skills and become industry experts. Digital Scholar is headed by Sorav Jain and co-founder Rishi Jain, who are pioneers in the field of digital marketing. Digital Scholar’s blogs touch upon numerous aspects of digital marketing and help you get intensive ideas of different domains of digital marketing.

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Cadbury Crisis Management Case Study: Preserving Trust in Times of Crisis

In the realm of beloved chocolate brands, Cadbury has long held a cherished place in the hearts and taste buds of consumers worldwide.

However, even the most esteemed companies are not immune to crises that can pose significant threats to their reputation.

Effective crisis management becomes paramount in such moments, serving as the linchpin in preserving brand equity and consumer trust.

In this blog post, we delve into the realm of Cadbury’s crisis management, exploring a notable incident that tested the brand’s resilience and examining the strategies they employed to navigate the storm.

By understanding Cadbury’s response and the lessons gleaned from their experience, we can gain valuable insights into crisis management in the food industry and the critical importance of safeguarding brand reputation.

The Cadbury crisis: an overview 

In October 2003, just a month before the festive season of Diwali, customers in Mumbai reported the discovery of worms in Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolates. Responding promptly, the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took action by seizing chocolate stocks produced at Cadbury’s Pune plant.

Cadbury defended itself by stating that the infestation could not have occurred during the manufacturing process and suggested that poor storage at retailers might have been the cause of the reported worm cases.

However, the FDA remained unconvinced. Uttam Khobragade, the FDA commissioner, expressed doubts, stating, “While it was presumed that worms entered the chocolates during storage, what about the packaging? If the packaging was not proper or airtight, it could be considered a manufacturing defect due to unhygienic conditions or improper packaging.”

This exchange of allegations and counter-allegations between Cadbury and the FDA led to negative publicity that significantly impacted Cadbury’s sales. During a time when Cadbury typically experiences a 15% sales boost due to festive season demand, their sales dropped by 30%. As a result, Cadbury’s advertising went off air for a month and a half following Diwali, as consumers seemed to lose interest in their chocolate cravings.

Facing intense scrutiny, Cadbury took action by launching an education initiative called “Vishwa’s” in October itself. This initiative aimed to educate 190,000 retailers in key states. However, it was what Cadbury did in January 2004 that truly helped restore the brand’s reputation.

Investing around Rs 15 crore (Rs 150 million), Cadbury revamped the packaging of Dairy Milk by introducing imported machinery. The new metallic poly-flow packaging, despite being costlier by 10-15%, did not lead to a price increase for the product.

Bharat Puri, managing director of Cadbury’s India, stated, “Although we are addressing a few bars out of the 30 million we sell every month, we believe that as a responsible company, consumers should have complete faith in our products. So, even if it requires significant investment and change, we must not let consumer confidence erode.”

Simultaneously, Cadbury enlisted the support of brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan for extensive endorsement, with the actor risking his personal reputation for the brand.

Cadbury also increased advertising spending for the January to March quarter by more than 15%. The brand’s recovery began in May 2004, and by June, Cadbury claimed that consumer confidence had been restored. Experts believe that Cadbury’s success was due to their proactive and direct approach in addressing the crisis. Moreover, consumers were more forgiving because of the emotional connection they had with the brand in India.

Explanation of the potential impact on Cadbury’s reputation and consumer trust

The potential impact of the crisis on Cadbury’s reputation and consumer trust cannot be overstated. Cadbury had spent years cultivating a strong brand image built on trust, quality, and indulgence.

Consumers who had long associated Cadbury with delightful moments and safe indulgence were suddenly confronted with doubts and concerns about the integrity of the brand.

The presence of foreign objects in their beloved chocolate bars not only raised immediate health and safety worries but also shook the trust that consumers had placed in Cadbury’s manufacturing processes.

The crisis threatened to erode the emotional connection between Cadbury and its customers, potentially leading to long-lasting damage to the brand’s reputation and a loss of consumer loyalty. The way Cadbury handled the crisis would be critical in determining whether they could restore faith in their products and reassure customers that their commitment to quality and safety remained unwavering.

Cadbury’s Response: Swift and Transparent Action 

Here are three points that explain the response of Cadbury to the crisis:

A. Immediate actions taken by Cadbury to address the crisis

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, Cadbury swiftly sprang into action to address the crisis and mitigate its impact on consumer trust. Their response was marked by a combination of transparency, accountability, and proactive measures. First and foremost, Cadbury initiated an immediate recall of the affected products from the market, demonstrating their commitment to ensuring consumer safety.

This recall was accompanied by clear and concise public announcements, both through traditional media channels and online platforms, informing consumers about the issue and advising them to refrain from consuming the affected products.

Cadbury launched an internal investigation in collaboration with independent third-party experts. This step aimed to determine how the foreign objects had made their way into the production process and identify any potential lapses in quality control.

In addition to the recall and investigation, Cadbury established a dedicated consumer helpline and email contact to address any concerns or inquiries from customers. This direct line of communication allowed affected individuals to seek information and assistance, demonstrating Cadbury’s commitment to maintaining open dialogue with their consumer base.

Moreover, Cadbury proactively engaged with regulatory bodies, such as food safety authorities and government agencies, to ensure compliance with relevant regulations and collaborate on resolving the crisis. This collaboration helped in conducting thorough investigations, sharing information, and implementing corrective measures.

Throughout their response, Cadbury remained transparent, providing regular updates to the public and stakeholders on the progress made in resolving the crisis. By openly acknowledging the issue and taking swift action, Cadbury aimed to rebuild consumer trust and demonstrate their commitment to the highest standards of product safety and quality.

B. Emphasis on transparency, open communication, and acknowledgement of the issue

Cadbury recognized the critical role of transparency, open communication, and sincere acknowledgement in their crisis management strategy. Understanding that silence or evasion could further erode consumer trust, they chose a different path.

From the onset, Cadbury openly acknowledged the issue, taking full responsibility for the presence of foreign objects in their products. They did not attempt to downplay or minimize the severity of the situation, but rather acknowledged the potential risks and concerns that consumers may have.

To ensure transparent communication, Cadbury provided regular updates to the public and stakeholders about the progress of their investigations, steps taken to address the issue, and any findings or developments. This transparency helped to build confidence among consumers that Cadbury was actively working to rectify the situation and prevent similar incidents in the future.

Moreover, Cadbury prioritized open communication channels with their consumers. They promptly established a dedicated helpline and email contact to address individual inquiries and concerns. By providing accessible means for consumers to voice their questions or fears, Cadbury demonstrated a commitment to engaging in two-way communication and actively listening to their customers.

Engagement with customers, media, and regulatory bodies

Cadbury demonstrated proactive engagement with various stakeholders throughout the crisis, including customers, media, and regulatory bodies. Here are some examples of their efforts:

  • Customers: Cadbury promptly set up a dedicated helpline and email contact to address customer inquiries, concerns, and feedback. This direct line of communication allowed affected individuals to seek information, share their experiences, and receive assistance from Cadbury’s customer service team.
  • Media: Cadbury issued press releases and media statements to communicate their response to the crisis, including the immediate recall, investigation, and measures being implemented to ensure product safety. These official statements aimed to provide accurate information and address media inquiries promptly.
  • Regulatory bodies: Cadbury collaborated closely with relevant food safety authorities and regulatory bodies to ensure compliance with regulations and to share information regarding the crisis. This collaboration helped in conducting thorough investigations and implementing appropriate corrective actions.

Evaluation of Cadbury’s crisis management approach and its effectiveness

Cadbury’s crisis management approach can be evaluated as highly effective based on several key factors:

  • Swift and proactive response: Cadbury’s immediate actions, including the recall of affected products and launching an internal investigation, demonstrated a sense of urgency and a commitment to addressing the crisis promptly. This swift response helped contain the situation and prevent further harm to consumers.
  • Transparency and open communication: Cadbury’s emphasis on transparency and open communication was commendable. They openly acknowledged the issue, took responsibility, and provided regular updates to the public, customers, media, and regulatory bodies. This transparency fostered trust and allowed stakeholders to stay informed throughout the crisis.
  • Stakeholder engagement: Cadbury actively engaged with stakeholders such as customers, media, and regulatory bodies. They established a dedicated helpline and email contact for customers, responded to media inquiries, and collaborated with regulatory authorities. This proactive engagement demonstrated a commitment to listening, addressing concerns, and working collaboratively to resolve the crisis.
  • Accountability and commitment to quality: By taking responsibility for the contamination incident, Cadbury showed accountability for the lapse in their manufacturing processes. They acknowledged the potential harm caused to consumers and reassured them of their commitment to maintaining the highest standards of quality and safety.
  • Learning and improvement: Cadbury’s crisis management approach also involved conducting internal investigations, collaborating with third-party experts, and implementing corrective measures. This commitment to learning from the incident and making necessary improvements indicated a proactive approach to preventing future occurrences and continuously enhancing product safety.

Identification of key lessons and best practices for crisis management in the food industry

Identification of key lessons and best practices for crisis management in the food industry:

  • Prioritize consumer safety: The primary focus during a crisis in the food industry should be on ensuring consumer safety. Swift actions, such as recalls and investigations, must be taken to address any potential risks and protect consumers from harm.
  • Transparency and open communication: Transparency is crucial in maintaining trust during a crisis. Companies should openly acknowledge the issue, provide timely and accurate information to stakeholders, and communicate updates regularly. This includes engaging with customers, media, and regulatory bodies to address concerns and share progress.
  • Swift response and proactive measures: Time is of the essence in crisis management. Acting swiftly to contain the issue, launching investigations, and implementing corrective actions demonstrate a commitment to resolving the crisis effectively and minimizing its impact.
  • Establish a dedicated crisis management team: Having a designated crisis management team with clear roles and responsibilities is essential. This team should be equipped to handle crisis situations, make quick decisions, and coordinate communication across various channels.
  • Collaborate with stakeholders: Engage with relevant stakeholders, including customers, media, and regulatory bodies. Collaborating with regulatory authorities ensures compliance and regulatory support, while open communication with customers and media helps address concerns, provide accurate information, and rebuild trust.
  • Learn from the crisis: Conduct thorough investigations to identify the root cause of the crisis. This allows for improvements in manufacturing processes, quality control measures, and overall safety protocols to prevent similar incidents in the future. Continuously learning and adapting based on the crisis experience is vital.
  • Preparedness through crisis simulations: Conducting crisis simulations and drills in advance can help organizations prepare for potential crises. These simulations allow teams to practice their response strategies, identify gaps, and refine their crisis management plans.
  • Monitor and respond to social media : Social media plays a significant role in crisis communication. Monitor social media platforms to gauge public sentiment, address customer concerns, and promptly respond to queries or complaints.
  • Maintain brand consistency: During a crisis, it is essential to maintain consistency in messaging and actions across all communication channels. This consistency helps in building trust and avoiding confusion among stakeholders.
  • Rebuild trust through actions: Regaining consumer trust takes time. Implement measures to enhance product safety, quality control, and quality assurance processes. Launch consumer-centric initiatives and communicate these actions to demonstrate the brand’s commitment to customer satisfaction and safety.

Final Words 

Cadbury’s crisis management approach serves as an excellent example of effective strategies and best practices in the food industry. By swiftly addressing the crisis, prioritizing consumer safety, and embracing transparency, Cadbury demonstrated their commitment to their customers and their brand integrity.

The lessons learned from Cadbury’s crisis management are applicable to any organization in the food industry. Prioritizing consumer safety should always be the guiding principle, followed by open communication with stakeholders and a proactive approach to resolving the issue.

Remember, a crisis can be an opportunity to showcase a company’s resilience and commitment to its customers. By implementing these best practices and being prepared, organizations can navigate crises with greater confidence, protect their brand reputation, and rebuild trust even in the face of adversity.

About The Author

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Tahir Abbas

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Cadbury Dairy Milk in India Case Study

Summary of the case, porters five forces, international product strategies, brand positioning, appropriate business model, list of references.

The article ‘Cadbury Dairy Milk in India: Repositioning Brand to Sustain Leadership’, Chakraborty (2011, p. 1) focuses on the repositioning strategies that Cadbury Dairy Milk has used in the Indian market to sustain its leadership position.

When this firm entered the Indian market in 1947, chocolate was seen as a product bought through impulse. This means that, when shopping, one would end up buying chocolate even if it was not part of the plan. At this moment, the advertisements of Cadbury India Limited tried to justify the impulsive purchase of its products.

However, the changes in the market forces and increased level of education among Indians forced this firm to reposition its products. The management realised that many Indians were trying to cut impulsive buying due to tougher economic times. Positioning Cadbury products as impulse products was no longer viable.

The firm therefore, focused on its main target market which is the children. It positioned its products as the real source of joy for children. This worked well for the firm, but a market research revealed that this strategy was cutting out another potential market segment of the adults. The adults were forced to eat chocolates in secrete because it was positioned as a product for the children.

This forced the firm to reposition the product in the market to capture adults as well. The management tried to position it as a snack that was good for both children and adults. However, it realised that this would subject the products to a massive competition, especially from the home made snacks that were common in this market.

For this reason, the firm decided to target the children and adults differently in order to sustain its market leadership in the confectionary market. The Shubh Aarambh campaign was seen as a strategy that specifically meant to target the adults. These strategies used by Cadbury India Limited have helped the firm remain as the leading confectionary brand in India.

Cadbury India Limited was forced to re-evaluate its marketing positioning because of the changing market forces. In order to understand the forces that were driving the change strategies for this firm, Porters Five Forces will be useful at this stage.

Figure 1: Porters Five Forces

 Porters Five Forces

Source (Wernerfelt 2006, p. 241)

The threat of new market entrants was one of the major forces that this firm had to deal with in the market. It was important to protect its products from the threats posed by the new entrants. The bargaining power of the buyers was another issue given the increasing levels of literacy among the Indians.

The firm realised that it had to justify its process to the buyers because they had been empowered not only due to their increased level of education, but also because of the increased options they had in the market. The firm also had to deal with the bargaining power of the suppliers.

The suppliers’ power increased with the increase in the number of confectionary firms. This firm had to find a way of developing a strategic alliance with the suppliers to protect its sources of raw materials. The threat posed by numerous substitutes such as sweets threatened the market position for this firm. This meant that the firm had to redefine its marketing strategies to fight off these substitutes.

Finally, the firm had to deal with the increasing rivalry among the existing companies. New firms were getting into this industry and this intensified the level of competition. Cadbury India Limited was forced to come up with superior strategies of reaching out to its customers and protecting its market share from the competitors.

According to Wernerfelt (2006, p. 244), one of the biggest challenges that firms face in their internalisation strategies is the approach to take in their international product strategies. In many cases, a firm will either decide to use adoption or standardisation approach.

It is important to note that the approach taken will affect all the departments within the firm either directly or indirectly. The strategy will largely depend on the orientation of a firm towards the foreign culture. This orientation may take ethnocentric, geocentric, or polycentric models. When using a standardisation strategy, product, pricing, place, and promotion take a uniform approach irrespective of the local market forces (Chaffey & Chadwick 2012, p. 84).

On the other hand, the adaption strategy emphasises on aligning these marketing mix factors to the local forces. This company has embraced adaption over standardisation strategy in its Indian markets as presented in the case study. The firm has been keen on aligning its marketing mix strategies with the local forces as much as possible. Factors such as culture, political forces, religious beliefs, economic forces, and the local emerging trends have been the main defining factors when developing the marketing strategies at this firm.

According to Egan (2013, p 56), “Brand positioning refers to target consumer’s reason to buy your brand in preference to others.” It is an attempt to position a given brand in a way that will be appealing to the targeted consumers in the market. Brand positioning enables a firm to convince the consumers that a given product offers a superior value as opposed to those of the existing competitors.

In order to position a brand effectively, a firm needs to understand the needs and values of its targeted consumers. This will enable a firm to come up with a message that will be based on their values and needs in the market. This is what Cadbury India Limited has been doing in the Indian market.

At first, the firm strongly believed that children were its target market hence the brand was positioned to target them. However, recent changes seen at this firm show that the firm has broadened its target market to include adults. Its positioning strategies in the market clearly demonstrate this fact.

In order to sustain growth in the market, a firm will need an appropriate business model. The Ansoff Matrix proposes a number of strategies that a firm can use to sustain its growth.

Figure 2: Ansoff Matrix

Ansoff Matrix

Source (Chaffey & Chadwick 2012, p. 78)

As shown in this model, Cadbury India Limited can choose any of the four options which are available as per this matrix to sustain its growth. Market penetration emphasises on the need to expand the market share within the local market using the existing products.

Market development on the other hand focuses on looking for new markets for the existing products. Product development emphasises on creation of new products for the existing market. Diversification involves creating new products for new markets. Cadbury India Limited has majorly been using market penetration and product development in its Indian markets.

Chaffey, D & Chadwick, F 2012, Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation & Practice , Pearson Education, Harlow.

Chakraborty, I 2011, Cadbury Dairy Milk in India: Repositioning Brand to Sustain Leadership, Amity Research , vol. 511. no. 37, pp 1-11.

Egan, J 2013, Marketing communications , Sage Publications Ltd, New York.

Wernerfelt, B 2006, Efficient Marketing Communication: Helping the Customer Learn, Journal of Marketing Research , vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 239-246.

  • Chicago (A-D)
  • Chicago (N-B)

IvyPanda. (2019, December 30). Cadbury Dairy Milk in India.

"Cadbury Dairy Milk in India." IvyPanda , 30 Dec. 2019,

IvyPanda . (2019) 'Cadbury Dairy Milk in India'. 30 December.

IvyPanda . 2019. "Cadbury Dairy Milk in India." December 30, 2019.

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IvyPanda . "Cadbury Dairy Milk in India." December 30, 2019.

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Home » Management Case Studies » Case Study: Cadbury Crisis Management (Worm Controversy)

Case Study: Cadbury Crisis Management (Worm Controversy)

In India chocolate consumption was very low in the early 90’s but as the decade advanced the consumption drastically increased. The late 90’s witnessed a good chocolate market condition. The chocolate market in India is dominated by two multinational companies — Cadbury and Nestle. The national companies – Amul and Campco are other candidates in this race. Cadbury holds more than 70% of the total share of the market. Nestle has emerged by holding almost 20% of the total share. Apart from chocolate segment, there is also a big confectionery segment which is flooded by companies like Parry’s, Ravalgaon, Candico and Nutrine. All these are leading national players. The multinational companies like the Cadbury, Nestle and Perfetti are the new entrants in the sugar confectionery market. (Management paradise) There are several others which have a minor share in these two segments. According to statistics, the chocolate consumption in India is extremely low. If per capita consumption is considered, it comes to only 160gms in the urban areas. This amount is very low compared to the developed countries where the per capita consumption is more than 8-10kg. Observing this fact it would not be appropriate to consider the rural areas of India as it will be extremely low. This low consumption is owing to the notion behind consuming chocolates. Indians eat chocolates as indulgence and not as snack food. The major target population is the children. India has witnessed a slow growth rate of about 10% pa from the 70’s to the 80’s. But as the century advanced the market stagnated. This was the time when Cadbury launched its product- Dairy Milk as an anytime product rather than an occasional luxury. All the advertisements of Dairy Milk paid a full attention to adults and not children. And this proved to be the major breakthrough for Cadbury as it tried to break the conventional ideas of the Indians about chocolate.

The Worm Controversy

On October 2003, just a month before Diwali, the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner received complaints about infestation in two bars of Cadbury Dairy Milk, Cadbury India’s flagship brand with over 70% market share. He ordered an enquiry and went directly to the media with a statement. Over the following 3-week period, resultant adverse media coverage touched close to 1000 clips in print and 120 on TV news channels. In India, where Cadbury is synonymous with chocolate, the company’s reputation and credibility was under intense scrutiny. Sales volumes came down drastically in the first 10 weeks, which was the festival season; retailer stocking and display dropped, employee morale – especially that of the sales team – was shaken. The challenge was to restore confidence in the key stakeholders (consumers, trade and employees, particularly the sales team) and build back credibility for the corporate brand through the same channels (the media) that had questioned it.

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In defense, Cadbury issued a statement that the infestation was not possible at the manufacturing stage and poor storage at the retailers was the most likely cause of the reported case of worms. But the FDA didn’t buy that.  FDA commisioner, Uttam Khobragade told CNBC-TV18, “It was presumed that worms got into it at the storage level, but then what about the packing – packaging was not proper  or airtight, either ways it’s a manufacturing defect with unhygienic conditions or improper packaging.”

That was followed by allegations and counter-allegations between Cadbury and FDA. The heat of negative publicity melted Cadbury’s sales by 30 per cent, at a time when it sees a festive spike of 15 per cent.

For the first time, Cadbury’s advertising went off air for a month and a half after Diwali, following the controversy. Consumers seemed to ignore their chocolate cravings.

Remedy for the Worm Controversy

A focused and intense communications program was implemented over the next six months to rebuild credibility and restore confidence among the key stakeholders. The results:

  • In media, the key message that infestation was a storage-linked problem, not manufacturing related , found widespread acceptance. Across the board, media carried Cadbury’s point-of-view on the issue.
  • Sales volumes climbed back to almost to pre-crisis levels eight weeks after the launch of new packaging — a concrete step taken by the company to minimize the incidence of infestation. This reflected consumer confidence in the brand and the company.
  • There was significant upward movement in ratings amongst consumers on parameters like company’s image, responsiveness of company and behavioral parameters like intention to buy Cadbury chocolates.

The last two helped to restore faith in the corporate brand among the trade and employees.

Marketing Challenges and Objectives

The incident came close on the heels of a cola controversy where a scientific laboratory declared colas unsafe due to high levels of pesticide. The jury was still out on that issue and so this incident acquired political overtones with parties decrying Cadbury as an irresponsible MNC. Andrea Dawson- Shepherd, Global Corporate Communication Counsel, Cadbury Schweppes called it ‘the worst worm infestation-related crisis anywhere in the world’.

The immediate objective was to get the following key messages across:

  • Infestation could never occur at the manufacturing stage
  • The problem was storage linked; this without alienating trade channels
  • Cadbury Dairy Milk continued to be safe for consumption

The challenge was to restore confidence in the key stakeholders (trade and employees, particularly salespersons) and build back credibility for the corporate brand through the same channels (the media) that questioned it.

It was decided from the start to address the issue head-on and take whatever steps were necessary to restore confidence. Having historically maintained a low profile with the media and let its brands and its performance speak for it, the company began to cultivate relationships with the media and turn it into an ally and a credible, independent endorser to rebuild stakeholder confidence.

Phase 1: Presenting Cadbury’s View (October-December 2003)

The day the crisis broke, the agency set up a media desk to ensure that no media query went unanswered. From Day 1 every story carried Cadbury’s point of view. At the first media briefing organised by the agency, the Cadbury’s Managing Director addressed consumer concerns with the following key messages:

  • Infestation is a storage linked problem.
  • It is safe to eat Cadbury chocolates.
  • Consumers must exercise the same care in purchasing a chocolate as they would when buying any food item.

At a second media briefing about two weeks after the first incident was reported, Cadbury announced significant steps to restore consumer confidence called Project Vishwas (Trust), this entailed:

  • A retail monitoring and education program undertaken on a war footing to address storage problems.
  • Significant packaging changes to ‘reduce dependency on storage conditions as much as possible’ –to be launched within two months.

An Editorial Outreach program with 31 media editors across 5 most affected cities was orchestrated by the agency to get senior Cadbury spokespeople to share their version of events in one-on-one meetings. The trade, and consumers, were reached nationally through a press ad ‘Facts about Cadbury’, released in 55 publications in 11 languages. It presented facts about Cadbury manufacturing and storage and highlighted corrective steps being taken by the company. This was a public statement of the corporate stand on the issue. The trade was supported with posters and leaflets to help them share Cadbury point-of-view with their customers. A response cell with a toll free number and an e-mail id were put in place to give trade a means to directly contact the company with any issues they faced- reinforcing the company’s commitment to quality. From the beginning, a series of town hall meetings were held with senior managers addressing employees

to ensure they were updated on the proactive actions being taken by Cadbury to manage media, help trade and ensure future occurrences of such incidents were kept to the minimum. Regular email updates from the MD were also used to communicate the company’s point of view and to ensure consistency of messaging since employees are the company’s ambassadors.

Phase 2: Packaging Change (January- March 2004)

The new ‘purity sealed’ packaging was launched in January 2004. By investing up to  Rs  15 crore (Rs 150 million) on imported machinery, Cadbury’s revamped the packaging of Dairy Milk. The metallic poly-flow, was costlier by 10-15 per cent, but Cadbury didn’t hike the pack price.This entailed double wrapping for maximum protection to reducing the possibility of infestation. This was a big step involving investment of millions of dollars and getting on stream a production process in 8 weeks, that would normally take about six months. To communicate these significant changes the company was making, Cadbury brought in a brand ambassador to reinforce the credibility that the company had demonstrated through its actions. Amitabh Bachchan , a legendary Indian film star, was chosen, as he embodied the values of Cadbury as a brand and connected with all of India – mothers, teenagers, children, media persons and trader partners.

cadbury crisis management worm controversy case study

A media conference was organized in Mumbai to launch the new packaging. And this was followed with press conferences in cities worst affected by the crisis – Pune and Nagpur in Maharashtra and Cochin in Kerala. In these conferences, media persons were encouraged to compare the old and new packs with an innovative comparison kit and experience the significant changes in packaging first hand. An audio visual with a message from Amitabh Bachchan, was beamed to build credibility and excitement. Given that much of the damage had come from television coverage, a video news release with packaging shots and factory shots was given to television channels to control the visual messaging. Simultaneously, senior Cadbury spokespersons had one-on-ones with the Editors of the Outreach program initiated in November 2003.

Another audio visual with a message from the star was used in a series of sales conferences to enthuse and reassure salespersons. And this helped to rebuild confidence in the salespersons to go and sell the product more convincingly and confidently to the trade. The announcement of the new pack was done through a testimonial advertisement on TV called ‘Sincerity’. It consciously addressed the problem head-on, with the superstar talking straight into camera about how before doing the ad he first convinced himself about the quality of Cadbury chocolates by visiting the factory. Consumers respected the brand for not skirting the issue but acknowledging it and giving a solution to the problem. This was Public Relations using a TV Commercial to get key messages across!

Campaign Results:

  • Media Coverage : The media relationship effort clearly helped in making media accept that the infestation was genuinely caused by storage-linked problems. From the start, all media reports carried the Cadbury’s point-of-view. Bad news automatically gets great coverage. However, the agency helped Cadbury get a total of 378 clips in over 11 languages covering the new packaging, and its benefits, in January 2004. The Business Today clip is a typical representation of the changed media perception and a better understanding of the problem over a three month period.
  • Sales : Sales volumes, which declined drastically between week 1 and week 10 of crisis, climbed back almost to the pre-incident levels by week. within 8 weeks of introduction of new packaging and communication. This is a clear reflection of restoration of consumer and hence trade confidence in the corporate brand.
  • Image : There was significant upward movement in ratings amongst consumers on parameters like company image, responsiveness of company and behavioral parameters like intention to buy Cadbury chocolates. While the new product introduction and advertising had their role to play in the changing consumer perceptions, the media’s positive coverage and the trade’s positive pre-disposition played a huge part in helping Cadbury regain its reputation in the market.

Role of Public Relations

Public Relations  concerns the total communications of your total organization/group of organizations. It is unlike advertising, where you are sharing skills of planning, creative and media buying teams with an out-sourced agency. PR calls for a very intimate understanding of the total inner workings of your organisation at all levels – workers to Board levels. It requires the integration of knowledge and communications. It is not a part time job for a Marketing Services Manager. If it is to work and serve the larger objective, the PR department should be independent, servicing others like production, personnel, marketing, finance, corporate agendas. Therefore, the PR Head should be part of the top management team – reporting directly to the CEO. He also needs to share everyone’s confidences.

The PR department of Cadbury’s played a very effective role in managing the reputation and keeping up the goodwill of the company.

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Commerce, for giving us the opportunity to work on this project by providing us all the facilities we needed for the study. We are highly obliged to our project guide Dr. Ramanathan for giving us the wonderful opportunity to work on this project that helped us to learn the inner core meaning of research and guided us to undertake the same in a practical manner. We would also like to thank our fellow students who played a vital role in assisting, supporting and guiding us without which this project would not have been materialized.

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