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Case study - Mars: Find growth in a declining market



Case study - Mars: Find growth in a declining market

Mars, the leading chocolate manufacturer in China, was challenged by a declining market. To protect growth, they were keen to understand how to exploit all opportunities including media efficiency and effectiveness. They worked with Kantar Worldpanel, a CTR service in China, using their Consumer Media Measure, to understand the impact of different forms of media on sales. They then used these findings to adjust their advertising media allocation in a later period and enjoyed a much more effective advertising campaign as a result.

Mars manufactures and sells the four most popular chocolate brands across China - Dove, Snickers, M&Ms and Cuixiangmi – in 2018 they accounted for 34% of the amount spent on the category.

However, the total chocolate market had reached peak penetration in 2014 and in the years since has been losing buyers. Some exploratory work revealed that the one area in which sales were still growing was online, and that there was an opportunity amongst higher-income shoppers. Mars wanted to find a way to better engage this audience through their advertising.

The media landscape in China changes rapidly. In 2016 TV ceased to be the most popular form of media. Online video subscriptions have kept increasing, thus advertisers face the challenge of losing reach from online video pre-rolls, and have to find other forms of digital activation to make up the total audience reach. As a big advertiser, Mars wanted to understand the effectiveness of sources beyond just TV. They were particularly keen to know the relationship between online video, other digital activation and TV in driving sales.

Kantar Worldpanel, a CTR service in China, has a unique ability to track the same panellists from media consumption to purchase behaviour, including their promotional read through their Consumer Media Measure methodology. These tools make it possible to evaluate, analyse and understand the links between media consumption and actual purchase behaviour with a consumer focus. This behaviour can then be modelled with sophisticated statistical techniques to measure how each form of media works – individually and collectively.

Over the last couple of years, Kantar Worldpanel, a CTR service in China, has worked with Mars to track the impact of media on sales for their Dove brand, and to then feed the results through into the next campaign and track the difference that it has made.

The first project was the Dove Crystal Ball campaign during Chinese New Year. The evaluation revealed that the whole campaign had reach, but online video overlapped considerably with TV, while mobile brought in incremental reach. Whilst the total campaign generated a sales uplift which indexed 124 against the benchmark for China, Online TV had a 20% higher ROI than TV. It was TV which generated the optimal uplift of around 6-7 exposures per month with around 4 for Online TV.

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This insight was then applied to the next Chinese New Year campaign, running dual-copy of Crystal Ball and Gestures of Love, in 2017. The result was that the Online Video reach doubled compared to the previous year with much better cost efficiency. The total campaign led to an additional 2% increase in sales uplift with a similar ROI to the previous year but with a significant improvement for TV.

This study enabled the client to have a much clearer understanding of multi-media investment and dual-copy strategy during the Chinese New Year period and enabled them to plan better for 2018.

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Jason Yu

Managing Director, Greater China


+86 21 6170 0101

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Get in touch

Jason Yu


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