Will Hersheys deal with Asda appeal to UK consumers?

Kraft’s acquisition of Cadburys last year seems to have stirred its great rival Hershey into making a move into the European market. But will it be able to adapt its flavours to the tastes of the European consumer?

The chocolate giant is to start marketing its brands seriously in the UK from next year with a deal with Walmart-owned Asda to sell a range of its brands, including Hershey’s Kisses, in the majority of the retailer’s stores.

It is thought that other brands in Asda will include Mr Goodbar, Hugs and Reece’s Pieces products, while Hershey’s Kisses will be sold in Sainsbury’s as well.

At present only 14 per cent of Hershey’s $5.3 bn revenues come from Europe but it will have to work hard to make a serious dent over here. When the Kraft/Cadbury takeover was on the cards, opponents of the deal pointed out that most US chocolates (like its beers) taste horrible to UK consumers. The TV channels even did public taste tests, with some amusing results.

The head of Walmart’s international division, quoted in the Independent today, doesn’t seem to think that will be a problem. “We believe people will buy Hershey’s Kisses without a lot of marketing support if we demo them and let people taste them,” he said.

Other marketing experts may well beg to differ. If ever there were a case where a large sustained advertising campaign seemed to be de rigueur, Hershey’s move into the UK would appear to be it. Agency new business directors are no doubt already starting work on their pitch proposals.

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About David O'Reilly

David is a former deputy editor of Campaign and writer for a number of leading titles including Management Today and the Sunday Times. He is a partner in The Editorial Partnership.