Exports case study: Burton's Biscuits

Burton's Biscuits, originally founded in the early 1900s, are one of the major biscuit manufacturers in the UK; producing such well-known brands as Cadbury Fingers, Maryland Cookies and Jammie Dodgers. Until recently these brands were primarily sold and marketed in the UK with a relatively small percentage of sales being done in international markets.

Following a major strategic review in 2013 Burton's chose to focus on the development of a select number of international markets. The strategic review also included analysing the brand's core proposition, range, portfolio and pricing.

The United States was identified as a key international drive market for substantial picture of a packet of regular milk chocolate cookiesgrowth for Burton's. The US cookie market is very large with annual retail sales of approximately $6bn and is growing at a relatively moderate rate of 1-2% per annum. However, what was of particular interest to Burton's was that the premium segment which represents about 7.5% of the total market and growing at an annualized rate of 7-8% and is to a certain extent underdeveloped and therefore presented a significant opportunity for Cadbury Fingers.

Consumer research indicated that 72% of all US cookie buyers would be interested in purchasing Cadbury Fingers. In addition, the research also found out that there is a 73% prompted awareness of the Cadbury chocolate brand heavily associated with Easter and Crème Eggs in particular.

picture of a packet of salted peanut crunch cookies.The research also indicated that the American consumer thought that the existing UK designed fingers pack did not accurately represent the perceived premium positioning of Fingers in the US; and they also felt that the current smaller pack size didn't deliver real value for money. Therefore Burton's developed a brand new premium packaging design for the US market and increased the pack weight of the existing pack. In addition a new flavour variant was developed and added to the product portfolio to meet US consumer tastes.

The US market is large and complex with a bewildering array of importers, distributors, sub-distributors, wholesalers and brokers. Burton's found the most suitable local sales and distribution partner to navigate the best route to shelf across all trade channels. Together with our local partner Burton's then launched the new US Cadbury's Fingers into the market in February 2015 and was able gain listings in some key US retailers such as Walmart, Target and Shoprite and by the end of the first year had made significant gains in distribution and sales. Burton's also launched a small range of Cadbury branded Christmas cookies positioned both as gifts and stocking fillers. Cadbury Crème Egg cookies will be on shelf this Easter to complete the current range line-up and stimulate further sustainable growth.

The key to Burton's US success has been threefold. Firstly, comprehensive market research to identify the best product/brands for the market. Secondly, adapting packaging and products to meet local tastes; and thirdly, appointing the best available local distribution partner.

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Last reviewed: 18 Apr 2017