The slogan of chocolates Baci Perugina says that “Just as your mom: she never changes”, Bucaneve biscuits are “a world of sweetness”, Panini stickers are “the great collections for kids” and finally, “how would the world be without Nutella”. All these products: Baci Perugina, Bucaneve biscuits, Panini stickers and Nutella are enduring more than the majority of others. They’ve been on shop shelves for a long time and nothing seems to put in danger their commercial success. So, which is
the “trick” behind this longevity on the market?
As almost every product that characterised an era, those mentioned have maintained unchanged both in taste and packaging, still “changing” slowly but steadily with the years passing by. The “trick” is exactly to make the product evolve in a slow but constant way.
There are two ways followed by companies. Changing the taste of the product, maintaining the external form, or the opposite, modifying the packaging and keeping the taste intact. Who decides to change the taste of the product keeps the flavour perception of it similar during the time. The reasoning is: as the people’s tastes evolve, the beloved product must necessarily follow the trends.
A change of taste case by the side of consumers can be found in the spirits industry.
Giuseppe Nardini, a gentleman in his eighties who has produced grappa since he was a young guy, says that “people’s tastes adapt themselves to the experiences of a specific moment, and producers must adapt their products consequently”. In his professional experience, Nardini has seen tastes change radically. A period of great changes in the industry took place in the 80s “when British and American spirits were very popular. Real bombs from a flavour point of view. They would get into
your mouth and down your throat giving you a shock. The taste was standardised for all products.
In those years, people had lost their capability to taste flavourings. In order to be competitive we also used to sell a much more intense grappa. Today we’ve gone back to more traditional tastes”.
Other products remain the same in the taste but change their exteriority. As it is for Coca-Cola, it is said that a mysterious recipe is behind the success of Nutella, even though this is only a tale as Nutella is “a simple chocolate cream”. The difference of this product compared to similar ones is the longevity of the brand and the fame of legendary product that has been created also thanks to the
many films where it acts as a protagonist and to significant investments in ad campaigns year after year. Films and commercials have rooted Nutella in the consumers’ mind, generating the feeling of a quality higher than the average. Nutella is an emblematic example of a product that stays so long on the market without basically changing over the time. From time to time a new packaging is
introduced in order to meet new consumers’ needs, but the chocolate cream stays the same.
Marketers often debate on the substance of things compared to their appearance. The interesting theme for researchers who try to understand the value of brands is determined by the importance of the external image compared to the quality of the product. The value of Nutella brand is undeniable.
It is ranked number one for its reputation, certified by Reputation Institute, an international authority which values these parameters for famous brands. Speaking about the quality of the product, competitors of Nutella would have something to say. If you read the label of Nutella and its main ingredients, you would discover that rival products contain better ingredients but they are also more expensive. As a huge number of Nutella jars is sold every day all over the world, the retail price can be kept very convenient, added to the legendary image above mentioned. Therefore Nutella is and remains the best selling product in its category ever. By the way, just try to debate on the nutritional facts of Nutella with someone passionate about it, only willing to sink his finger into the jar and looking for a brand that is reassuring for him!
Finally to the point: guarantee. Products that stay on shop shelves for a certain while acquire the ability to give guarantee because they have existed since ever. The conclusion is: if these products keep on selling so much, it means that someone buys them and so they are qualitative products. The more brands age, the more they become beautiful and good. Consumers remember positive experiences of the past, so they keep purchasing them. Moreover, in such an uncertain historical period, when consumers back down and become more cautious with their purchases, a very peculiar
factor emerges: nostalgia.
Successful historical brands keep a nostalgic element that allows consumers to make a connection with the past and the company to exploit a range of positive connections linked with memories. In a marketing process, nostalgia is a positive attitude that one has towards experiences and objects that marked his or her youth. Nostalgia seems to focus on the consumer’s attention on the past, particularly in uncertain and harsh economic and social periods such as the one we are living.
Nowadays, not only the “good old times” are idealized but also an attraction for objects (and products and brands) associated to the past is created. Besides, nostalgia is a perfect ally of brands because it raises a sense of belonging to a community and a feeling of uniqueness and authenticity that was found in the old times.
Then, there are products that disappear from shop shelves. They belong to two different categories.
Those whose function has expired, such as Walkman surpassed by technology and the consumer’s tastes, and others which fall temporarily from grace and maybe will make a comeback. To this second category belong Moncler winter coats, gone back into the market a few years ago after a long absence.
Moncler was a very popular brand in the 80s. Italian kids “paninari” used to wear Moncler and the huge success, especially in Italy, came with the imitation of the fashionable “paninaro” by the comedian Enzo Braschi in the TV show “Drive In”.
Today Moncler has come back with high quality and stylish products, almost as if it wanted to follow the growth and style evolution of those kids who are now men and women in their 40s with a fairly good purchasing power. They can buy the product that made them dream, but they want it better and updated to their actual environment. No longer “only fashion” but also substance.
Consumers’ habits are hard to change. If a brand is reliable, flexible (changing as described) and above all keeps its promises, it has the chance to stay on the market for a long time. When it makes a mistake it is rejected, but there’s always the chance to get back.

by Mirko Nesurini, CEO GWH Swiss SA

Read the published version in Italian here