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Toblerone was ensnared by Switzerland’s 2017 Swissness Act that restricts use of national symbols on products that don’t meet certain criteria. Courtesy photo
Ask Mr. MarketingColumns

Swiss chocolate vs. cokoladova tycinka

Cokoladova tycinka is Slovakian for chocolate bar, honoring the news that Toblerone is moving production from Switzerland to Slovakia.

Manufactured by Oreos owner Mondelez International, Toblerone is known for a unique recipe, triangular packaging, a Matterhorn logo and prisms of Swiss chocolate resembling the Alps. 

Bring in Switzerland’s 2017 Swissness Act restricting use of national symbols on products that don’t meet certain criteria.

Meaning from now on Toblerone won’t be able to use the Matterhorn (with the hidden bear) logo, nor claim to be Swiss made.

Given that the 155-year-old company has decades of equity built up from using this logo, I must conclude there’s huge savings by this move. Yet the bean counters may not have factored in the costs of rebranding and lost sales.

Because one important factor of branding is the ability of customers to spot you among the competition. For years, Toblerone’s logo and claim to Swissness have helped them stand out against everyday brands like Hershey and Mars. 

Were I Toblerone’s competition, I’d be seeing this as a huge opportunity to steal their market share. Moving forward, Lindt or other Swiss chocolatiers will undoubtedly trumpet their Swiss roots, commitment and long affiliation with only the finest quality chocolate.

The economy’s in a funky place right now, and lower production costs should pay off over time. But it’s important to remember that many people consider chocolate to be a luxury that can be cut from the budget when times get tight.

And if the world’s economies crater anytime soon, it’ll be easier to not buy a consumer product that’s voluntarily saddled itself with such a significant rebrand.

My prediction: Mondelez needs 2-3 years to make up for the anticipated hit to its sales.

True, every business must make the stakeholders happy. And you pay attorneys and accountants for their advice.

However, marketing and sales professionals are charged with growing the business, and this challenge will certainly make their lives more difficult.

Well-run businesses let lawyers and accountants guide them while focusing on marketing and sales. That’s how you keep shareholders happiest in the long run.

Mondelez has obviously committed to this course of action, and I wish them well. But from a strictly marketing perspective, I’m kinda rooting for the competition.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

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