- Ferrero's revamped Butterfinger bar will hit shelves in February, Business Insider reported.
- The new recipe will showcase higher-quality ingredients — like jumbo runner peanuts in the bar — as well as a higher percentage of cocoa and milk in the chocolate coating. At the same time, Ferrero is cut ingredients including the preservative TBHQ and hydrogenated oils.
- Although the ingredients are more expensive and Ferrero will spend more on marketing than Nestlé had in prior years, the price of Butterfinger bars will remain the same.
In an effort to stoke growth in some iconic but slow-growing brands in a competitive candy space, Ferrero — the Italian maker of Nutella, Ferrero Rocher and Tic Tacs — is showing that it is willing to take bold (and perhaps necessary) steps to refresh the candy brands that it acquired from Nestlé in a $2.8 billion acquisition in April. However, starting with Butterfinger, which has been a beloved brand for generations, is a risky step.
Nobody can forget the catastrophe that was the introduction of New Coke in 1985. With only 13% of soda drinkers claiming to like the reformulation, the company brought back old Coke in just 77 days, calling it Coca-Cola Classic.
A less extreme example, but one that is much closer to home for Ferrero, came when the company quietly changed the recipe for Nutella in 2017 — and as a result faced boycott threats. In this instance, Ferrero stuck to its guns and the ferocity of the consumer base seems to have calmed down.
Of course, if fans love the change that Ferrero has in the works for Butterfinger, it will be a worthwhile and lucrative move that could not only bolster sales, but also attract new adherents into the fold. It appears that preliminary taste tests indicate that the revamped recipe with be embraced by consumers, Business Insider reported.
Wisely, Butterfinger’s new recipe is tapping into the growing consumer demand for real ingredients and better quality. With peanuts that are roasted in-house and a higher proportion of cocoa in the chocolate coating, Ferrero is hoping to grab the attention of those who look for healthier and more natural alternatives to the highly processed candy bars of their childhood. Studies have also shown that consumers love salty-sweet tastes and indulgent snacks, trends that the reformulated Butterfinger is tapping into.
Still, if Ferrero is going to follow on its reported plans to rejuvenate several former Nestlé candy bars under its umbrella, it should do so judiciously. Instead of shocking customers by retooling their favorite sweets, perhaps Ferrero should just start by reimagining the marketing and packaging that goes along with the product. Butterfinger is changing its label color in addition to its taste, and Ferrero could use consumer reactions as a barometer from which to judge future packaging changes.
After all, packaging can be powerful. Just look at Van Leeuwen, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based ice cream company, which changed its packaging to be more Instagram-friendly in 2017. The company saw sales rise 50% that fall. If Ferrero could replicate that success without having to spend the time, money and energy in reformulating its recipes, they might find a sweet spot to reinvigorate their American candy sales.