mcvities ad

Sales: £464.5m (-1.0%)

It was always going to be tough for McVitie’s to keep up the pace of growth of recent years. In our 2015 ranking, it was up £6.2m, having shifted an extra 14 million packs.

Sure enough, the value of Britain’s biggest biscuit brand has begun to crumble as UB has succumbed to price pressures. Volumes are still up, by 1.3% or 5.3 million packs, but this has been undermined by lower prices.

Take Chocolate Digestives, McVitie’s top seller, which is now selling for 3.5 pence a pack less than a year ago. “This is due to a combination of promotional frequency and depth, driven by pound, half-price and better than half-price deals,” says UB marketing director Sarah Heynen. She adds that although deals are set by retailers, UB recognises their importance in driving volumes. McVitie’s volume share of sweet biscuits now stands at 28.3%, up 0.6 percentage points, she claims.

Despite the dip in value, McVitie’s is outperforming the overall category. Heynen puts this down to UB’s masterbrand strategy and Sweeet ad campaign that began two years ago. Spontaneous awareness of the brand is up from 24% to 29%, while the proportion of people calling it a ‘brand I love’ has shot up from 18% to 28%. It used to be 22 points behind rival Cadbury, but the gap has narrowed to 14 points.

Now McVitie’s is chasing confectionery brands with renewed intent with its latest launch, Maltesers (36) lookalike Digestives Nibbles. “That takes our brand and, more importantly, biscuits into a more premium occasion: evening sharing,” says Heynen. “Initiatives like that are key to driving category growth.”

Along with this launch, which is targeting sales of £15m-17m in year one, UB has created a McVitie’s Sweeet mobile app and new TV ads aimed at young adults, who under-index in biscuits.