Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Flaky, flakier, flakiest

So Cadbury is no more. As the grandson of a black country confectionery wholesaler I can recite the names of great British chocolate companies - Fry's, Mackintosh, Rowntree, Trebor, Terry's... - all now subsumed by Kraft and Nestle. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

But what irked me was not Kraft's takeover bid (perfectly reasonable - business is business) but rather the plaintive argument by Cadbury's leadership that their business was worth so much more. One has to wonder about the investor relationship strategy of a company claiming to have such great prospects but unable to persuade UK insurance companies to continue to hold stakes.

Todd Stitzer argued that Kraft's leadership were not of sufficient quality to deliver on Cadbury's potential. Now we will see. The test of Cadbury's own leadership came earlier - and their share price (before the advance by Kraft) put an absolute measure on their failure to leverage their brand with one of its most important audiences. Cadbury did a lot to revitalise its consumer brand over the last few years, but evidently not enough to revitalise its investor brand. Eleventh hour protestations were much too little, much too late.

People presume that marketing is all about consumers. This should serve as a wake up call. Perceived value applies to every audience. Kraft, it transpires, is the only investor who really perceives value in Cadbury. On that basis it is a worthy winner.