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[February 14, 2014]
Bursting the bubble: Cadbury pulls off a Willy Wonka move with 'Bubbly'
(Express Tribune (Pakistan) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) In what reflects Pakistani consumers’ growing appetite for branded snacks, Bubbly chocolate was a sold-out at many retail stores across Pakistan only three months after hitting the market.
Launched in December last year, Bubbly was hard to find at many retail stores even in the upscale neighborhoods of Defence and Clifton until as early as week before Valentine’s Day, usually a peak time for chocolate sales. This was also confirmed by market sources and the manufacturer itself – the latter, however, insisted the stocks were selling quickly because of high demand and this was not a supply chain issue.
Bubbly is the latest addition to the Britain’s famous Cadbury chocolate range manufactured in Pakistan by Mondelez International, Cadbury’s parent and the world’s largest snacking company based out of a Chicago suburb.
There couldn’t be a bad timing for the shortage of Bubbly as it coincides with peak winter season including Valentine’s Day and that, too, when the snacking giant is running an aggressive marketing campaign for its latest product. Besides a TV ad campaign, one can witness gigantic billboards marketing Bubbly along major thoroughfares of the country’s largest metropolis resulting in more traffic at the retailers’ end while the stocks are short.
“We remained out of supplies for Bubbly for about four to five days,” an official from Imtiaz Super Market – the largest chain of supermarkets in Karachi – told this correspondent. “Our findings are the product is short across many stores in the city,” he added.
Officials from Hyperstar and Naheed Super Market confirmed the availability of Bubbly but added the product was mainly available at mega stores.
As opposed to the feedback we got from the market sources, Mondelez insisted the product is in high demand and selling very quickly and the company has no issues with the supply chain.
“Since its debut, Bubbly has been flying off the shelves and it is this high demand that causes it to sell out as soon as it arrives in retail outlets,” the Company’s Corporate and Government Affairs Manager for Middle East Ismail Al-Ghussein told The Express Tribune in an email.
The company’s regional spokesman says their supply chain network in Pakistan is in excellent shape and operating effectively. “We are currently planning further increases in supply of Bubbly for Pakistan, which is one of the fastest growing snacks markets in the world, to meet the consumer demand.” The company’s version was endorsed by Rehan Ansari, who had supervised the supply chain for Mondelez products – while working for their distribution company – until recently when he switched his job.
“It is clearly a case of extraordinary demand that the product was sold out at many places earlier than expected,” he said. Explaining, he said, the chocolate has a long production cycle. “They work five months in the summer – not a peak period for chocolate sales – to produce stocks for the winter season,” he said. The finished product goes through several lab tests for about four to five days to ensure it meets the quality standards, he said.
It is this long production cycle that the product takes a while to reach the market, Ansari said but one cannot ignore the extra ordinary demand, which they are unable to meet despite working on full capacity.
“I would call it a blessing in disguise for them. Launched recently, the product is already in high demand,” he said.
The supply shortage may be temporary but this certainly reflects the demand for their chocolate range. This is endorsed by the fact that their flagship Cadbury Dairy Milk is one of their fastest growing brands in Pakistan with sales of Rs1 billion a year.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2014.
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