Mars goes retro with Starburst’s brief return to original Opal Fruits

One of the week’s more intriguing confectionery tales concerns the UK revival of Opal Fruits for the first time in 22 years, albeit for a limited time period only.

The classic soft fruit chews were a family favourite, and the move by manufacturer Mars to rebrand them as Starburst in 1998 was by no means universally popular.

But as marketing strategies go, you can understand the logic given that they’d gone under that name in the US, so the company sought to align the brand on an international level.

So, for a matter of months, British consumers will be able to enjoy the retro-named sweet as they originally bought it since the 1960s. As to whether the distinctive regional branding will be kept, perhaps its popularity, or otherwise, may determine that outcome.

It follows a similar move from Mars, which recently brought back a limited run of Marathon bars for British customers (it had switched to reflect US branding in 1990 as Snickers. This was hailed a success by many, who regarded the move as a welcome return that gave some regional variety for a major international brand.

While branding can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool for all sectors of industry, the final judgement upon a product’s success or failure is in the sheer number of sales.
On this theme, one intriguing story making the papers this week is that of Nestlé’s Wowsome bars, which were launched in the UK to great fanfare in early 2018.

The key point of difference for these snacks was the fact that they were 30% reduced sugar, which the company said had been due to a newly restructured sugar formulation. This involved the added use of oats within its recipes, that the business hailed as a key flagship for a response to creating healthier snack options.

This week it was announced that the bars had been discontinued, and no sales figures for its performance have been released. The company reportedly stated that it continually reviews its portfolio, and that it had now released a new series of sugar reduced confectionery that remained its present focus.

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