KitKat turns 80: How ‘moment marketing’ helped this iconic chocolate brand conquer the digital world

Aug 28, 2015

Few 80-year-olds can claim to be trendsetters in the digital age, so how has a brand celebrating its eighth decade managed to take social media by storm?
Launched in 1935, KitKat, with its trademark red wrapper and chocolate fingers, has not just stood the test of time, it has never stopped moving with it.

Named the most influential candy bar of all time by Time magazine, this wafer-filled chocolate has defied eight decades of changing business environments and consumer mindsets to become one of the world’s top ten fast-moving consumer goods brands in social media.
Its secret?  Its strong brand equity and its knack for leveraging ‘moment marketing’ - the ability to move fast and leverage topical or news events.

KitKat goes to space

Ever since 1938, KitKat has been associated with having a break. Its classic tagline ‘Have a Break, Have a KitKat” has been synonymous with the brand for almost 60 years.
Because more and more people are taking their breaks differently, such as getting online when they have a free moment, KitKat understands the need for having a strong digital presence.

The tipping point for its success as a digital brand came when the team began to use ‘moment marketing’ to engage with consumers online.
 “Going digital has helped KitKat engage with its consumers in a more intimate way than ever before” says Stewart.

For the love of KitKat

Google shocked the world of technology in late 2013 when, after months of online speculation, it named version 4.4 of its mobile operating system ‘Android KitKat’.   
 “We knew Google was looking for a sweet-themed name under the letter ‘K’ for their next Android system, but because all the previous ones were generic – such as cupcake and doughnut – no one expected it to be a brand.”

With a speed that had now become characteristic for KitKat, the tie-up was approved within 30 minutes of discussion by the Nestlé team.  “It just goes to show that big companies can move fast too” says Stewart.

The collaboration has proved to be KitKat’s most successful digital and creative branding campaign to date, but what the team prizes the most is why KitKat was chosen in the first place.
“One reason why Google invited us to share our name with their Android system – making us the first brand in the world to do so - was simply because their engineers were huge KitKat fans. It was pure love for the brand” says Stewart.

“No money ever exchanged hands. If that’s not a mark of how loved and relevant KitKat continues to be, I don’t know what is.” 

 
Staying ahead

 “The last five years have brought us unprecedented success as a digital brand and we’ve been quite good at keeping the momentum going every year. Now we’re looking at what we can do to break new ground and stay ahead” says Stewart.
“We’re going to give people more reasons to have a break with KitKat.”