Dear McVitie’s


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Dear McVitie’s

Thank you for prompting me to think about Me-toos with your Breakfast Porridge Oats biscuits:

McVitie's Breakfast - Porridge Oats

It appears that Kellogg’s are on the case too with their Nutri-Grain Breakfast biscuits:

Kellogg's Nutri-grain Breakfast Biscuits

And all because of a brand that no-one (in the UK at least) had heard of until a few years ago.


So what’s going on?

Well, according to The Grocer’s Top Products Survey 2012 (it’s a cracking read), Kraft’s Belvita brand is now worth £45m and growing at over 70% per year.

Any sensible Marketeer would what a piece of that action, wouldn’t they?

Of course I could have been thanking Carling for their Stella Cidre looky-likey Carling British Cider:


Or it could have been BMW with their new 6-Series Gran Coupe which very clearly fills the slopey-rooved-4-door-sporty-looking-executive-car gap in their portfolio created by the Mercedes CLS, followed by the Audi A7, and the VW Passat CC:


Me-toos through and through.

But what’s wrong with that?

It strikes me that some Marketeers have a patronising tendency to look down on Me-toos or at least to talk about them in pejorative terms, which, at the risk of getting overly Freudian, may be born out of the dreaded childhood/playground accusation of being a “copy-cat”:

  • Can’t you think up your own ideas? 
  • It’s a blatant rip-off
  • It’s a shameful case of jumping on the band-wagon
  • Etc

Actually I think the negative attitude towards me-toos is driven by shaming feelings of:


  • Envy – “I wish we’d thought of that first”
  • Self-interest – “My boss won’t be too happy to see a competitor brand steal a march on us”
  • Differentiation myopia – “My brand must be different at all costs or else I’m not doing my job properly and will deserve the low esteem in which my Differentiate or Die minded colleagues will hold me in”


But if there’s a market, if consumers are spending their money on products that a brand is well placed to deliver but which they don’t currently produce, then why wouldn’t the brand go after it?

Even if they’re only doing it to make life difficult for the Me-one – aka “deploying a competitive blocker or harrasser” – surely it’s worth having a go? Surely it’s better to be on the band wagon than nowhere near it?

OK, McVitie’s (and Kellogg’s for that matter) you might have made slightly more effort to make your packaging design more distinctive (I smell research group influenced design here – although the somewhat weak counter-argument is that Belvita have already established the Breakfast Biscuit semiotic / category codes (i.e. yellow) and that you’ve got it right), but fundamentally, I believe you’ve done the right thing.

You’re a big brand known – in fact loved – for your biscuits.

There’s an emerging sub-segment, that a previously unknown competitor has all to themselves.

You should get after it and who cares if you didn’t think of it first.

Consumers certainly don’t care (at least won’t in about 2 minutes) and ultimately, they’re the ones that pay the bills.

You’re entirely right to have chased after Belvita and I suspect that you’ll all establish a reasonable share as (if) the category continues to grow, innovate and mature.


And finally, thanks McVitie’s for reminding me of the rant I had about the ineffective nature of your Passion for Baking strap line when I was thanking San Miguel here – you’ve saved me the trouble of working myself up into another rant on this beautifully blue-skied January day which is giving every indication that Spring is on the way – hurrah!

Thanks again





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