Snickers Marathon: Masterfoods launches energy bar

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Snickers is gearing up to satisfy a new group of consumers with the $20-million-plus launch this October of Snickers Marathon, an energy-bar extension to the candy-bar brand.

In sales materials, Masterfoods USA said while health-bar sales have increased 500% over the last five years, the products still aren't purchased by 89% of households. So the company hopes that the Snickers brand name will draw consumers-specifically marathon runners-who have stayed away because of the taste of existing products.

A major print and TV effort beginning in January 2004, from Snickers shop Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York, will entreat "active" people to try the new Marathon bar with a great-taste message: "Finally, fuel plus flavor." Sampling to marathoners as well as to nutrition professionals will also support the launch.

Masterfoods attempted to venture into the growing energy-bar category in the mid `90s with a test in California markets of VO2Max. The bar was discontinued as a result of complaints it didn't taste good.

In recent years, the nutrition/energy-bar category has moved from a niche segment powered by small players to a $500-million plus segment now controlled by mainstream marketers including Nestle and Kraft Foods, which scooped up PowerBar and Balance Bar, respectively, in early 2000. But although sales of the category and individual brands are up double digits, the mainstreaming of the category has been slower than what the behemoths expected.

An executive close to Masterfoods said that the view of Snickers as a candy bar is likely to present a hurdle as the company attempts to merchandise the Marathon bar in the energy bar sections of retail outlets. But he pointed to Marathon's combination of what Masterfoods is calling its "quadratein" protein blend-a combination of soy, whey, casein and peanut proteins-as well as carbohydrates and nutrients as indication that the product really provides long-lasting energy and satiety. That positioning is not far afield from Snickers' longtime theme, "Snickers really satisfies."

Masterfoods spent $47 million in measured media on the Snickers brand in 2002, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

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