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TOBIAS BACHMULLER MILKA

By Published on .

BREMEN, Germany-Tobias Bachmuller scored for his company by thinking big.

Mr. Bachmuller, 37, director of marketing at Kraft Jacobs Suchard, was responsible for introducing KJS's oversized Milka chocolate bar, the hottest entry in the $1.3 billion confectionary category last year.

The bar, at 300-grams, is triple the size of normal chocolate bars in Germany.

Introduced in January 1993, the oversized Milka bar was so popular KJS had problems keeping up with production. KJS, in fact, sold $70 million of the larger Milka in the first year (around 10,000 tons of chocolate) and by the end of 1993 held nearly 5% of the total chocolate bar market-five times the expected 1%.

To accomplish this, "We had to build a brand and add something special to Milka, so that a [rival] oversized no-name brand by retailer Aldi cannot compete with us," Mr. Bachmuller says proudly.

"It is the sumptuous fillings which made the brand unique."

The four introductory varieties were nut nougat, noisette nut, nuts only and plain chocolate. "As the oversized Milka is twice as thick as the normal brand, this means a different sensation of taste for the buyers," he says.

It wasn't only sweet eaters who were impressed: The retail trade has been enthusiastic about the company's efforts, Mr. Bachmuller says, because they realized KJS was creating a new chocolate segment. While normal chocolate bars are used by the trade for "special offers" and price cuts, the new oversized Milka is not, which means higher revenues.

A 100-gram chocolate bar is priced at about 63 cents while the oversized Milka bar sells for approximately $1.94.

Advertising contributed to the brand's success in no small measure. The $12 million TV and poster campaign that broke late last February created by Young & Rubicam, Frankfurt, shows a grandfather clad in Alpine cloth explaining to his grandson the thumb-thickness of the oversized Milka.

The ad had universal appeal. Although targeted at younger people it actually attracted all consumer groups. "The wonderful thing about the rollout is that we attracted new consumers," says Mr. Bachmuller says. "Only 16% switched from regular Milka bars to the oversized bar."

The product's popularity is said to have inspired rival Nestle to consider introducing a 250-gram chocolate bar competitor later this year.

But KJS is already thinking even bigger. A new bar with almond cream and Europe-wide introduction is planned. France will probably be the next country into which the oversized Milka bar is introduced and there's talk the product may even make it to the U.S. someday.

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