Nestle Crunch Stixx

Nestle has created a new form for its popular (but old — 1938) Crunch bar: Crunch Stixx. The remake moves the product to a more premium space and also makes it more convenient. Nestle rolls novelty, demographics, premiumness and convenience into Nestle’s Crunch Stixx.

By Hollis Ashman and Jacqueline Beckley, Consumer Understanding Editors

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Premiumness: Small portions are integral to premiumness; they remind us to savor the food. The idea of 100 calories for a snack (Stixx actually are 90 calories) is important to most boomers as they balance premium, better-tasting foods that are traditionally high in calories with the health and weight aspects of calorie and portion control. For a teen girl (which some of the advertising is directed at), eating a Stixx just looks nicer than eating a chocolate chip cookie. You can get the model look.

The experience

Nestle Crunch Stixx is available in two varieties, Dark Chocolate and Milk Chocolate, and there also are Butterfinger Stixx. There are six individually wrapped 17-g rods in each box for $1.66-1.99. An emergency two-pack recently has been added.

The rectangular box has an up-market look to it. It is a rich brown color (for the dark product) with a ribbon of chocolate behind a beauty shot of four Stixx. It has the traditional blue and white Crunch banding with a funky font for Stixx.

The product descriptor of dark chocolate-covered wafer and dark chocolate crème at the bottom of the package lets the consumer know he is in for a different Crunch experience. The box has a perforated opening at the top that reminded some of our taste-testers of a gift box.

On the back of the package is one of the best examples of a concept board we have seen with the product attribute differences clearly called out in a blueprint-type drawing with “Have a Delightful Afternoon” as a usage occasion suggestion. The idea of tasting a new chocolate product had people very excited.

Flavor (aroma and by mouth), texture and appearance are critical to the perception of quality in candy. Quality has a lot to do with the color and sheen of the chocolate, the aroma, followed by the type of texture and then the lingering flavor in the mouth. The Crunch bar is all about the textural difference of creamy chocolate vs. crunchy texture.

Consumers of crunch bars are looking for this textural difference. For these rod-shaped forms, the texture was critical to perceptions of freshness. Teens and men noticed how easy this product was to eat while doing something else. The teens tried them while playing computer games and spoke to the fact that regular Crunch bars fall apart over the keyboard and you have to dig the chocolate out later. These Stixx did not fall apart and could be eaten while both hands were busy.

Men liked the size and felt there was enough here to stop a craving for sweets (but not fill them up). Women felt the size was a good one for a snack, and they liked the recommendation on the package for using this product for an afternoon snack. They could eat the entire stick and feel like they had had a chocolate craving filled. Even if they ate another Stixx, they would only have consumed 180 calories, still less than most candy bars.

There was a mix of opinions regarding the crème filling. Some felt the creaminess and depth of chocolate was incredible and built up the indulgent feeling. Others did not like the crème filling with the cookie wafer since they felt that the difference between chocolate and crisp rice in a Crunch bar gave more of a smooth/crispy texture than the rod coated inside and out with chocolate for the Stixx. This made some women think Stixx were stale. The rods themselves created a very different eating experience due to a different shape, which seemed upscale in comparison to bars.

Does the product deliver?

This brand is about crunch. Nestle has extended the crunch sensation and given the product more textures for the consumer to experience. The crisped rice with the chocolate coating is nostalgic enough for most consumers. The chocolate is high quality and the textural difference is unique.

How to make the idea bigger: This is a good idea for an expansion of the brand and product. At around 3.5 oz. per box with individually wrapped packages, consumers believe they are getting more product when they are actually getting less chocolate. It’s a great way to sell chocolate, make a person feel good and get a higher price for your regular ingredients (which you are using less of).

The product form sets up Crunch for more textural experiences with potential alternatives to the crème filling or the crispy wafer. Stuffing and enrobing combine to offer a lot of potential for switching up flavors and textures. Imagine peanut butter and chocolate. Or savory fillings and a coated film on the surface. At less than 100 calories, this takes away the guilt of eating chocolate and refocuses the consumer on savoring the chocolate and multiple textures.

The product also elevates Crunch to more than just a midrange brand, one better able to justify its price against private label and other midrange chocolate brands. It does not alienate teens with too much premiumness but provides benefits they need in their computer-connected lives.

Rating: The product does deliver on all the promises.

Market potential: Good, for the line, good for the category. This is a great form to make the idea even bigger. It’s an excellent example of taking something familiar to another level. And the use of the package as the concept board/ad — great thinking!


Hollis Ashman is chief strategist and Jacqueline Beckley is president of the Understanding & Insight Group, a strategy, business and product development firm that connects with consumers using qualitative and quantitative approaches. See www.theuandigroup.com.

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