Yowie chocolates return to Australia, but will the brand capture buyer nostalgia?

Chocolate lovers everywhere are rejoicing over the news Yowie chocolates will be returning to Australian shelves.

The ASX-listed Yowie Group announced yesterday it would be shipping multiple containers of the Kinder Surprise-like treats from its manufacturing plant in America.

Distribution partner in Australia Universal Candy will be selling the product across Australia and New Zealand.

“Australia was a logical choice to begin our expansion outside of the US because of strong residual brand awareness and affinity for the product, ” global chief executive Bert Alfonso said in a statement.

The group is also looking to expand into a new market by the end of the year.

Twitter users didn’t hesitate to express their support for a Yowie resurgence.

Yowies rose to prominence in the late 1990s, with the products’ ties to Australian folklore capturing audiences, along with significant marketing by then-owners Cadbury and Kidcorp.

During its peak, the company says it sold 65 million units of the treat over the course of a year, corresponding to approximately three Yowies per Australian resident.

In 2005, Cadbury lost a legal battle with Australian personality Tim the Yowie Man as the company claimed the man’s moniker was too similar to the Yowie product. Tim won the case. Cadbury later ceased Yowie production in Australia.

In 2012 The Yowie Group bought back the rights from Cadbury and listed the company on the ASX. It then relaunched the product in the US market in 2014.

During the 2013-2014 financial year, the Yowie Group incurred a loss exceeding $6 million. However, strong sales in the US turned the company around, bringing revenue in 2016 up to over $US13 million, despite losses of $US7.3 million.

Treats need new yow factor

Despite Yowies resting warmly in the memory of many 20-30-year-olds, marketing expert at Marketing Angels Michelle Gamble believes the brand will need to make the chocolates relevant to new audiences.

“The original audience has moved beyond the Yowie brand. They’ll probably talk about it and buy a few, but the company needs to do something to give it new life,” Gamble tells SmartCompany.

“They’ll need to grow the brand and get good penetration. It has to be relevant to a younger generation as well.”

Gamble believes this can be achieved by getting the brand in the right channels, such as popular “corner store” retailers like 7/11.

“The corner store mentality still exists in kids these days. They might not be spending a dollar on a mixed bag of lollies anymore, but they have the same purchasing behaviour,” she says.

“Support this with good marketing that millennials are using, like YouTube or Snapchat.”

For brands hoping to employ a bit of nostalgia-based marketing, Gamble notes that relaunching a loved product isn’t the only way to do it.

“Nostalgic advertising can work well for products businesses are still selling or are still being bought. It’s a great way to get old buyers coming back,” Gamble says.

“Nostalgia can be fleeting so you’ve got to make it relevant.”

SmartCompany contacted the Yowie Group and Universal Candy for comment but were not provided with a response prior to deadline.

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