With Easter just around the corner, Alison Lawson, Head of the Division of Marketing and Operations, discusses the tactics brands use to lure us into buying Easter eggs, as well as five top tips to consider when choosing the perfect egg.
It’s nearly Easter. In fact, if you walk into a supermarket you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s Easter next week – the row upon row of Easter Eggs, chocolates and other goodies stretches before you into the distance, tempting and tasty.
The Easter Bunny is still at home with his feet up, having a laugh at all of us buying trolleys full of chocolate only to take it home, eat it and go back to buy more. How excruciating it must be for those who have given up chocolate for Lent, to walk past the walls of saliva-inducing temptation.
Why are there so many Easter Eggs on offer?
It’s because we can be picky and we like to try to buy something that’s tailored exactly to our own requirements. So, for my family, it goes like this. Husband – has to be a Fairtrade egg, preferably milk chocolate. Daughter – loves animals so it has to be a chocolate bunny, milk chocolate, preferably with something inside it; some extra sweeties to rattle around and increase the joy, but not too big because last year’s egg took two weeks for her to eat. Son – has to be Minecraft or Lego branded; the egg or chocolate is virtually immaterial (I may as well resign as mummy if it isn’t Minecraft or Lego).
And for me? It has to be white chocolate and not too big because I’ll feel guilty at eating so much chocolate. The brands know that we have all these issues to deal with, which is why there is so much variety.
Decision making theory
According to decision making theory, we search for information and evaluate the alternatives before making a decision. The higher the risk of the purchase, the higher the cost to ourselves in terms of money or loss of face by making the wrong decision, the more we are likely to consider the alternatives carefully. How long do you stand looking at the Easter eggs, weighing up one against the other? Brands try to help us out with our difficult and complex decisions. The packaging all screams for our attention: brand colours, logos and shapes which are easily recognisable. They grab our attention then hold our interest with the added extras.
Carefully designed packaging shows us what’s inside without revealing too much (or making the packaging unstable) – a little glimpse of brightly coloured tin foil, the colour of the chocolate, pictures of what’s inside the egg – the corner of the little china cup. These snippets make us desire the egg all the more.
The carefully worded text draws us in and, for those who want it, the ingredients list is available somewhere on the back or the base in small print. Yes, this is exactly the right egg for your mother, father, granny, child, teacher etc. Boxes ticked, egg purchase made easy. You take the action the brand wants you to take – you buy the egg and return home triumphant. You have succumbed to AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action). The AIDA model is used in marketing to describe and analyse how brands convince us to make a decision in their favour.
So, how do you choose the perfect Easter egg? Here’s some top tips to help you:
Who is the egg for?
If you’re buying for someone else, what do they like best? Do they have a favourite kind of chocolate or a favourite chocolate bar? Do they have any allergies or intolerances? Would they prefer a bunny or just a box of chocolates instead? As marketers would say, know your target market!
What impression are you trying to make?
How do you want the recipient to view you and your gift? Are you worried about appearing to be a cheapskate or appearing to be extravagant? Are you worried that you might receive an egg that is perceived as somehow ‘better’ than the one that you give?
Any added benefits?
Does the egg have any added benefits, e.g. sweets inside, a box of chocolates packaged with it, a branded toy or similar? What about the packaging itself – is there a game or cut-out mask? Is it recyclable, made from FSC-certified sources? What about the chocolate – is it Fairtrade? What percentage is cocoa? Is the egg personalised? The added benefits could be what makes you choose one egg instead of another.
How much do you want to spend?
What one of us considers ‘affordable’ another will consider ‘expensive’ and we may splash out because it’s only once a year. A small, simple no-frills chocolate egg may cost as little as £1, while a larger, hand personalised chocolate egg from a well-known chocolatier may cost £25 or more. But does £25 seem perfectly reasonable for the love of your life? Is it sensible to pay more than £1 if a small egg on its own will be plenty to delight a child (and more than plenty in terms of sugar)? The decision how much to spend is emotional as much as it is rational.
And a final tip…
Hide the egg so you don’t eat it and have to go back for another one before Easter!