Adding Spice to Brand Vitality

How Ferrero USA—and social media—brought Cinnamon Spice Tic Tac back to store shelves

In 2010, the outcry was as intense as the cinnamon flavor missing from store shelves. Devotees of Cinnamon Tic Tac took to social media to vent their displeasure over the discontinuation of the flavor, a decision prompted by flat sales.

The feedback worked, as Cinnamon Tic Tac is on the way back, relaunched under a refreshed and reformulated Cinnamon Spice flavor.

“The cinnamon flavor was always solid, but not a growth flavor—it wasn’t declining nor increasing, so we delisted it [in 2007] to make room for new Powermint and fruit flavors,” Todd Midura, category marketing director for Tic Tac, Ferrero USA, told Convenience Store Products.

The ultra-popular Freshmint and Orange Tic Tac flavors have long propelled the brand, but consumer demand for Cinnamon Spice Tic Tac—driven through social-media outlets—has increased its brand cache considerably, and Midura can’t wait to see the results. “We have 1.3 million Facebook fans and it seemed 1 million of them chimed in with their displeasure about discontinuing the Cinnamon flavor,” says Midura. 

Cinnamon Spice is exclusively distributed through c-stores, a channel where Tic Tac has traditionally enjoyed high sales velocity.

The brand rebirth represented a call to arms to not only heed the sentiments of Tic Tac’s most loyal fans, but to also leverage that input during the brand reformulation process.

“When we returned Cinnamon to the portfolio, we took the opportunity [to not just] bring it back but to improve it,” explains Midura. “The original cinnamon flavor was ‘heat driven’ and one-dimensional.” So the company worked with an R&D team in Italy to create a more complex flavor that was both sweet and spicy, one that didn’t overwhelm the taste buds with heat. “We tested it with consumers, and hands down it received positive feedback,” says Midura.

By late 2012, Ferrero had performed R&D and a crossfunctional collaboration with sales and marketing to unveil what would be Cinnamon Spice Tic Tac. “We like to make sure a flavor is right before we launch, and not operate on the premise of throwing out new flavors just to see what sticks,” says Midura, a former brand manager with both Kraft Foods and Nabisco who joined Ferrero USA last fall.

Cinnamon Spice will be situated in c-stores within the mint brand subset because it aligns well with the breath-freshening need state—capitalizing specifically on tobacco buyers who regularly seek mint products.

Meanwhile, the company is also focusing on the new Fruit Adventure Tic Tac, which places an emphasis on exotic fruits and tropical flavors and “is part of a solution for consumers wanting many flavors rolled into one,” says Midura. Strawberry Fields Tic Tac will hit the market later this year—a “dual pill” of sweet strawberry and smooth creamy strawberry flavors in the same container. The company’s single packs (60 units) are getting a sister Jumbo package (200 units) that is available in grocery and drug outlets before possibly finding c-store distribution.  

Midura appreciates how social media has enabled Ferrero USA to communicate with fans and then execute on the fly, and the company was sure to show its gratitude. “When we first saw the social media comments, we kept track of the fans making the most commentary and decided to reward them. We mailed them a ‘welcome package’ of Tic Tac flavors, which helps build that personal relationship,” he says.

“We are always looking to leverage the voice of the consumer quickly and effectively. Cinnamon Tic Tac feedback was the most compelling and accumulative we’ve gotten at once,” Midura continues. “Social media will never replace internal decision-making, but it’s a piece of input that’s invaluable.”