Allen's Lolly Bar 'lights up inner child' in Sydney

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 5 December 2016
Allen's Lolly Bar in Sydney.

Green frogs. Minties. Fantails. Bananas. Strawberry Creams and just about every flavour of snake you heart desires.

Remember the good old days when you used to round out some shrapnel and head to the local corner store to buy a white paper bag of Allen's lollies?

These fond memories of childhood are currently being brought to life at Nestle's latest brand activation. An Allen's Lolly Bar has been set up at Westfield in Sydney's CBD, selling all of the old classics in personally customised jars to celebrate 125 years of Australia's largest candy company.

The activation, which is being executed by IPG's brand experience agency Ensemble, is identical to Nestle's Kit Kat Chocolatory, a pop-up that was so successful it became a permanent fixture in Melbourne.

Since October, the store has helped grow Kit Kat's share in all of the brand health metrics Nestle uses while social media shareability has gone through the roof.

“We really believe in the power of personalisation and customisation and particularly younger consumers, our millennial audience for whom food exploration and discovery is a really important part of their social life and the way in which they share experiences with one another,” Nestle Confectionery general manager Martin Brown tells AdNews.

“It's a great brand experience and a great value up opportunity; there's a huge amount of consumer value placed in being able to customise and personalise a unique version of a big brand.”

Martin Brown quote

Driving talkability

Brown believes pop-up stores and other rich user experiences can be a far more effective marketing tool than traditional display advertising to drive consumer talkability, which is one of Nestle's main measures of success.

“With such fragmentation of media and so much power in individuals to choose what they want to watch, where they want to watch it and on their terms, the real measure of whether you've made an impact is whether they're talking about it with their friends,” Brown explains. “This is the test we've put on the quality of our marketing – are we creating talkability and making our brands relevant.

“A 30-second TV commercial is hardly likely to spur an exchange over the water cooler the next day in the same way a unique brand experience in an outlet like Kit Kat chocolatory or the passion we've seen people have in the Allen's Lolly Bar.”

There's an added bonus to experiential marketing that should not be overlooked – real-time consumer insights, which for FMCG brands can “have a disproportionate impact on a brand's future”.

“If you can find a way to be much more impactful in brand building and you can create a co-creation loop with your consumers by giving them the power to choose and create what they want, you can learn a huge amount about what real lovers of your brand want,” he adds.

Rekindling childhood

In the short time the Lolly Bar has been in place, Nestle has learned that Allen's lollies have a strong connection to childhood moments in kids and adults alike.

“Adults come to it and you can see the child light up in them,” Brown observes. “We've had people come from all over the state and interstate to the opening just so they could order their favourites. It's a rare brand that can pull people in from Canberra to Toongabbie.”

The response has been so overwhelming that Brown says Allen's would consider opening a permanent Allen's Lolly Bar after the pop-up spends some time in Melbourne, where Allen's is originally from.

In good news for Sydneysiders, a Kit Kat Choclatory could be opening up, following on from stores in Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur and London – an Aussie marketing innovation that Nestle has spread abroad.

But for now, lolly loves in the harbour city (or those willing to travel there) have a few weeks to create their own lolly jar, including a few discontinued classics (I'm looking at you, green frog) in the run up to Christmas.

For Nestle's head of confectionary, that choice is pretty straight forward.

“I'm a Snakes Alive kinda guy. We make the tastiest, stretchiest snakes in the market. I love them.”

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