BARCELONA, Jan 2, 2004. This is a naming and branding epic.
Spanish candy maker Enric Bernat Fontlladosa died in Barcelona on December 27. He was 80 years old. Born to a family of candy makers, Bernat bought Granja Asturias S.A., a troubled Spanish confectioner, back in the 1950’s. He took the advice of an article in the December, 2003 issue of the Harvard Business Review written by Nirmalya Kumar, Director of the Centre for Marketing at the London Business School. Kumar makes the case for eliminating unprofitable brands and focusing on the clear winners. He points out that many corporations generate over 80% of their profits from fewer than 20% of their brands. And he explains how hard it is for companies to kill their unprofitable brands.Â
Soon after he took over Granja Asturias, Bernat made the brave move of axing most of the company’s 200 products to focus on a line of caramel-filled lollipops. Bernat picked a strong brand name that would appeal to kids: Chupa Chups. It comes from the Spanish verb “chupar–to suck.” In English the product name might be “Sucky Suckers.” The lollipops went on sale in 1958, and ten years later his friend Salvador Dali designed the current logo which you can see in the picture. The festive display was an important part of the merchandising, and shopkeepers were told to keep it right next to the register, a fresh idea at the time.
Within five years, Chupa Chups were sold at 300,000 outlets in Spain, and Bernat renamed the company after its flagship brand. The Chupa Chups Group produces four billion lollipops a year which are sold in 40 flavors– including mango, chili and lychee–in 170 countries. Bernat’s three sons are now in charge, and Chupa Chups are the second biggest confectionary product brand in the world after Hall’s, with over $700 million in sales. And it all goes back to having the courage to kill off weak products and focus brand development on one good idea.