M&M’s pots: packaging to grow the core

M&Ms is a mega-brand by anyone’s reckoning – more than 400 million individual M&M’s are produced every day in the United States and it has an estimated $4bn global turnover and simply massive awareness in every major confectionery market. So, what does a mega-brand of these proportions do to grow in a core market? The obvious route would surely be to look to innovation to provide growth. M&Ms have been doing flavour innovations, as you would expect – bring on M&M White Cheesecake, M&M Pecan Pie flavours. But the team at Mars have also been busy harnessing the power of packaging to grow the core with M&M Pots.

This is a simple packaging format change, but we believe it will significantly grow their brand. Why do we think this is a good example of using packaging to grow the core?

  • New occasion: Tackles a new occasion, driving, that has been a part of their consumption (bags in the back) but never a focus. This opens up a new set of competitors, confectionery consumed whilst driving.
  • Drives penetration: There are not many people who have never tried an M&M, but there must be a good many who don’t buy it regularly or at all. As Byron Sharp tells us, a brand’s growth relies on the long tail of occasional users – this initiative will drive take up by a whole new set of occasional users.
  • Adds value to the core: Those little pots turn something that needs two hands or at least a steady surface like a table, into something that can be consumed by one person with one hand whilst driving. Unlike many failed product innovations, this adds real value for consumers by solving a real problem.
  • Drive scale economies: Another smart thing about this pack innovation is the way Mars have leveraged technology from another category. If the pots look familiar, that’s because you may have been buying your chewing gum in them if you buy Wrigley’s, one of the brands Mars owns. This ability to leverage pack technology across categories to build scale is something Mars are masters at, having done it before with pouches used in pet food and human food, like Uncle Ben’s rice.


M&Ms are showing that even for a mega-brand with huge awareness and penetration there is still plenty of room to grow the core by thinking hard about your consumers and all their occasions and then making simple changes to meet those needs. We predict this will be a good little earner for M&Ms.


To get some practical help to grow your core business, you can download our Core Growth Driver toolkit by using the form below. This walks you through the 8 core growth drivers we’ve used on consulting projects and in training for leading companies including Mars, Unilever, Mondelez and AB InBev.

We also offer a short, on-demand course on our brandgym Academy platform here. The course is only £95+VAT and is fully refunded if you go on to take the full Mastering Brand Growth program.

To explore grow the core more, check out this other post.