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How M&Ms Stays Relevant And Markets To Millennials

Benjamin Leong
Benjamin Leong
November 14, 2016
2 min read
How M&Ms Stays Relevant And Markets To Millennials

M&Ms have been around and popular since the Forties when the world was quite a different place.

The brand has seen plenty of changes over more than half a century, but somehow still remains relevant and ever-present.

Just how does M&Ms do it?

One thing that sets M&Ms apart from other brands is its word-of-mouth marketing — people keep talking about it, generating free advertisement and positive association for the candy.

The more word-of-mouth you get, the more people talk about it, and the more they remember and associate M&Ms with “chocolate”, “snack”, and “great”.

Where will you be when the chocolate craving hits?

Let’s take a look at some of of M&M’s strategies for success.

1. Get your customers and fans involved in the development of your product

The rule is simple: when customers can shape the future of their favorite product, they become a lot more invested.

Mars, the company behind M&Ms, is no stranger to reaching out to its audience. Last year, M&Ms ran “Vote For Your Favorite Peanut” and colour change votes, where consumer choice decided future M&Ms colours and flavors.

marketing strategy
Never been prouder to be a responsible voting member of the public.

This “direct, authentic and real dialogue” with and appreciation for consumer opinion did wonders for their outreach and sales.


The M&M’s Character Vote drew in over 3.5 million votes and bumped up both sales and brand excitement. Despite initial misgivings, the “Become an M&M” campaign and customizable candies grew sales an entire 2%.

Clearly, customers want to be involved. In fact, customers that are actively and emotionally involved are 300% more likely to spread positive word-of-mouth about your product.

2. Create a great experience for fans on social media

Okay, so you want to involve your audience. The question is — how do you reach out to them?

The answer is simple: social media.

Pinterest is full of recipes involving M&Ms

The medium provides a window into the lives and spending patterns of over 90 million millennials in the US alone. Now that’s an amazing reach.

Couple social media’s immense reach with this fact: 7 in 10 viewers take a positive action (such as visiting brand websites or making calls) after reading an authentic online review.

It’s a no-brainer: a good social media presence is invaluable.

Mars caught on to the “highly viral nature” of social media, relying on Facebook heavily for their M&M Pretzel campaign and building active Facebook pages for their candy mascots.

Miss Green, appropriately, hosted a ”Tour of Ireland”, a Facebook selfie competition, and an award-winning Snapchat campaign for St. Patrick’s Day.

Did it work? You bet it did. As a result of social media marketing, M&M increased market penetration by 17%, rocketing into the Top 10 chocolate brands in Ireland.

3. Use word-of-mouth and social connections

Advertising on Facebook is good and all, but take your advertising one step further using word-of-mouth (WOM).


WOM proves to be more effective than traditional marketing, with 74% of consumers acknowledging word-of-mouth as an influencing factor. This ranks WOM as more effective than official brand websites (59%) and TV (51%).

Yet, for such an effective strategy, nothing could be simpler.

For example, M&M offered invited connections on Facebook to invite just two Facebook friends to claim M&M Pretzel sample bags for themselves.

With just that, connections on their Facebook page grew by 9%, and 120 thousand samples were mailed — within 2 days.

The Pretzel campaign was so effective that people were still leaving positive comments on the Facebook page half a year later.

Immersive and creative ads make it easy to “spread the word” and get friends to join in the fun.


The perfect example is M&M’s groundbreaking 2010 contest in Canada, “Find Red”. Way before Pokémon Go, it used Google Street View to challenge viewers to find the character Red.

The contest was a smash success. People got their friends to join in the search, leading to over 8 million social media impressions and 225,000 Twitter mentions. (Red was found, too.)

Benjamin Leong
Benjamin Leong

Benjamin is a current undergraduate majoring in politics, philosophy and economics. In his spare time he debates, coaches debaters, and wonders how to survive a nuclear war.

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