Upgrading to Android 4.4: Putting Kit Kat in a Billion Hands

In a curious marriage of technology and chocolate, Google and Nestlé have collaborated in an unprecedented fashion to co-promote the operating system, Android, and the chocolate, Kit Kat. Google has developed a habit of naming its operating system versions after sweet treats in alphabetical order. Following Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean, Kit Kat will represent a small break from tradition by becoming the first codename to feature a branded product. The launch represents a major marketing coup for Google and Nestlé. Whilst many may ridicule the marketing initiative as a gimmick, both Android and Kit Kat are likely to grow off the back of this exercise in co-branding with chocolate covered Android robots building brand loyalty across the world and Kit Kat becoming permanently associated with the world’s fastest growing operating system.

Android robot-shaped Kit Kat bars

Android Robot-Shapped Kit Kat Bars

Image courtesy of Nestlé

The most valuable marketing costs Kit Kat nothing

With over a billion new devices sold in 2013, tablets and smartphones have become the hottest tech in the market. Joining these two fast growing categories in the not too distant future, will be wearable technology such as smartwatches and glasses. Android currently sits at the heart of the majority of these devices and this signifies Kit Kat’s greatest opportunity. Every time a new Android device is sold over the next 6-12 months, sales people will educate consumers on the benefits of Kit Kat, the operating system’s latest version. Even existing users will upgrade their devices in their millions as the Kit Kat becomes available on their devices. This is marketing ploy is worth millions and yet payment to Google is non-financial. Rather than money swapping hands, Kit Kat will manufacture special edition chocolates in the shape of the Android mascot (pictured above).

Chocolate confectionery volume growth vs Androids share of the market

Kit Kat to cement its place in emerging markets

In addition to raising the global profile of Kit Kat, Android has typically been most popular in emerging markets, in particular China. Kit Kat’s presence in the Chinese market is relatively sizeable although its 1.3% share of chocolate confectionery market looks paltry compared to Galaxy/Dove’s 34.6% domination of the category. However, with 70% of Chinese smartphones sold using the Android operating system, Kit Kat is likely to see a surge in sales, particularly in rural areas where Nestlé’s distribution may be weaker compared to local brands. The pattern is also true of India, Russia and Brazil and is likely to lead to Kit Kat gaining popularity in all the right regions.

There are, of course, risks to both companies (and associated brands). Tech warriors the world over may cry that Google has ‘sold out’ the open source Android system. Similarly, Nestlé may be accused of being too aggressive with its advertising, particularly given the popularity of tablets among young children. However, these risks are likely to be outweighed by the sizeable benefits of this cross branding exercise. With so many potential matches to be made across food and non-food industries, many eyes will be watching this experiment to see just how Nestlé managed to put Kit Kat in a billion hands.