Dove, Snickers, M&M’s, Skittles, Extra, Pedigree Petfoods, Whiskas… You’ve all heard of these brands, each worth more than $1 billion, but you probably didn’t know they were all owned by Mars.
It is the largest private company in the world. It has never been listed. It is also the world’s largest maker of sweets and chocolate; But it is secretive and low-key, rarely giving media interviews and unwilling to release financial statements, even to banks. Since its founding in 1911, how has Mars built a candy empire?
The Source Of Mars Corporation
Mars got its start selling chocolate. Founder Frank Mars learned to make chocolate from his mother as a child. In 1911, Frank started a company called Mar-O-Bar, the predecessor of Mars, which produced a candy made from a mixture of caramel, nuts and chocolate. In 1923, Frank was reunited with his son after 13 years apart. At the age of 19, Forrest proposed to his father a way to make a chocolate malt drink into a portable product. Frank took his son’s advice, and the product became a classic Mars product, the “Milky Way Bar,” and Mars began to make its mark in the candy world.
In 1927, Mar-O-Bar officially changed its name to Mars, and the factory moved from Minneapolis to the west side of Chicago, where shipping costs were relatively low. Since then, Mars has produced Snickers bars and chocolate bars and has risen to become the second-largest candy manufacturer in the United States. Behind the prosperity, the father and son are full of contradictions. After many arguments, Frank finally had enough and kicked Forrest out of the house, giving him only $50,000 and the right to sell the Galaxy Bar overseas.
The Birth Of M&M’s
In the 1930s, the chocolate market in Europe was far more prosperous than in the United States, and Forrester set his sights on the European market. In 1932, he went to England with $50,000 and founded the Forrest Mars Food Manufacturing Company. And according to the taste of the British people improved the formula of the “Milky Way bar”, and launched the British version of the “Milky Way bar”, named “Mars bar”.
Then World War II broke out, the British government began to impose high taxes on foreigners, foreign investors retreated, and Forrester returned to the United States. But with a keen sense of business, Forrest found a business opportunity in the war. He found that soldiers often ate a kind of chocolate chip covered in thick sugar and that military chocolate was one of the army’s standard rations. At the time, most of the chocolate issued to the U.S. military was produced by the Hershey Company, the world’s largest candy manufacturer at the time, and these chocolates had very high requirements for resistance to high temperatures.
A typical bar melts in a few minutes, and Hershey’s chocolate bars have some resistance to heat, but can greatly affect the taste. So Forrester approached William Murray, then president of the Hershey Company, with the idea of developing a chocolate that would not melt and taste good. William Murray readily agreed, contributing 20% of the project and sending his son Bruce Murray to Forrester’s company to provide technical support for research and development.
The two companies complemented each other, one supplying hard shell icing and the other supplying chocolate, and in 1941, the two companies jointly developed M&M’s covered in colored icing. M&M’s stands for “Mars and Murris.” During World War II, M&M’s were required to be supplied only to the military.
Aside from supplying the military, M&M’s did not initially sell well on the market. In order to promote this product, Forrester spent a lot of money to invite the famous advertising master Bernbach, A “do not dissolve in the hand, only dissolve in the mouth” advertising slogan quickly made M&M’s beans well-known. Even more than 50 years later, this slogan has been rated as “the first famous advertising sentence in the United States.”
The Full Development Of Mars
Although M&M cemented Forrest’s place in the confectionery industry, what he wanted most was to take over full control of his father’s Mars Corporation. After his father’s death, Forrest took full control of Mars in 1964 after a battle for ownership.
During this time, Forrest never stopped starting new businesses. After the success of M&M’s beans, Forrester turned his attention to the processed rice market. The successful launch of “Uncle Ben’s Rice” , which is named after the rice mill owner. In 1979, Skittles were introduced, and with unique advertising marketing, it became another popular candy after M&M’s beans.
Mars is also moving into the pet food business. Mars took Dove into its fold in 1986, and after improving the purity and taste of Dove chocolates, introduced new flavors such as milk chocolate and dark chocolate in the 1990s. These chocolates continue the legend of Dove and remain popular to this day.
Although Mr. Forrester died in 1999, a new boss has carried on his style. In 2008, Mars and Buffett spent $26 billion to buy Wrigley, the largest chewing gum manufacturer in the United States, overtaking Cadbury, the world’s largest confectionery industry, and sitting on the throne of the world’s largest confectionery and chewing gum industry.
So far, Mars has more than 10 international brands with a brand value of more than 1 billion US dollars, including Snickers, M&M’s beans, Rainbow Hall, Dove and Yidar brands, known as the “Procter & Gamble” of the US food industry.
The Recipe For Success In A Candy Empire
“I’m not a candy maker. I want to build a candy empire.” Forrest has never hidden Mars’ ambitions, and much of Mars’ success is due to Forrest’s vision and management style
- Quality control of “Martian Monster”
Mars employees call Forrest “the Martian Monster” because of his high demand for quality.
He required the chocolate bean factory to scrub the floor thoroughly every 45 minutes; There are no more than 15 peanuts on each Snickers bar. He is said to have called staff in the middle of the night to ask for a batch of M&M’s to be removed from the shelves because he had bought a packet of the same batch from a supermarket and noticed that the “M” was not printed clearly enough.
- Strict family business culture
Mars is a typical family business, but it has a strict family business culture.
When Forrester took full control of Mars, he made radical changes to the company. He cut executive perks like the dining room, the French kitchen, the oak picture frame, the art collection, the carpet and the dedicated helicopter; They did away with fancy titles for management, gave them no secretaries, no big offices, and everyone had to answer their own phones, make their own copies, and pour their own coffee. He also ordered all employees, including members of the Mars family, to clock in and deduct 10 percent of their pay if they were late.
- Empower your employees
Although he was harsh on family members, Forrest delegated authority to his employees. Nowadays, people respect Haidilao’s employee rules, and in fact, Mars has already done so.
Forrester pays its employees well, lets them know that they are important, and gives them full rights at work, including those on the factory production line. Every employee must know how to maintain the machine, and any employee has the right to stop the operation of the production line if there is a problem with the product.
- Open up a new genre of quirky advertising
Most of the ads for Mars’ international brands are household names, such as Snickers, Dove, Experian and Skittles. Among them, Skittles has opened up a new genre of eccentric advertising by relying on “abnormal” advertisements.
People often associate colorful Skittles with childhood, but Mars doesn’t think so. Skittles advertisements often open the imagination, such as the Skittles back in the furnace to make a rainbow brain; The girl’s eyebrows grew out of the Skittles, and her teacher solemnly pulled out of her eyebrows and ate the Skittles; I also played the dense fear meme, where a man loves Skittles so much that everything from skin to hair becomes a dense array of skittles…
There’s no weirdest, just weirder. For more than 40 years, Skittles’ consistent quirky style has helped it establish a distinctive brand image among consumers.