Changing Shapes!

by PTidey 213537711



In April 2016, backlash and fury by consumers led Arnott’s to revert at least two favourite flavoured Shapes biscuits, original barbeque and chicken crimpy, back to their original recipes (, 2016), but what about all the other favourite Shapes? Arnott’s claimed the ‘new and improved’ flavours were developed as a result of extensive tests and upon demand for ‘bigger and bolder’ flavours as requested by consumers.

With so much anger and rage over the new improved recipes, one would question what type of market research pre-testing was conducted to initiate the new recipe developments as well as taste tests to ensure these new flavours meet the original concern of the consumers. According to Arnott’s, the new recipes were as a result of thousands of consumer requests for ‘more’ flavour. Consumers may have simply meant to ‘add’ more of the same flavour to the biscuit, but Arnott’s understood this as a revamp of the flavour to accommodate the change to our newly acquired palettes as a result of the diverse culture now present in Australia. It is claimed by Arnott’s that over 11,000 Australian frequent Shapes consumers (i.e. teens, mums and men) were surveyed; involving qualitative and quantitative research, sensory and alienation testing with a positive outcome (, 2016).

At a cost!

Arnott’s claim to have invested so much money into these new improvements, it would simply be an uneconomical and possibly unfeasible task to revert all flavours back to their original recipe. Money was spent on market research and development as well as hardware to facilitate these changes.

Quantitative versus qualitative research

Organisations choose to use market research to better understand customer’s needs and wants so they can make the ‘right’ choice on behalf of their consumers. Quantitative and qualitative data research is two methodologies that can be engaged in such market research to achieve a desired outcome. Quantitative research includes numerical measurements to conceptually better understand consumers’ responses to an experiment or survey; in comparison to qualitative data which focuses on meaning and importance rather than measurements to better understand the thought process of these consumers. The latter is not as easy to define and analyse (Keegan, 2009) as these can be perceived with different interpretations of the same question receiving a more subjective response.

One may speculate that the qualitative data analysed by Arnott’s research team (whether in-house or outsourced, as this is unknown) may have been misinterpreted or not correctly understood as best to reflect that of the voice of the consumers, questioning the reliability or validity of the research undertaken. The technique that has been employed in this research has not clearly been defined by Arnott’s; nevertheless the misalignment between the result of the market research and post-consumer response does not portray a successful research process or outcome.


Australian population of over 24 million people (, 2016); is a sample size of eleven thousand consumers a large enough size to represent frequent Arnott Shape’s consumers? Sampling in market research can be a time and cost effective means to data analysis, especially when compared to one on a larger scale, i.e. Census, involving the whole population. So long as the sample selection address’s the right demographic to target a generalised market that you want to seek an answer to (Lenth, 2001).  Fundamental aspects of sampling are size determination and targeting the right group of consumers; was it adequate to survey only teens, mums and men? Who is really represented in this selection panel and does it reflect the same group of consumers that Arnott’s Shapes are targeted at and promoted to? The sample group should be a reflection of the same segmentation that is targeted and promote to, except on a smaller scale.

Where to now?

The consumers asked for bigger, bolder and more flavours and Arnott’s have delivered by now baking their biscuits with “flavour on both sides as well as baked into the biscuit” as advertised on the pack.  So technically, the aim of the market research has been met; however new improvements to an original design should come with improved sales revenue. Undoubtedly, people will continue to buy Arnott’s Shapes as an Aussie favourite brand however as demonstrated by close friends who are Arnott’s Shape lovers, they simply are not purchased in the same quantity as the ‘original’ flavours were.



Reference: (2016). Arnott’s crunched over new Shapes flavours. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Aug. 2016] (2016). Shapes. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Aug. 2016]

Keegan, S. (2009). Qualitative research. London: Kogan (2016). Population clock. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Aug. 2016]

Lenth, R. (2001). Some Practical Guidelines for Effective Sample Size Determination. The American Statistician, 55(3), pp.187-193.


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