Nutella Brand Analysis

A Snapshot of Brand Insights Derived From “Level Three” Social Listening

By Peter Murane
President, Brand VO2

Nutella® was created in the 1940s by the Italian confectioner, Pietro Ferrero, also the inventor of Ferrero Rocher, Tic Tacs, and other sweets. At the time, there was very little chocolate because cocoa was in short supply due to World War II rationing. So Mr. Ferrero used hazelnuts, which are plentiful in the Piedmont region of Italy, to extend the chocolate supply.

Today, Nutella is a global brand with sales in 75 countries.


Lots of people love Nutella – that much is certain. We conducted a month-long analysis of online conversations occurring in social media using our Level 3 brand knowledge platform, Brand VO2.

The Nutella brand has a strong and growing social following across channels like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Not surprisingly, the majority of online conversations revolve around sharing Nutella recipes and imaginative ways to enjoy the product.

The brand is behind some of this promotion but much of it occurs organically via word-of-mouth. In fact, who knew that every February 5th is World Nutella Day.

This unofficial international holiday was organized not by the company but by Nutella loyalists. The World Nutella Day website ( primarily serves as a hub where fans from around the world can share recipes with one-another. There are literally thousands of recipe submissions to choose from.

On the recipe front, one trend we see in our analysis is the popularization of Nutella as a baking and cooking ingredient. Increasingly, one can get their Nutella fix through a variety of creative recipes like sticky buns, crescent rolls, cream pie, banana bread – even Nutella mousse.


While the Nutella brand team targets “mom with kids” as its primary target audience for television media and creative strategy, our analysis also reveals the immense popularity of Nutella on college campuses.

To corroborate this insight, a February 2013 New York Times article reports that Columbia University students are, in fact, obsessed with Nutella.

Students are consuming up to 100 pounds of the product each day, costing Columbia Dining Services $5,000 a week since the brand’s introduction to the school’s dining halls. Worse, the Times reported some students allegedly stealing Nutella to feed their chocolate hazelnut habit during off-dining hours.

Targeting universities and colleges through guerilla marketing activities would seem to be an obvious marketing opportunity for the Nutella brand.

The mother was shocked to learn that Nutella contains 21 grams of sugar, 200 calories and 11 grams of fat (3.5 of which are saturated) per serving.


Within Nutella’s social footprint, there’s a running debate about the health profile of the product. We see three prevailing attitudes in the data:

– Nutella is yummy but unhealthy

– Who cares! It’s a treat

– Conflicted

Historically, Ferrero has promoted Nutella as part of a nutritious breakfast using taglines like “fuel the day”. But last year the company quietly adjusted many of its marketing claims and advertising strategies in wake of a class-action settlement where a judge awarded $3 million because a California woman claimed she fed her 4-year-old daughter Nutella after seeing advertisements that suggested the brand was part of a healthy breakfast.

The mother was shocked to learn that Nutella contains 21 grams of sugar, 200 calories and 11 grams of fat (3.5 of which are saturated) per serving.

The lawsuit hasn’t slowed Nutella’s sales growth. In fact, the suit has been met with some ridicule across the web by people who were surprised to learn that someone actually thought a chocolate-based spread could be construed as healthy.


More seriously, Nutella has been dogged by its use of palm oil, which gives the product its creamy texture. Unfortunately, the way palm oil is harvested requires millions of hectares of rain forest for palm plantations. In Borneo and Sumatra, this has threatened the extinction of the orangutan great ape.

In France, one of the company’s largest markets, the Ferrero Company was threatened with the “Nutella tax” in 2012. This was a proposed amendment in the French parliament and would have increased the tax on palm oil by 400%.

The amendment was defeated but some competitors turned the negative press into an opportunity. A hazelnut chocolate
spread by Casino brands named “I’m Hazel” began running comparative ads against Nutella. In the advertising below we see a jar of Nutella and a jar of the competitor brand highlighting the presence of palm oil in one and its absence in the other.

In the U.S. we see increasing sensitivity on the part of consumers to the palm oil topic. Below is a typical sentiment we found in social conversations:

Nutella… please stop using Palm oil. Palm oil is found in roughly half the products sold in grocery stores. Its production is now one of the leading causes of rainforest destruction worldwide. And the single biggest threat to orangutans. Our friends at Rainforest Action Network teamed up with Free Range Studios to produce this 2-minute video. The video is launching #The Last Stand of the Orangutan: The Power is in Your Palm# – a new national campaign to expose the U.S. snack food industry for putting Conflict Palm Oil into the food products we buy every day. Please watch and share widely! Watch the video Read more: Last Stand of the Orangutan | Rainforest Action Network:

Priscilla Garcia – 2013-10-15

Positively, Ferrero has listened to the consumer and announced the goal of using 100% sustainable palm oil by 2015.