How Did Brands Like Cadbury, M&S, Yorkshire Tea Help Consumers Fall In Love With Them?

Playing on nostalgia, showing personality, tackling social issues: How Cadbury, M&S,  Yorkshire Tea help consumers fall in love with them

Talkwalker – a leading consumer intelligence company – reveals the brands the UK fell in love with during the pandemic.


Talkwalker’s annual Brand Love Story report revealed that while some brands struggled to engage and stay relevant, other brands were able to turn a challenge into an opportunity by being a force for good and turning customers into advocates who genuinely love their brands. Talkwalker identified the key drivers underpinning a ‘loved brand’, identifying nostalgia, sponsorship, escapism, and social advocacy as the top qualities.

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As soon as the lockdown hit, conversations around remembering the past shot up from a baseline of around 13M mentions to 24.4M (+88%). The appeal of nostalgia marketing is clear. In hardship, people turn to the past and the moments of joy there for comfort. Some brands saw an opportunity to connect with consumers and used it to their advantage.

  • Cadbury: With 70.4K mentions per month for comfort food, it was a smart decision for them to revisit some of their all-time fan-favourite confectionaries like the once limited Orange Twirl or re-imagined Mini Eggs Easter egg (one of the brand’s most engaging stories of the year with 75.1K engagement). The nature of the product – well-loved and easy to buy – helped boost brand mentions, as people turned to favourite chocolates as personalised gifts, rewards or prizes.
  • Marks & Spencer: M&S also gained from the growth in comfort food with 2 product lines boosting love – Percy Pig and Colin the Caterpillar. In this case, employee advocacy was also big for boosting brand love. M&S decided to forego Boxing Day sales in 2020, to give their staff the day off. This action encouraged other UK brands to follow suit, with mentions of Boxing Day alongside Marks & Spencer generating 194.9K engagement.


For others, it was their long-standing sponsorship of football clubs that played a vital role in building brand love. Live events being restricted, people went online to watch and engage with matches, which boosted mentions and videos for clubs, this meant more visual mentions for them too.

  • Carlsberg: Liverpool were clear winners of the 19/20 season. This boosted fan sentiment for the team, which boosted fan sentiment for the brand.
    Carlsberg’s iconic strapline “if Carlsberg did…” has now ingratiated itself into UK banter – used when something is better than expected. 19.7% of brand mentions involved this phrase.
  • Vodafone also benefited from the rise in football mentions. As Manchester United’s shirt sponsor from 2000 to 2006, the brand was regularly included in historic mentions of the club, often boosted by a little bit of fan nostalgia. Over 28% of their engagement in the past year was related to football.

Escapism & Entertainment

With 41% of people reading more than before lockdown, escapism, entertainment and information quickly became a hot trend. Waterstones’ diverse range of Book of the Month selections, encouraged this growing audience of readers and led to a constant stream of mentions from authors, publishers and readers. Plus, as parents looked for activities for stuck at home kids that avoided screen time, books sprang to the rescue (7.9% of their mentions were related to children’s books).   

Entertainment is also a key factor for LEGO. With huge amounts of user-generated content, the brand stars in Talkwalker’s Brand Love Story for the 2nd year in a row! The creativity of the construction toy is central here. From celebrity recreations, birdfeeders, epic architecture, each user is free to be as imaginative as possible. LEGO nurtures this creativity, through their LEGO Ideas page, allowing consumers to potentially see their ideas released as official products. They gathered a whooping 376K mentions with 32.5% of them showing positive sentiment towards the brand.

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Personality & Addressing social issues

The last year saw the rise of a socially conscious generation and the impact that it has on society. Lifted by Gen Z and future Gen Alpha, consumers are more vocal than ever before. They engage with topics like mental health, sustainability, inclusivity, social justice and expect from brands that they take a stand on these matters. Consumers no longer see brands as faceless corporations, but more as personalities that they can interact with. Brands that didn’t shy away and sincerely addressed their audience’s concerns have quickly garnered love and attention.

  • IKEA’s Buy Back initiative stole the spotlight, generating significant engagement for the brand’s social media channels. This connects with a key consumer issue – protecting the environment for the future. Nearly 9% of all IKEA lockdown conversations involved sustainability. Demonstrating how important it is to consumers, and why they love IKEA when the brand tackles the issue.
  • Land Rover’s commitment to being an all-electric brand by 2025 was one of their biggest positive mention generators of the year (brand sentiment was 20 percentage points more positive when mentions involved all-electric: 35.5% vs 15.6%).
  • Waitrose is another brand where sustainability conversations are bringing in huge engagement from their audience, with the matter tackled in numerous ways. With the intent of reducing the brand’s plastic impact on the environment, they stopped the sale of children’s magazines that included disposable toys and stopped using glitter in their own brand Christmas products (the most positive sentiment key driver for the brand was Christmas, with 11.4% of all mentions).
  • Yorkshire Tea‘s personal social media presence was what made them loved. Their tweet in support of Black Lives Matter was their most engaging tweet during the lockdown, with over 100.6K engagement. The mix of user-interaction, banter and willingness to engage in topical issues is why the brand’s social media strategy worked so well. They focused less on brand promotion, and more about creating conversations and interactions – in an authentic, engaging format.

Taking a stand on important social issues, helps brands connect further with consumers.

UK’s top 10 most loved brands:
  1. Cadbury
  2. Carlsberg
  3. Marks & Spencer
  4. Waterstones
  5. LEGO
  6. IKEA
  7. Land Rover
  8. Waitrose
  9. Yorkshire Tea
  10. Vodafone

That’s just a sample of the world’s most loved brands. To discover more about the ones having global success, and how they’re doing it, download the full report below.

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