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25 April 2021

Is it game over for Colin the Caterpillar?

Maria Soroka
The Battle of Caterpillar Cakes: M&S vs Aldi. We checked who won using the Fastuna Rank It solution
The best thing about battles 'gone viral' is the subject. On this occasion, it’s all down to a kids' cake. But on a commercial note, the Caterpillar Cake Battle is a serious indication of consumer insight. So Fastuna, thanks to our Rank It Solution, has made the battle commence. Interestingly, there is a clear market winner, and it looks like it could be game over for the longstanding number one spot of M&S' famous Colin the Caterpillar cake. That’s right, according to the UK consumers surveyed, Aldi’s Cuthbert the Caterpillar tops the chart. But why?
About the Battle
Marks and Spencer has lodged an intellectual property claim with the High Court, claiming Cuthbert looks far too similar to its Colin the Caterpillar cake [source]

M&S filed a High Court lawsuit against Aldi due to the similarities between Colin and Cuthbert. [source]

Aldi bit back via Twitter by exposing the lawsuit and creating a campaign that has gone viral. On Twitter, the conversation is divided between the unfairness of singling out Aldi when other supermarket chains produce similar style cakes and the savviness of the Aldi social media team for throwing a host of amusing tweets in the direction of M&S (with M&S struggling to throw anything as savvy back).

Of course, there is a fun element to this during a time when conversations are pretty much pandemic led. But the serious element is reading the room of a 2021 consumer. That's why we put all caterpillar style supermarket cakes to the test with our Fastuna Rank It  solution to understand the motivations for choosing one over the other.

Original Twitter post here

We asked ourselves, what do Brits actually think about it? Will they take sides? And if they had a choice, which cake would they choose?
What did we test?
7 Caterpillar Cakes by different supermarkets with prices:

Cuthbert from Aldi at £4.99
Clyde from Asda at £5.92
Colin from M&S at £7
Wiggles from Sainsbury's at £6
Calli from Tesco at £6
Charlie from Co-op £6.35
Cecil from Waitrose £7
Who did we target?
All 7 cake variants were shown to the national representative sample of British parents with kids between 0 to 14 y.o.
How was it tested?
We used the Rank It solution on the Fastuna platform. Online panel respondents were sent a survey link to their email. They were invited to rank 7 cakes and explain their choice in writing. We also added a bespoke question about their awareness and attitude to the Battle.
Money rules the world?
Well, we can clearly see that whatever it is, better price wins. Aldi's Culbert does take first place because it is… cheaper. Also, people believe that it won't be the difference in quality and Culbert will taste as great or even better vs. the rest.
It looks basically the same and is made from the same ingredients but is cheaper.
Male, 47
It looks just as good but cheaper.
Female, 54
The follower in second place, Asda’s Clyde also has an attractive price. However, Clyde’s creators at least made an effort for the cake to look different. And people do appreciate it.
I prefer ASDA to most plus it looked better for me and the price obviously.
Male, 31
Well, price does matter, we understand that. Any ethical concerns about Aldi’s way to copycating famous brands and their legendary products? Hold on to your seats, it will come a bit later in the report.

M&S fans showing their love and trust to Colin as it takes third place. It is, after all, the best birthday cake!
Looks the nicest, is from M&S so will probably taste the best too. Chocolate looks good.
Male, 41
For taste you cannot be better than this one.
Female, 39
Best birthday cake.
Male, 36
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Do Brits really care?
The majority of parents we interviewed do buy Caterpillar cakes and they’ve heard about the battle. Do they care about it at all? Well, there are a lot of comments that it is just silly and there should be no buzz about copycating the popular cake (as they all have become such a commodity).
After seeing how many of these types of cakes there are it seems a bit pointless.
Male, 51
I don’t really care about the battle. Each shop should be allowed to have their own cake.
Female, 46
Despite Colin’s heritage, some are not in favour of M&S and the law suite. People do believe that Caterpillar cakes became very generic.
It’s absolutely appalling on M&S that they could cause a law suit on another supermarket over a cake that many stores sell the same of!
Female, 37
I think it’s very silly as all the supermarket chains makes caterpillar cakes they all very the same. To me I don’t think they violating any copy right laws. It’s got a different name. Looks slightly different. I see no issue apart from stupidities.
Female, 36
However, there are some opinions supporting M&S but *sadly* only a few.
Think every branded cake should be unique and not copyrighted. Others should look different.
Male, 44
Obviously every company wants to sell more cakes and make money than the other so a battle to prove who has the best cake is important.
Male, 37
So: who wins the real Battle for consumers' hearts and pockets?

Caterpillar Cake invented by M&S has become a commodity. Whether you feel bad about it or not, that’s what happens with lots of legendary products. We understand the sentiment of loyal Brits and of the press about good old super yummy Colin [source].

However, an average consumer doesn’t really want to be involved in such a battle. Why? Because, frankly speaking, they don’t care. The price is good, the taste is good as well, 'they all look the same' - so who cares? Plus, Aldi played the ace card giving money they earned from Culbert to charity. At the end of the day, there are issues far more important than cake…
That at this time in a pandemic there are more important issues.
Female, 54
So in order to win consumer hearts, good reviews and their pockets, M&S possibly needs to build an alliance with other manufactures/retailers who suffer from copycating. Or is copycating is just a symptom that your brand or product has become a legend? We will leave you to decide for yourself.


At Fastuna, we collect unbiased opinions from the average consumers to show the diversity of opinions, especially in comparison to social networks where often those opinions are biased and not representative to the general public. Check out our www.fastuna.com/solutions that can help you to receive consumer feedback within just a couple of hours after you launched your survey.

Send email to Michaela to learn more: michaela@fastuna.com

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