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Winning Sales Messages: The Battle of the Biscuits


A bag of chocolate and caramel biscuits
£million wins. VAT suddenly got exciting

The Battle of the Biscuits was laid bare recently in 1 of the hottest food segments of 2023 - snacking.


Business cases, as most senior managers will attest, need to hold water by presenting a logical or rational argument with strong supporting evidence including a financial forecast.


Winning Sales Messages

For us salespeople, business cases also need to add up on an emotional level too.


That’s the way the world of selling goes; you need to present a compelling case for the customer to buy - a crystal clear or winning sales message as I like to call it.


I recently read about a business case with a confused argument and that was the legal case of HMRC v United Biscuits - makers of my childhood favourite snacks, Jacobs cream crackers and Twiglets - although McVities' newest biscuit is called Blissful.


Size of the Prize

I use the expression "Size of the Prize" for getting to the very core of what you stand to win or lose? I found it really focuses customers' minds.


The prize in this case was whether VAT should apply to the Blissful biscuit. if McVities were to win their argument with HMRC, then Blissful would not be subject to VAT @20%, making them cheaper to buy for hard-pressed families plus generating £millions in extra sales for McVities.


Now, UK VAT rules are renowned for their byzantine complexity; it's not unusual for VAT cases to end up in court with a judge deciding the merits of an argument. Basically, essential snacks won't attract VAT, whereas luxury snacks will attract VAT.


Blissful - even the name conveys a luxurious snack.


Unsurprisingly, the judge found in HMRC‘s favour. The biscuit is partly covered by a layer of chocolate thereby constituting a luxury product and necessarily attracts VAT @20%.


My Take

You cannot, on the one hand argue your product is an essential snack and then give it a name which implies luxury. That is a confused message and confused messages practically guarantee trouble ahead.


Confused customers don't buy

Sound Familiar?

A woman and a man in deep thought
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