The secrets behind creating Percy – the nation’s favourite pig
At M&S, we know that strong in-house brands are a vital differentiator for our business – helping us to stand out from the competition and giving customers another reason to shop with us. Building brands that create an emotional connection with customers is a key part of our strategy to make M&S more relevant, more often.
Nowhere does the power and popularity of M&S created brands come to life – than in the success of Percy Pig, who has gone from an experimental chewy sweet sold in a handful of stores to a national treasure with a large and loyal following. As Percy Pig Brand Marketing Manager, I am the guardian angel of Percy’s brand. My role is to protect the Percy Pig magic and to build his profile: creating opportunities to put him at the forefront of customers’ minds.
When I started at M&S, Percy Pig was treated as a successful product. Since we started treating him as a brand – giving him a story, a history, and a personality – sales of Percy Pig products have grown by more than 40% year-on-year.
Percy has had quite a journey since he was launched in 1992. He’s got married to the love of his life, Penny, travelled the world, and had piglets.
Last year was a big year for Percy. Between September and Christmas alone, we introduced 20 new Percy products. The most popular was the Plush Percy toy, of which we sold 10,000 in just a single day in the lead-up to Christmas. We’re building on that momentum and launched our biggest ever Percy Pig Easter range this March, including greeting cards, a 1kg jar of Percy Pig sweets and his rabbit friends and a Percy Pig plush soft toy with bunny ears.
When deciding what we want to launch under the Percy Pig brand, it always pays to go back to basics. We think about what makes Percy unique: the shape of his face, his texture, his colour, and his distinctive flavour. It is these elements that I try to bring into every piece of innovation we launch. My role involves working with product development team to try out every single Percy product before it launches. That means I spend a lot of my time testing everything from muffins, sauce and chocolate to bed sheets, lip gloss and bath fizzers. My house is a homage to Percy, with Percy products in every single room as my collection of new products grows.
Protecting the integrity of the Percy Pig brand is so important: he is a pig for everyone. I describe myself as Percy’s agent within M&S and that means sometimes having to decide that an opportunity isn’t right for the brand. My job is to ensure that Percy is a magnetic brand that draws people in.
Maintaining Percy’s star is a big responsibility. He is the most famous M&S brand and has a very loyal following. That is especially true since we brought Percy to life on social media last year. Percy has long had an organic following on social media, but last year we launched his official Instagram account, and he made his debut on TikTok. Interacting with Percy’s fans on social media allows us to connect with even more customers and carry on the conversation even after they’ve left the store.
As we continue to transform our business, building on the success of our strong own brands will allow us to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the market. And it’s not just Percy – sitting alongside him are other famous M&S brands such as Plant Kitchen, Our Best Ever, Colin the Caterpillar, and the newest addition to the M&S Family: The Ombles.
Top Percy Pig facts:
- M&S sells 16 million packets (over 400 million individual Percy sweets) every year – equivalent to 10 sweets every second.
- There are currently 13 members of the Percy Pig family.
- Percy Pig is completely vegetarian-friendly, so not only are the original Veggie Percy sweets – with green ears – gelatine-free, the whole range is. That means even more people can enjoy Percy Pig sweets.