Case Study: How We Overcame HFSS Restrictions on Amazon

Picture of Adam Hindle

Adam Hindle

Managing Director



Time to Read

4 Minutes

pile of sweeties

Q4 is the pinnacle quarter of the year for chocolate companies. But in 2022, many chocolate brands selling on Amazon faced one of the biggest challenges in years – their listings becoming non compliant for advertising due to HFSS restrictions (products that are high in fat, sugar or salt).

This was the case for Martin’s Chocolatier. The brand saw over 50% of their products becoming non-compliant for advertising over the quarter.

This led to a loss of visibility and customer discovery opportunities as advertising accounted for 46.6% of revenue in the previous quarter.

Martin’s also faced fierce competition for market share from leading household-name chocolate companies, along with a burgeoning community of chocolate sellers. Securing prominent positioning and maintaining competitiveness against these brands was essential.

So what did we do?

With a commitment to grow the brand, Martin’s embarked on a transformative journey, setting its sights on achieving an extraordinary 30% revenue growth for the UK marketplace in Q4 compared to the previous year.

Faced with the HFSS restrictions, the brand recognised the need to pivot its strategy and overhaul other areas of the business that would support our advertising activities.

To drive performance growth, we established 3 key objectives:

1. Improve Organic Pages

To improve the organic pages of their products on Amazon, we:

  • Used proven SEO techniques on product listings to increase our chances of getting click throughs and conversions from our advertising campaigns. An optimised product page would also help amplify brand visibility and increase our customer base
  • Conducted competitor analysis using Amazon’s Product Opportunity Explorer to identify top-performing products and optimise our listings for better organic visibility
  • Analysed the click share data within the “chocolate” niche, focusing on top performers like Lindt, Cadbury, Thorntons, and Nestle. This led to insights around the best performing competitor products that we could use as a benchmark for optimising our product titles
  • Incorporated USPs, key search phrases, and relevant information in the bullet points, and enriched our bestselling range with A+ content, similar to industry leaders such as Lindt and Cadbury
  • Included photos of the chocolate flavour cards in our A+ content

2. Store Visitor Increase

We sought to cultivate a 500% increase in Store visitors, recognising the immense potential for conversions within this highly engaged shopper segment. By creating an immersive and compelling shopping experience, we aimed to capture the hearts and wallets of discerning customers.

  • To maximise conversions on our Brand Store, we:
  • Studied competitor Brand Stores so we improved the shopper’s Store navigation experience
  • Strategically showcased our best selling products across different customer segments on the homepage, enhancing the visibility of our range
  • Streamlined the sub-pages and positioned the most popular products at the top, increasing the likelihood of conversions and enhancing the overall shopping experience.

3. Leverage All Campaign Types in Advertising

Despite the advertising limitations, we were determined to maximise coverage for the select products that could still be advertised.

In the years before we took over the account in 2022, the account had operated with a “set-it-and-forget-it” mentality, leading to suboptimal results. We identified a huge untapped potential in the brands marketing efforts. To that end, we:

  • Revamped Martin’s advertising approach by optimising key areas of the account, even within the confines of the advertising restrictions
  • Reviewed the selection of current advertised ASINs by analysing the Advertised ASIN report from the ad console and filled any product gaps
  • Leveraged Amazon’s Brand Analytics to incorporate popular search terms into our advertising campaigns to increase our product visibility

Additionally, in collaboration with the brand, we:

Launched new products in October—smaller versions of their larger bestselling signature chocolate boxes that were not approved under HFSS restrictions

Made further enhancements to the organic pages, focusing on improving click-through rates and conversion rates of the product pages.

So what were the results?

Our primary objective was to achieve a 30% YoY revenue growth for Q4.

Through strategic optimisations, we surpassed expectations, delivering:

  • An impressive 50% YoY revenue growth in Q4 2022 vs Q4 2021
  • Ad revenue rose by +478%, accounting for 40% of sales – a substantial increase from the previous year’s contribution of 10%
  • Impressions soared by 914% YoY while maintaining a conversion rate of over 10%
  • Store Visitors skyrocketed by 1,786%, which helped with sales and led to significant growth in New-To-Brand orders compared to Q4 2021

Is there hope for HFSS products on Amazon?

With growing concern among the chocolate industry about Amazon’s latest HFSS restrictions, we have seen several brands turn their marketing efforts onto other marketplaces and their own website over the last few months.

This is not a bad call, as it’s never a good idea to have all your eggs in one basket.

However, the numbers we have seen for Martin’s in Q4 last year show that there is hope for chocolate brands advertising on Amazon.

By pivoting to focus on product listings and brand stores, and improving coverage for any products still approved, there is still big growth to be achieved.

If you’ve been affected by HFSS or need help with growing your revenue on Amazon, get in touch with our team here.

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