LONDON: Britons are more likely to associate Easter with chocolate eggs than with a religious event, and when searching for them online, Cadbury is by far the preferred brand.

When researcher YouGov asked 2,670 UK adults, on 13 April 2017, what they associated with Easter, the son of God placed fourth, behind chocolate Easter eggs (76%), the Bank Holiday (67%) and, ironically given the symbolism behind them, hot cross buns (62%).

Just 55% of respondents associated Jesus with Easter, and that figure fell below half among younger age groups – to 44% of 18-24 year olds and 45% of 25-49 year olds.

However, even among the older age groups, people were still more likely to connect chocolate eggs and hot cross buns with the festival, an outlook that contrasts with that of prime minister Theresa May.

Almost two weeks ago, a few days after having triggered the process for the UK to leave the EU, the prime minister found time to voice her outrage – "absolutely ridiculous" – about a piece of co-branding by conservation organisation the National Trust and chocolate maker Cadbury.

The Trust had invited families to "enjoy Easter fun" and to "join the Cadbury egg hunt"; the prime minster and church leaders appeared exercised by exactly where the word "Easter" should appear. Cadbury pointed out that the word featured prominently and that the event was intended to appeal to non-Christians as well.

Cadbury is, of course, associated in the minds of many UK consumers with chocolate eggs. When search intelligence firm Captify analysed trends around Easter it found that two Cadbury products dominated chocolate egg searches: Crème Egg (29%) and Mini Egg (18%). Thorntons (14%) was in third place.

While this brand preference was not a surprise, Captify also reported a huge rise in searches for healthy (+1000%) and sugar-free (+850%) Easter eggs, a development it attributed to a growing demand for products based on specific dietary requirements and lifestyle choices.

The item on the YouGov list least associated with Easter was Simnel cake (14%), a fruit cake with layers of marzipan that is toasted and then eaten during the Easter period.

Data sourced from YouGov, Captify, The Guardian; additional content by WARC staff