Do you love chocolate? Here’s what confectionary taught me about branding

Do you love chocolate_ blog header

It seemed as if the Christmas decorations had barely been taken down before the Easter eggs appeared in the shops.  It will, finally, be Easter this weekend and we can celebrate this Christian festival by consuming vast quantities of chocolate and worshipping a giant rabbit.  Or something.

I find that my daily life brings me into regular contact with cheaper, mass marketed brands, particularly those designed to appeal to children.  The associated marketing campaigns focus on how well the product will appeal to children but also deals with parental (OK, usually maternal) concerns about the effects of eating too much sugar.  The packaging and advertising images are bright and colourful, often featuring an animated character.  The language used will be appropriately brisk, highlighting the child’s excitement about the product whilst also providing some health information, perhaps focusing on the milk content.  My children are still young enough that the effect of advertising is hard to gauge, but they are certainly hypnotised by the array of bright colours on the shelves when I take them to the shops.  The quality of the product inside is largely irrelevant to them.  Similarly, when products within this price bracket are marketed to adults the focus tends to be on humour, highlighting the benefits of having a snack (with the current Snickers ad being a notable example) or on the ‘naughtiness’ or otherwise of the treat.  We’re also beginning to see advertisers refer to the social or environmental advantages of their product.

The experience of chocolate shopping in the local supermarket was thrown into stark contrast when a friend presented me with a gift box from Cocoa Amore in Leicester.  Their chocolates are a thing of beauty, both in presentation and taste.  (Although FYI, if anyone else was thinking of buying me a box, I’m not a fan of peanut butter).  Their colour scheme is muted and tasteful and they don’t feel the need to shout.  The focus is on the quality of the ingredients and the expertise of the people who make the finished product.  Even if I hadn’t tasted them for myself, their marketing tells me that I won’t be feeding these to my children.

The language used is a key indicator of the type of product you’re dealing with.  Cheaper brands use a fast, lively voice which encourages you to get swept up in the imagery and humour of their marketing.  The luxury brands use words which sound beautiful and feel luscious when you say them.  You may not have tasted the chocolate yet, but the language is designed to reflect the ‘mouth feel’ of the finished product.

You may think, therefore, that I’m a fan of the luxury brand and not the child friendly chocolate.  You’d be wrong.  Actually, I love them both.  There’s nothing quite like a family pack of something sweet that we can all share in front of the TV during a wet weekend.

The point is, these brands understand their customers and who they are marketing to.  The artisan brands aren’t interested in selling to people who are looking for a quick sugar fix.  Their products are to be savoured by adults who appreciate the quality and who may even sign up for a chocolate making workshop to learn the techniques for themselves.  These are customers who have the time to seek out and visit a boutique style shop.  Equally, the mass market brands know that their main audience will either be children or busy adults.  The children want something bright, colourful and sweet and the adults are looking for a quick sugar fix that’s readily available on the way back to the office or on the school run.  I generally fall into the latter category so I consider myself lucky to have friends with good taste!

Which approach will suit your customers? Are you going for mass market appeal or high end luxury?

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