Successes and challenges in the chocolate industry
October 20, 2005
I know of one choc company near me that opened recently and had someone stand out the front, dressed smartly with the white cotton gloves, handing out chocolates from a silver tray.
I think at the end of the day though, your approach needs to be tailored to the market you are trying to sell to. A cafe-type store trying to sell to university students probably wouldn't have had as much success with the approach above. However, the approach seemed to work quite well in the middle of the City with business people walking past during lunch breaks.
May 29, 2005
Try chasing some corporate business. Go to some offices, financial planners are a good start. Give them some samples and find out if they do any kind of client events... and go from there. Also knock on doors to corporations. I am currently promoting chocolate tasting presentations and am getting excellent responses. On Jan 30th I will do a presentation for an oil company. I have an investment company and some other oil companies lined up for later this year. Make sure you know your stuff and if the product is good it will sell. Ask your friends about their work places. Networking is very helpful. Call a tv station and tell them you are the new kid on the block and that they should interview you.
This is a good start. Good luck.
May 29, 2005
I do it as an entertainment event. For example, on Jan. 30th I will be doing the chocolate presentation. I will take about 15-20 minutes to do the presentation. I charge a very minimal expense. There will be about 54 -60 people present and I will charge $1.25/person for the tasting. Canadian $. I will have 3 pieces of dark, 2 pieces of white (because that is what I have in supply right now) and we will taste Criollo, Forestaro, and Arriba. The white will be deodorized vs non-deodorized. I may monkey with a new recipe and put the result in the box as well. My box will be a Valentines 150g box from Chocolat-Chocolat which will cost $1 Cdn. The presentation gets me in the door and allows me to softly sell my product without the audience even realizing it. It allows me to network and get corporate business. This company also wants me to fill a mug that they will handing out to each person with chocolates. This company contacted me after I did a tasting presentation last November. The big boss was at my Nov presentation and obviously enjoyed it and called me the very next morning to do the exact same presentation for his department.
Robert, if you look back at the strings, remember when I posted and was desparate for help in doing the chocolate tasting? That was Oct/Nov '06. November was my first tasting and the way I got the opportunity was that I worked for a financial planner and I networked with people in the industry...about chocolate. I said that I could come into their office if they are having a staff meeting and I could bring some fun into their workplace. I also dropped off samples to their office. What ended up happening is that a financial planner who does alot of client events for his clients remembered me and asked me to come do a tasting for his clients. So I did and there were about 170-200 people present. So, ask your friends about the offices they work in and if they are looking for some fun office events for employee moral. Get them to put a bug in the bosses ear, then drop by with samples and sell yourself as much as possible. I tell people how trendy and unique chocolate is and how it comes from different parts of the world..etc..
Farmers Market: Richhiuti (author of "chocolate obsession" got his start at the farmets market. If the market is high end then it is a good start. If is not high end, don't waste your time because a lower end market will only attract penny pinchers who cannot possibly understand why your chocolate costs what it does...heck.. a whole Hershey bar is less than a buck!!!You will only become discouraged with that kind of mentality!! Also, with a market you don't have to lock in a table rental for long periods of time. Good way of testing the market. I did craft shows one year and that was a waste of time.
Sounds great Deb,
Congratulations on landing the account. By the way, I have family in New Brunswick. Where in Canada are you?
May 29, 2005
December 4, 2006
I have been doing tastings that incorporate different chocolate samples with varying origins and cacao percentages. I usually end with two chocolates paired with a wine, a beer or a spirit. The last ones are chocolates I have made. I don't do more than 8 people for The tastings, and charge $10.00 per person. I give some background info on chocolate and bring some Fair trade issues into play. Its a fun educational experience and I sell a lot of chocolates from word-of-mouth from people who have done the tasting. I plan to incorporate this into my retail venue this year-will need a liquor license- but can be done at private parties as well though I don't think I'd want to do more than 25 people at a time.
I can definitely see how that would work. Our hosted tasting events have been great for us, once your guests try great chocolate there is no going back.
Anyone had any success with regional & national exposure?
May 29, 2005
My Jan 30th presentation went well. This group was a lot of fun. I had about 60 people which still makes for a large audience. I have another company that wants me to do a tasting presentation and we have booked it for Mar 1. This group is about 21 people, so it is much smaller that what I have done. I would love to have what HawaiiChocolate has mentioned...small groups for a more intimate session. The door has swung wide open for me to go into these companies to present, so I won't say no as it is good corporate business and relationships that I am developing.
I suggest joining a networking/marketing organization because you will make tons of valuable business contacts face-to-face and through word of mouth. Members of the group are often commited to doing business with other members only. I just joined eWomen Network (www.ewomennetwork.com) and I'm loving it.
Also, you're bound to drum up business locally if you get involved in the community. I'm teaching a few classes this fall through the local community ed program (www.marinlearn.com). They do all the pr for you by featuring you in their class catalogue. It's fun, easy, profitable, and it circulates that priceless word-of-mouth advertising.
I am fascinated by chocolate, from its origin to its production.
November 17, 2005
I second Xocomalena's comment about joining a networking group. You will at least get as many new customers as you meet at the group. And when you hand out your business card, make sure you had each person two or three to pass along (they are cheep at http://www.vistaprint.com).
I only ran one print based advertisement during our 2 years and got zero responses from it. It was targeted at brides for wedding favors and party platters.
Our best outlet for retail sales was holiday craft fairs. I would dress in a dark suit with white butlers gloves and hand out samples while my wife would finish the sale. We did some tests because we were spending a lot of money on samples. We would average about $300 in sales a day without samples and over $1000 a day with. That was giving out about $30-$40 worth of samples in a day.
We also did wholesale. The best places were florist and kitchen/gourmet shops.
Hope that helps.
March 26, 2008
I have just set up a new online chocolate company, No Nuts...just Chocolate at http://www.nonutsjustchocolate.com and will be attending the Allergy & Gluten-Free Show in London in June. As I have never done anything like this before, I would be very grateful for any advise regarding stand presentation, where to buy good product display items, volumes of sales to expect, what type of leaflets etc. work well at these type of events - anything really!
Many thanks, Sam.
Dr S. L. Thompson
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