February 13, 2006
Is marketing premium chocolate all about provenance and authenticity? Consumers can be shown images of chocolatiers in white coats for brands ranging from Valrhona to Lindt, yet who is the best?. Who are non-experts supposed to believe?
Some chocolate brands seem to build their own myths using advertising – why did everyone fall for the Ambassadors Party without any provenance or quality credentials?
September 30, 2004
I’d believe no one other than myself (actually, yourself..). Ultimately, you like what you like. It’s the same as everything else – marketing will do their best to create a buzz for a product, and scarcity creates value. At the end of the day if you’re paying $100/lb for a product that you don’t like, you’re not going to get much value out of it. However, if that $100 buys you something you can’t get anywhere else, you may see very good value in that. In my opinion there are far more bad chocolates in pretty labels than there are good chocolates in pretty labels – but again, it’s not a given that you’re going to like what I like, and vice versa. The final judgement rests squarely with you
August 1, 2006
Exactly. The chocolate business is just like any other business, and these people are first and foremost trying to win you over with marketing ploys. If Chocolatier A gets your money instead of Chocolatier B, then A is happy as a clam. But B might try to improve their advertisements because it’s impossible to know what a product tastes like just by mere looks, so if they can hook you from the outset, then they’ve obviously done something right. But how do you make better judgments and assessments when bombarded with so many companies? Simple. Educate yourself and taste a lot. This way, you won’t be fooled by immaculate white coats, poetic embellishments, and fancy packaging.
January 10, 2006
Dave – If you start by defining what you personally mean by “best”, your task will become much easier.
For my money, the word “best” is the most shamelessly over-used and abused word in the chocolate industry. Hence, if you as a consumer start out by looking for “the best”, then you’re asking to be deceived. For example, it’s unusual for a chocolate manufacturer NOT to claim that they use “the best beans” (even Cadbury has the chutzpah to make this claim).
I have a theory that this heavy reliance on the word “best” is a strong indicator of the chocolate industry’s relative immaturity. My theory is that most consumers still don’t have the knowledge or confidence to choose the best chocolate for themselves based on meaningful information (things like bean source, processing techniques, ingredients, or flavour profile), so instead they allow themselves to be unduly influenced by meaningless marketing adjectives.
By the way, what was the Ambassadors Party?
February 13, 2006
Sounds a lot like perfume, except you can’t spray a little bit of chocolate on your wrist!! I am bombarded with claims about heritage, quality of ingredients, the most experienced chocolatiers, the most creative presentations, but what I hearing you saying is just get in a room with every chocolate available and try them until you find the one that your palate enjoys.
But even then, I guess it is like wine – different moods and times of day will effect your desire and your palate. So surely like wine and perfume the marketing should suggest the most appropriate situations you can enjoy the product in – when with friends, when one your own in front of the TV, etc. What do you think?
February 13, 2006
March 17, 2005
Definitely I’d have different chocs handy for whatever mood (or health state) will take over me. So little time, so much chocolate!
And absolutely agree here with Oz Choc, there’s huge room for education in chocolate. That’s how, I believe, this site started.
Baddies and all hidden truths have to come out eventually.
July 31, 2006
I think Father Ted did it best …
October 20, 2005
Another thought on the marketing of chocolate is the psychological side. I have read about two interesting points recently.
First, it is fairly well established that people will have a better perception of a product if it is well presented. As mentioned above, time will eventually weed out poor products, but the first impact can be important (as creatures of habit, the majority of us stick with what we like once found).
Second, I read about a research test where subjects “taste” of a product was influenced by the tester telling them beforehand what to expect (ie., a substance the subject had previously described as very bitter was suddenly less so when the tester said it would only be slightly bitter before it was tasted). From memory, different parts of the brain were actually being activated when a taste was done with prior warning compared to no prior warning. Maybe advertising and packaging serves as this “prior warning”?
August 1, 2006
I find that this is true as well. That’s why I hardly ever read the description from the packaging if I can avoid it. Also, I never ask people if they taste a certain flavor in a chocolate, but rather I simply request what they taste. This is also how many wine tastings are held…to avoid thought contamination and outside influence. If you enter a tasting knowing what to expect, then your mind will immediately pick out that certain characteristic and magnify the intensity. And that’s only because someone else suggested it. Power of suggestion? Probably.