August 6, 2006
Thanks for passing that on! I recently participated in some chocoalte festivals here where chocolatiers display and sell their goods. As a relatively new chocolatier I found this an interesting experiene. As someone quite involved in the chocoalte world I discovered that the general public out there is basically an uneducated one chocolate-wise. There is a generalconcept that Belgium chocolate is tops. People would come by and ask for some delicious Belgium chocolate. Now I use mostly Valrhona and mostly Manjari and Guanaja. I think Manjari is outstanding and complex... But of course I try to pair up the chocolate with the ganache etc. The public are unaware of the fine nuances in pairing up ganache to chocolate, of different types of chocolate... Some would say things like "I only eat 70% Belgium-what do you have along that line?"
Where do you begin? Do you explain something? Do you just give them a 70%? I mainly gave short explanations which were rather unconvincing to them I think. The Academy of CHocolate is informative for us but what about our customers? I pay more than double for Valrhona and then the customers want Callebaut!!
October 13, 2009
Originally posted by masur
Result from The Academy of Chocolate Awards 2008:
The event is gaining in significance with each passing year. This year the volume of submissions was staggering, a very promising sign. I also think it's commendable, that in addition to experienced chocolate tasters, the judges included many whose exposure to chocolate was relatively casual. This prevents the awards from becoming too much of an elitist affair.
The number of judges as well as the cross-section of chocolates makes it possible also to give an analysis of actual taste preferences in light of real experience. Scanning the lists, here's what is clear.
1) There is a strong if not overwhelming preference for spicy flavours - things that are piquant or acid in one sense or another. Mellow, smooth chocolates do not seem to have done as well overall. To use a musical analogy, people prefer lots of treble, high-strung sopranos, and little bass.
2) A corollary in some ways of that is that flatness in finish is deadly. No matter what the initial impression, if the flavour tapers off or becomes monotonic, it will instantly be massively derated. That's an important consideration, because it means dark roasting will be inherently risky in terms of popular appeal.
3) When it comes to bars, texture is virtually insignificant - a chocolate with poor texture will be forgiven if its flavour is magnificent. But with filled chocolates the reverse applies: texture is paramount, and of greater importance (far greater) than flavour. What is demanded in a filled chocolate is one with a very thin, crisp outer shell and a hyperfluid centre that melts instantly and with no resistance on the palate. When this is achieved, the flavour can approach the immaterial. Any deviation from this, by contrast, brings about instant criticism. Once over that hurdle, yes, flavour matters, but only as a consideration after textural perfection has been achieved.
4) With filled chocolates, again, when it comes to flavour, the preference is for somewhat subdued but highly characteristic taste. It's desirable to taste of something definite, but strong, bold chocolates are generally found to be overwhelming. Part of this, however, may simply be the effect of texture; inevitably achieving that perfect textural composition mutes flavour to some degree.
5) Noticeable sweetness, in any form, in any chocolate item, is almost inevitably fatal. This makes it difficult for milk chocolate to succeed unless balanced by something with a bitter edge (although note the spectacular exception of the Amedei hazelnut milk chocolate)
Some interesting side observations:
Apparently a lot of the tasters just happen not to like mint very much. Mint flavoured chocolates are conspicuously near-absent from the table of winners. Nuts, also, don't seem to have done well as flavouring overall. In the filled chocolates, it may be because they compromise that fluid texture. Again, the Amedei exception in the bar chocolates is notable.
Organic submissions are trying hard but are not there yet. Part of this may be who submitted: Pralus didn't enter AFAIK, and their new organics are a good deal better than most of the rest. Domori unfortunately seems to have exited the market There seems to be an impression among current organic manufacturers that the demand is for very earthy, rustic chocolate. At least among the discerning public, this is not the case.
Well that is excellent that it is not an elitist affair!
1. We have to catch up to this spicy trend. People still are shocked when offered a "spicy" bonbon.This isodd as most of the food is is piquanty. But these aren't associated yetwith chocolate. I suppose it will happen sooner or later.
2. I agree texture is crucial, but I think here, taste is also. If it is a passion fruit ganache then that should be rather obvious in a gentle way-not a whack in the face!
3.Bars and bark are less in demand here. Mint is also not popular although many people do like those after eights. I can't even remember what the look like inside or how they taste.
4. We need a more discerning public. Belgium chocolate is still considered gold!!!
Thanks so much for sharing information-it is very interesting to see it from "foreign" eyes!
October 13, 2009
Originally posted by Ilana
... There is a generalconcept that Belgium chocolate is tops. People would come by and ask for some delicious Belgium chocolate.
Yes, Callebaut has done a very good marketing job and product positioned extremely cleverly. If customers are actually using the exact words above, though, i.e. "delicious Belgium chocolate" or "delicious Belgian chocolate" then they are self-evidently parroting advertising they've seen. It's the "delicious" in there that would give it away. In ordinary speech a person wouldn't add a qualitative like that to a request.
Now I use mostly Valrhona... Some would say things like "I only eat 70% Belgium-what do you have along that line?"
Where do you begin? Do you explain something? Do you just give them a 70%? I mainly gave short explanations which were rather unconvincing to them I think.
They were unconvincing because the customers have had the message drummed into them that Belgian is automatically the best. So they take that as common knowledge. As a result, when you try to say anything different, rather than sounding like a knowledgeable explanation, it, ironically, sounds like a slick sales pitch of someone trying to make excuses for why they *don't* use Belgian chocolate, one that the public will take as a ploy to lure them into buying something actually made with a cheaper product.
Product positioning is very, very difficult to beat, which is what makes it one of the very most effective marketing tactics, for once you've established a position you insinuate yourself into the mind of the customer in a way that's hard to unseat. That's what makes Callebaut's strategy so effective.
What, then, do you do? Sample. Not your finished products, but rather, the base couverture. Have Callebaut on one side, yours (i.e. Valrhona) on the other. It's most convincing if you can have a broad cross-section of Callebaut's range, but definitely get the 7030, because it's the one that sticks in most peoples' minds. Never call it Callebaut, though, not until after they've tasted it. Call it "Belgian". Then have them try a good Valrhona, e.g. Guanaja. Only after they've tried, then you can go into your educational spiel. The A/B test is far and away the most convincing to the general public, and besides, the appeal of free samples is universal and will bring business your way no matter what.
Wonderful idea! I did give away samples of Valrhona-Guanaja, and Tanariva and Ivoire. However, there was no Callebaut to taste so no comparisons could be made! I will try it next time. Yes, I felt like I was giving a sales pitch and I really did not like that!!! People certainly asked for some good Belgium chocolates or for some delicious B.C. One lady even came up and said "Put some good 70% Belgium chocolates in a box for us to have with coffee after dinner"
It was quite annoying. Well I will try your idea at the end of March at a wine festival Iwill be at, and I will post the results of the tasting!!
Thanks ever so much!
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