Ah, the good life!
When you wake up in the morning and head to the best job in the world. Immersed in the smell of chocolate, you deliver the best food of all. Your friends envy you. Making chocolate must be so much fun! And with all those chocolate bars selling for $10 a piece, you will soon become rich and buy a second house.
Except that reality is all another story.
Chocolate makers that have a business on their own work a minimum of 10-12 hours a day. Chemistry, biology, engineering and cooking are only some of the skills required to turn cocoa beans into finished chocolate bars. And they don’t find the raw material at the supermarket.
Their main ingredient grows in exotic countries and they have to find ways to get it. Uncertainty and scams reign along the journey. Moreover: machines break all the time; achieving a good flavor is damn hard; packaging is a lot of money; labeling requirements suck the life out of you.
Discouraged yet? We haven’t even talked about the biggest challenge of all.
In all of this, chocolate makers still have to convince consumers to spend a few extra bucks for their creations. Since most of them come from $1 Hershey’s bar, the amount of explaining and educating is immense. But the difference in price has to be justified. So here come factory tours, educational sessions, pages of info on their website, persuading words on the packaging and the like.
It’s almost as exhausting as making chocolate.
Forgot to mention. The expenses of making chocolate are ridiculously high compared to its profits. $10 a bar doesn’t mean that chocolate makers want to become millionaires. Making good chocolate is just THAT expensive. Between machines, importing beans, packaging and retail margins, there isn’t much left at the end of the day.
So why do consumers complain all the time about the price of craft chocolate?
Here are 4 major reasons:
1) They have no idea what goes on behind the scenes.
It’s human nature. When something doesn’t interest us, we don’t make any effort to know more about it. So it happens that consumers still hold tight to a Willy Wonka scenario without wondering any further. Left alone chocolate production, they don’t even know how the cacao tree looks like.
Consumers have no clue about the amount of people needed to bring fine cacao to their palates. The risks, the investments, the strategies, the long supply chain. Only after some deep research and educational events they can truly understand what it takes to make great chocolate.
The efforts of chocolate makers in educating their audience are not in vain. They are in fact the key to a higher appreciation.
2) They have never tried craft chocolate.
It’s like a spell. Once you try the good stuff, you can’t go back to the same old. Sure, you can lower your standards again. But you can’t forget the feeling of trying the best. This is especially true for chocolate.
Those who have tried craft chocolate can easily tell the difference from mass-produced chocolate. The gap of quality is clear and the higher price is not questioned. The problem is taking the first step.
Who has never bitten into some bean-to-bar chocolate made by the hands of expert artisans is prone to labeling craft chocolate as “too expensive”. The challenge for chocolate makers is to get consumers to have that very first bite and say: “Now I understand the price tag”.
3) They believe the marketing of big manufacturers.
In 2017, quality is a priority for consumers. Even those with a limited budget will still pay attention to what ends up in their shopping cards. Because of their concerns regarding health and traceability, chocolate lovers became willing to spend time reading labels and asking questions. Therefore, big chocolate manufacturers stepped up their marketing game.
From vocabulary strategies to expensive certifications, large corporations started to sound transparent and reliable. As a consequence, the mind of consumers erroneously narrowed the quality gap between mass-produced chocolate and craft chocolate.
It doesn’t surprise that consumers are not willing to spend $10 on a chocolate bar. They got fooled into believing that they can still get a quality product at a more reasonable price.
4) They are missing the comparison with other fine foods.
Whoever complains about the price of craft chocolate has probably forgotten about that expensive bottle of wine kept in the house waiting for special occasions. Nobody argues about $100 for a bottle of wine. It must sure deserve its price tag. So why is it unthinkable for chocolate?
The problem is that wine has always benefit from an aura of “glamorous” and “classy” around it. Chocolate has had that reputation before, until Milton Hershey started to mass-produce it in the 19th century.
If consumers truly did their math, they would realize how affordable craft chocolate is. The best of other fine foods can’t probably be bought with a budget of $20. With chocolate, it is possible. Anybody can step in a craft chocolate store and get out with something. This can’t be said for other fine foods.
If consumers stepped into the world of craft chocolate and cared to learn more about it, their judgement on the price tag would change immediately.
What do YOU think of the price of craft chocolate?
I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.