We live in a cruel world.
Craft chocolate makers put a lot of effort in their products. They source the best cocoa beans from around the world and they sharpen their skills to give consumers the best experience ever. But flavor holds zero importance on the shelf. In the battle between highly priced chocolate bars, aesthetics is almost all that matters.
When shopping for chocolate, the niche of craft chocolate aficionados knows what products are worth the price tags. They have tried many different brands and spent a good amount of money. Depending on their preferences, they know exactly what companies they should buy from. But the general public is not so picky when it comes to chocolate.
If for professionals “good chocolate” means flavorful, delicate and with a pleasant texture, “good chocolate” for a broader audience is simply a matter of overall enjoyment. Once the chocolate surpasses the standards of a Hershey Bar, the usual consumer is already content. So any bar priced between $7 and $12 x 2 oz manages to satisfy the average chocolate consumer pretty easily.
It’s not that the average consumer doesn’t taste the difference between chocolate bars with the same price, but let’s admit it: the different, subtle nuances in chocolate are only directed to a narrow audience of chocolate enthusiasts. Most chocolate consumers will describe a chocolate as “good”and “nice” without mentioning any other distinctive qualities.
Therefore, among chocolate bars with the same price tag and that are all “good and nice”, packaging comes to play a decisive role.
If a chocolate company wants to beat its competition and have an audience larger than a niche of chocolate obsessed, it needs to have an incredibly appealing packaging. And nowadays there are at least two practical reasons for this.
THE INCREASING POPULARITY OF CRAFT CHOCOLATE DISTRIBUTORS
Chocolate bars are in direct competition with one another, but not just theoretically.
A single shelf in a fine chocolate store can contain up to 10 different bars. Put side by side like in a beauty contest, consumers can easily compare them at first sight. If the packaging of a chocolate bar looks decent and acceptable on its own, it won’t stand a chance among professionally designed wrappers. The chocolate inside can be the most flavorful of all, but it runs the risk to remain a hidden treasure.
The only time when a chocolate bar is not compared to other brands is in the website of the producing company or in its own store. The problem is that, with the increasing popularity of fine/craft chocolate, distributors that carry many brands are becoming the preferred purchasing option for consumers. Here consumers can comfortably shop in one place and choose among a vast range of brands and flavors, a big convenience that they don’t get in a one-brand store or website.
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Either they are online like Cocoa Runners, pop-ups like Honeycreeper Chocolate or with a physical location like A Priori, the popularity of chocolate distributors is only meant to increase in the next years. This means that comparison will become the norm for chocolate bars, and packaging will play an increasingly crucial role in the decision-making process of consumers.
THE TERRIFIC IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
A company that is not betting on the power of Social Media in 2017 is meant to go bankrupt soon.
Consumers are on their phones 24/7, and Social Media are now their biggest source of inspiration for shopping. If there is a place where fine chocolate companies need to be, that is on Facebook, Instagram and all the other online platforms that grab the attention of millions of consumers.
We are all humans and we are attracted by beautiful things, but in the era of Social Media we also like to share beautiful things. Chocolate makers need to take this in high consideration when choosing the packaging of their products. Consumers like to play with photography, take pictures, share everything that happens in their lives, and especially the products they are enthusiastic about. And they want to do all this in the most aesthetically-pleasant way possible.
In simple words, nowadays chocolate bars need to be Instagram-worthy. They need to look good in pictures, be easy to photograph and able to grab the attention that users desire. If a company chooses a transparent or glossy packaging that reflects the light in a weird way or bland colors that don’t pop-up in pictures, that will be detrimental to the chocolate brand in the long run.
Consumers won’t share the picture of that chocolate bar simply because it doesn’t look good in pictures, and there will be no buzzword around the brand because of poor choices in regards to packaging.
Doesn’t this sound like a huge missed opportunity?
As silly as it seems, the truth is revealed in a simple scroll on Instagram under the hashtag #chocolate. The chocolate bars shown are always the same, both in the industrial and craft market. They have the most beautiful packaging, and online users love to photograph them. Even if a chocolate brand is new, if it has a well-designed packaging, it won’t take long to become popular online.
True, there are a lot of craft chocolate brands that don’t have a good-looking packaging, but are still very popular. That is because the word of mouth has spread about their amazing flavor, so consumers overlooked their unappealing packaging in favor of positive peer-reviews. But if chocolate companies wait for the word of mouth to spread instead of making a great first-impression, their success might be long awaited.
Chocolate makers already work hard enough to develop the best flavor possible in their products. However, in such a competitive market, the same care put in chocolate making should go into developing a great packaging as well. Because nobody wants to put a lot of effort in chocolate that will go unsold anyway, right?
Does packaging matter to YOU when shopping for 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.