I’m sure everyone will recognize the lyrics to this iconic song.
“I never thought my life could be anything but a catastrophe, but suddenly I begin to see a bit of good luck for me. ‘Cause I’ve got a golden ticket. I’ve got a golden twinkle in my eye. I never had a chance to shine. Never a happy song to sing, but suddenly half the world is mine. What an amazing thing!”
The Golden Ticket song sung enthusiastically by Charlie Bucket’s bedridden grandpa in Willy Wonka is actually the best way chocolate bars can market themselves to sell better. Consumers were asked what draws them to picking out a sweet treat and packaging goes a long way.
Scientists at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences find consumers are more apt to pick up that candy bar off the shelf if it features a gold foil wrapper, pretty packaging labels, and a prominent cause or celebrity featured on the front. Check out the full study here.
The focus group
To gain insight into what sells chocolate bars for the modern-day consumer food scientists ran a focus group to do some delicious digging into the physiological reasons why people favor Hershey bars over Lindt chocolates.
Here is what they found out with projective mapping to understand consumer trends.
Projective mapping called on participants to organize sweet treats into categories such as artisan chocolate, chocolate for special occasions, and Halloween fun-sized chocolate bars. After coming up with these groupings, the chocolate was separated into groups like mainstream, premium, and craft chocolate bars. Here is what scientists discovered about consumer trends when it came down to how Cathy’s daily kryptonite, (chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, ack!) and why they sold better in today’s market.
- All of the participants loved the samples since one consumer candidly added “it’s hard to make chocolate undesirable”
- However, consumers were drawn to the packaging on craft chocolate bars expressing the parallels to the craft wine, beer, coffee, and cider industry. They truly felt like they were indulging in something special specifically catered to them which helps sales.
- One consumer lauded the gold foil wrapping hugging his chocolate bar exclaiming his kid like nostalgia in “feeling like he won a golden ticket” like in the cult classic film watched by kids from every generation, Willy Wonka. Nostalgia goes a long way in piquing interest and releasing “feel-good” hormones that will lead to more sales since folks are participating in activities they enjoyed as a kid to boost their mood this year.
- Another big selling point is featuring a chocolate bar with proceeds that go to a good environmental cause. Usually, the candy bars that go towards preserving wildlife sell big and those that don’t trust where the proceeds go usually lean towards expensive chocolate with a great back story behind it.
Most folks are looking to help a good cause this year and don’t buy things blindly unless there is a purpose or joy driven reason behind purchasing the good itself.
It’s hard to mess up the recipe for something globally beloved like chocolate. The key to success and selling more of this staple for Americana is how appealing the package it’s dressed up in. That will set you apart from the competition these days.
Artisanal chocolate is a growing industry
Chocolate has some incredible benefits for our minds and bodies when enjoyed in moderation. This growing industry is competing alongside the craft wine and coffee industries and the possibilities for growth and marketing are exponential with a product everybody loves.
Allison Brown, the lead researcher for the study, outlines the upward trajectory of the booming market for artisanal and craft chocolate products in this brief recently.
“The U.S. craft chocolate market is estimated to be worth $100 million and growing. However, many companies are small startups with few employees. They do not have marketing teams to guide their brand strategies. Our findings will help them make decisions that could have a large impact on their businesses.”
Proper marketing strategies that keep all of the things in mind consumers love most about how chocolate is presented to them in stores can really aid in a new company’s growth.
One other co-author from the study conducted at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences Helene Hopfer adds, “Consumers picked up on the exclusive and specialty nature of these products. The findings highlight the importance of a story behind the product and show that consumers derive a purpose and joy from chocolate. We also determined the importance of availability, price and packaging as proxies for perceived chocolate quality.”
The key to selling anything these days is how the information is presented. Just like a candidate for an open position can be more qualified on the inside if you completely bomb the job interview or wear the wrong thing you probably won’t get a callback. Appearances can, in fact, be everything.