Corporate Eye

How to Make Your Brand Like Chocolate

chocolateThe numbers are in and chocolate sales are up, sometimes to record levels, with the economic downturn.  Each of the major chocolate manufacturers in the U.S. (and major Swiss chocolate companies) are reporting growth in 2009.  What does that tell us?  Two things:

  1. When consumers can’t afford luxury items like plasma TVs and new cars, they replace those luxuries with chocolate. (Okay, that one might be a stretch, but #2 is more important anyway).
  2. When times get tough, consumers don’t give up comfort items.  In fact, they buy more of them!

So that leads us to this question — how can you leverage consumer buying habits during a recession?

The answer is simple — make your brand like chocolate.

Now, you’re probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about.  Let me explain the underlying concept.  When times get tough, regardless of how people are doing financially, they seek out things that give them comfort and peace-of-mind.  Chocolate is a comfort food to many consumers.  It’s a small indulgence that brings pleasure and comfort at the same time.  It’s a winning combination during a recession.

So “how can you make your brand more like chocolate” simply means — how can you infuse comfort and peace-of-mind into your brand message?  This is certainly easier to do for some brands than it is for others.  In fact, you might have to think out-of-the box to come up with the right messages that truly speak to consumers’ emotional triggers of comfort and peace-of-mind amidst economic turmoil.

Some brands might follow the path to appeal to item #1 in the list above with messages that say something like, “You can’t afford a car right now, so why not treat yourself to [insert product here]?”  Others brands can follow the more effective path to appeal to item #2 in the list above with brand messages that says something like, “When the world gets crazy, you can always rely on [insert product here].”

What do you think?  How can you make your brand more like chocolate and truly speak to consumers’ needs during the economic chaos?

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
 
Comments

Great post. I’m not sure how to apply either option to my line of business (IT), other than to make similar to a utility and communicate to our customers something to the effect of “you can always count on us to serve you better”.

Rahul Rajgopal

A thought provoking post…although a little more explanation would have made it an even more interesting read….Susan i hope u read my comment and do something about this the next time around….really liked the comfort and peace-of-mind thingy….:)

Hi Rahul,

I’d be happy to write a follow up post. What areas were you looking for more explanation? I was hoping to get a conversation going with this post so readers could help each other spark some creative thinking, but I can certainly continue my original thought in another post. Just let me know what additional details you’re looking for.

I’m looking to start my own special chocolates brand/line, without owning my own manufacturering company. It’s very hard to find a company who will make what i want. I’m not into making my own, I really do not have the time nor the expertise in this area. Do you know of any resources and how will I start from just an idea of a product? Thank you so much Susan.

Hi Keima

This sounds like an interesting project!

There are two angles here: one is the making of the chocolate itself, and the other is business management.

We don’t have expertise in chocolate-making here at Corporate Eye (sadly), but I’ve found a couple of links that I think you’ll find helpful. Both are to forums which will probably contain people who can advise you: 70 per cent and The Chocolate Life. Certainly there is discussion of the business of chocolate on the first of these – and the second looks as though it is for all lovers of chocolate.

As for the business side, if you were here in the UK, I’d strongly suggest that you get in touch with your local business development agency / businesslink, who would be able to provide business advice for startups. But I think you’re in the US… I expect there is something similar, though I don’t know what it would be. This looks helpful: Small Business Administration. Would your local Chamber of Commerce be able to point you in the right direction?

How about teaming up with a trained chocolatier?

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