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Outlooking Part 4 – Chocolate

Wayne McMaster

21 November 2014

In an effort to stay ahead of the game, sometimes it pays to look beyond the borders of your own category for inspiration. This 'outlooking' forces us to look at things with a different perspective; so what if our premium high-end interior brand acted like a chocolate brand?

Lessons to take from Chocolate brand strategies

  1. Driven by a mission
  2. Names with meaning
  3. Positioning
  4. Story-telling
  5. Innovation
  6. Brand partnerships
  7. Outsourcing

Driven by a mission

Divine Chocolate is a company driven by a social mission: To grow a successful global farmer-owned chocolate company using the amazing power of chocolate to delight and engage, and bring people together to create dignified trading relations, thereby empowering producers and consumers. Has your company defined its purpose and mission?


Names with meaning

Craig and Jo named their chocolate company after the confectionary brands of their childhoods, called Callard and Browser, and Barker and Dobson. There is no Mr. Green and Mrs Black. Green symbolises their strict organic principles and black represents the intensity of their chocolate.

Green and Black's logo


Two specific audience groups were identified in Green and Black's brand strategy: time poor, food rich (young affluent urbanites) and everyday luxury (home counties mums). These were seen as offering the greatest potential because taste and quality were important for both groups. Positioning of any communications therefore focused on these two messages.


“Telling the story about our producers has been really crucial to building brand loyalty, is Divine's story:

Jo Fairley joint-founder of Green and Black's founding story:

And their Green & Black's Mayan Gold product story:


Product innovation is key to the multi billion pound chocolate industry, manufacturers continue to innovate around a number of flavors, both sweet and savory, and consumers are increasingly curious enough to give even the most outrageous flavors a try. Recent quirky and interesting new product launches have included beer and chocolate (as seen  in the Netherlands with Voor Jou! Real Belgian Chocolate Glasses of Beer), red wine and marzipan (as seen in Germany with MK Mark Chocolate with Red Wine Marzipan), smoked BBQ potato chips (as seen in Wild Ophelia Smokehouse BBQ Potato Chips Dark Chocolate Bar) and other fun products that demonstrate the extent to which chocolate serves as a great base for building and layering flavors.


Brand Partnerships

Green and Blacks developed brand partnerships focussing on a range of aspirational third parties, with bespoke activity tailored according to partner as in the following examples.

  • A marketing partnership with the sandwich chain Pret a Manger included selling mini 40g bars, the first ever co-branded product sold in its stores. In summer 2005 this relationship was extended to the sale of Green & Black's ice cream in jointly branded chilled cabinets.
  • The Eden Project is an international visitor attraction with a mission to 'promote the understanding and responsible management of the vital relationship between plants, people and resources leading to a sustainable future for all'. The chocolate was sampled and sold to visitors by virtue of its organic and ethical attributes.
  • Joint activity with Cockburn's Port to educate consumers on the complementary flavours of the brand's cherry bar and the port. This was supported by in-store sampling, point-of-sale support and press advertising.
  • Bespoke 40g bars are distributed to all of British Airways' first- and club-class customers.



The most successful chocolate companies could be purely marketing and Research & Development operations after outsourcing their production to industrial suppliers. The public won’t even have heard of the world’s largest chocolate producers, who will work behind the scenes to supply well-known brands. This is the case for Divine: it operates as a marketing and distribution company in the UK, sub-contracting the chocolate manufacture. The farmers supply cocoa, which is delivered to the chocolate factory in a traceable and sustainable supply chain, and receive a guaranteed Fairtrade price plus a social premium which the farmers invest in community improvements like drinking water, healthcare, and schools.


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