When Cannibals Eat Chocolate instead of. . . .

One of the most competitive markets ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH is the candy and chocolate market.  For years M&M’s only came in certain colors, but the competition has forced even Mars to become more competitive.

Yesterday I was in a large store and found an M&M bag.  I thought of how revolutionary this little purchase was.  When the Mars people realized that they not only sold chocolate, but that their brand was so powerful that people wanted their little chocolate people on their clothes, books, and yes . . . even backpacks and bags . . . a major change occurred.   They had to think outside of the chocolate “box”.  How far can you push your value?

Last month one of my sons got married.  While I was “out west” for that event my friend took me to the Amano Chocolate Company in Orem, Utah.  There I met Art Pollard.  Art travels the world in search of cocoa bean crops that are in hard to reach places, where a small batch of local grown beans will make luxurious chocolate unmatched by anyone else.  His award winning products entice with the siren song of sensual delight for the extremely discretionary palette.  (www.amanochocolate.com)

There is his Morobe bar from Papua, New Guinea (In the 70’s a “boss” told me he wouldn’t “send me to New Guinea to work because I was too big . . . and the cannibals would eat me.”  He was very serious when he said it.)

Art makes his Jembrana bar from the cocoa beans of the coasts of Bali, and the Ocumare bar from the high valleys of Venezuela, and a dark chocolate bar from the Sambirano Valley of Madagascar.  Each bar explodes with unique tastes, each with nuances and tasting notes.  Where one has hints of lime, blackberry, smoke and leather (the Morobe bar), his Chuao bar has notes of plums, blueberries, blackberries, molasses, coffee, and almonds.

Thank heavens for my friend Mitch Burton (who is a case study for how a single person can be an experience) who helped fund the orgy of chocolate, as each little 2 ounce bar sells for $10.00 each.

So whether it is a 2 ounce Hershey bar for 50 cents, or the elegant $10 Amano – Dos Rios bar from the Dominican Republic (with taste notes of bergamot, cinnamon, and clove) the fight to find a place in the mind of the customer is getting stiff and competitive.

Not only does your business have to create a great offering, but you now have to think about the experience.   These experiences are the M&M store on Times Square, or the smell of hand roasted beans in the Amano factory.

There are three Elements to an Experience.

  1. The Emotion (People-ize)
  2. The Engagement (Participation)
  3. The Entertainment (the Production)

Since chocolate engages the Emotion part of an experience, one’s appetites and passions, it is an easy building block for Hershey, Mars, or Amano to create an experience around.   But to truly create an experience a business person needs to engage the other two.  Godiva built around a Engagement factor in connection with their chocolate experience, as they appealed to a lush romance promise.  He can’t afford the diamonds, but he can ply her with Godiva gold.

Thanks to Mitch Burton and Art Pollard for their contribution to this post, as I have eaten about $5 worth of chocolate while you have read this.  It is a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Tune in next time as we further investigate how YOU can increase your sales, improve your leadership, make your employees more engaged, drive up word of mouth buzz by your customers . . . As YOU improve the Experience that is you, in the marketplace.

Watch for my introduction of The E Score (for Experience score), how to determine the value of your Experience.   This is cool stuff.

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