Is organic chocolate the new hype in hedonic eating?

green and blacks organic

I’ve recently had the pleasure of working for the most delicious brand portfolio, not only in the UK, but dare I say it – Europe. Green & Black’s is an organic and fair-trade chocolate that has been around for more than 20 years. Being the first organic and fair-trade product in the UK would most definitely guarantee the brand a phenomenal market share, right? Wrong!

See, Green & Black’s, among other organic ready-made products on the market, put all their money in advertising exactly what they are – organic. All that, under the assumption that the British consumer cares about eating healthier, better quality products. Although that may be true in the case of organic fresh produce, where people more easily associate their lettuce, tomatoes or carrots with the notion of ‘healthier food’, was that the case for organic chocolate? This is precisely why Green & Black’s hired me – to find what the British Consumer associates with the word ‘organic’ in the current economic environment (post-recession) and how the brand can use that knowledge to re-position itself to a younger audience.

After shadowing company executives and senior-level managers for a while, I was ready to conduct my own research on the matter. I interviewed 19 individuals that fitted the narrow demographic and psychographic profile of the desired ‘new consumer’ and a very interesting picture started assembling. I will try to shortly paint it for you, as I do believe it accurately represents an idea of the modern organic consumer in the UK:

Demographic profile:

  •  Mainly female, middle age, with children or a significant other. Reasoning: This individual is the decision maker in the household, especially when it comes to food-related products.
  • Mid to high annual income and well educated (university and above). Reasoning: ‘Organic’ remains largely considered as a premium good and is often associated with higher than average pricing.

Psychographic Profile:

  • Adventurous, likes to try out new things. Reasoning: ‘Organic’ is still seen as an ‘avant-garde’ food alternative, where one has to get out of their established purchasing routines in order to consider consuming.
  • Is moderately susceptible to peer pressure. Reasoning: This consumer is willing to change their shopping habits if a friend recommends a product, but they have to personally believe that product will prove to be better than what they currently consume.

Now, all previously mentioned consumer profiling has to do with general organic purchases, where that consumer sees ‘organic’ as a healthier, free of chemicals food option, but often associated only to fresh produce. In order to unlock their potential regarding organic packaged food purchasing and specifically the brand I was representing, I had to dig a little deeper.  So I had to see how and why the average UK consumer eats chocolate. Previous conducted research, internal company documents, own findings and all that mambo jambo led to a ridiculously simple conclusion: People eat chocolate because it tastes good.  EUREKA! So where did the ‘organic’ part belong in that message?

Simple, yet genius. Women like to eat chocolate → they eat it, because it tastes good and it makes them feel good → they often justify buying chocolate, because they ‘deserve’ to treat themselves to it. Chocolate, therefore, is a purely hedonistic product and is meant to be enjoyed as such. However, after consuming it, there comes the guilt – why did I eat so much of it, this will make me fat, it’s unhealthy, etc. Let’s be honest, we’ve all been on that road. But if that chocolate is ‘organic’, that’s a different story. The post-consumption guilt is now eliminated.  Therefore, the reasoning is as follows: This is great-tasting chocolate, I deserve that chocolate + it’s organic, therefore it’s better for me and I should not feel guilty for buying and consuming it.

new campagin greem & blacks

* part of Green & Black’s new 2013 ‘This is not a chocolate bar’ advertising campaign  focusing on taste attributes

Sounds almost devious of us marketers to formulate such a message, doesn’t it? However, people will continue to buy chocolate and continue to feel guilty about it afterwards. Why not help them get rid of that guilt and actually treat them to a great quality chocolate made with nothing but fresh, organic ingredients? By simply re-focusing on taste attributes, rather than organic attributes, Green & Black’s was able to speak to that hedonistic hunger in every consumer and to toot their own horn with superior tasting chocolate. And I should know! When my consultancy work was done with, they sent me a box full of that stuff. The little girl within me was overwhelmed with joy, and no, I don’t regret eating every single one of them!

Till next time,

xo

Teddy T

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