imageLast night I attended an interesting group discussion about chocolate, and Honest Chocolate in particular, at their Honest Chocolate Café on Wale Street. It demonstrated that the brand of artisanal chocolate has evolved in the four years since its launch, and that it cares enough to conduct market research to establish what chocolate lovers like and dislike about the brand.

Having received the invitation to attend whilst on holiday, I had not picked up that the event would be more than a chocolate and wine pairing. We had to document our demographic details, our chocolate purchasing habits, and source of information about the brand. Our group participants’ occupation was weighted to digital, but we all had a love for chocolate in common.

We were told by Honest Chocolate Marketing and Admin Assistant Cassidy Nydahl that the chocolate manufacturer is considering adding a roasted chocolate range to its raw chocolate range, due to the low melting point of the latter, making transportation of the chocolates more risky.

The Honest Chocolate slab range is as follows:

*   72% raw organic cocoa with nibs (pieces of crushed cacao beans).

*   72% raw organic cocoa and agave, with Maca root from Peru.

*   72% raw organic cocoa with cracked organic coffee beans and agave.

*  72% raw organic cocoa, agave, and Oryx Kalahari Desert Salt.

*  72% raw organic cocoa, agave, and sweet orange essence.

*   72% raw organic cocoa, agave, and Grains of Paradise, a spice pepper from Ghana.

*   88%  raw organic cocoa, and agave.

Each participant had a platter with three sets of chocolate at his/her seat.

image We were offered a glass of Winery of Good Hope Chenin Blanc, which was paired with Grains of Paradise. Cassidy told us that Honest Chocolate is low GI, organic, non-dairy, uses agave syrup as sweetener, and cares about the ethical treatment of its cocoa suppliers.

We were quizzed about our chocolate buying habits, and standing in a Woolworths queue at the tills seems a common impulse purchase place! Having to have it is a purchase motivator, and Honest Chocolate particularly is a popular gift, not only for its chocolate quality, but also unusual pack design, being illustrations done by Cape Town artists.

imageCompared to other slabs we evaluated, Honest Chocolate was the smallest slab, relatively more expensive at R50 for 60g. Chocolate must be in a house, like a cat, said one respondent! The De Villiers slabs sold at Woolworths were seen to be closest to Honest Chocolate in our discussion. Commercialized slabs, such as the 80% made by Nestlé, received a thumbs down. Lindt is often bought, but was not seen to be in the same league as artisanal chocolate.

A Gabriëlskloof Red blend 2012 was paired with the Honest Chocolate imagemint, an understated peppermint flavor compared to commercialized slabs. As an alternative we could pair it with a plain unflavored slab of 88% cocoa.

In focusing on Honest Chocolate, after segmenting a selection of chocolate slabs, I was in the minority in not liking the diversity and lack of consistency in the pack design. I commented that imagethe light background to the illustrations in many instances did not communicate the high cocoa content of the chocolates. Overall, the respondents associated Honest Chocolate with hand-made, ethical, local, artisanal, and beautiful packaging.

We finished off with a discussion about Social Media, and I commented that one rarely sees Tweets and Facebook posts about the imagebrand. Cassidy seemed surprised that I was on Social Media! It was interesting to hear that many are no longer charmed with Social Media, receiving too many Tweets, and Facebook manipulating the algorithm which influences the posts which we see, especially business pages which rarely feature if not sponsored!

Not only will the results be of interest to Honest Chocolate, but it was interesting to us as participants as well.

Honest Chocolate Café, 64 Wale Street, Cape Town.  Cell 0828293877/0827363889  www.honestchocolate.co.za Twitter: @HonestChocolate

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Tel (021) 433-2100, Twitter:@WhaleCottage  Facebook:  click here