Profiterol vision: how chocolatiers are making you buy online

August 7, 2014

Profiterol vision: how chocolatiers are making you buy online

We all know its easy to sell chocolates in a supermarket or corner shop to those shopping and influenced by their current state of hunger and desire for a sweet something. But is it more difficult to capture these customers online?  Sure, you can still have those hunger pangs and need for a slab of chocolate when you sit in front of your computer, but does that translate to making an online purchase, or does it just make you head for the nearest vending machine?

In this blog post, I’ve looked at five boutique chocolate brands, who all have at least one high street shop in the UK, but also have transactional websites, to see how they are making consumers buy from them.


The brands:

  1. Godiva – 10 stores in the UK
  2. Hotel Chocolat – 73 stores in the UK
  3. Rococo Chocolates – 4 stores in the UK
  4. Artisan du Chocolat – 6 stores in the UK
  5. Iain Burnett, The Highland Chocolatier – 3 stores in the UK (all in Scotland)

Tis the season to sell chocolate?

Well, no in a word. Just take a look at the annual search trends around chocolate and chocolate terms below:

We buy chocolate in the winter months, for Christmas and for Valentines day, not when its hot outside. So how do our chocolate retailers cope from April to August when traditional demand is reduced? This blog post will discuss the tactics that luxury chocolate brands are attempting to use to draw in consumers over the summer months.

So what is the key to selling chocolate in the summer months?

Creating a need and providing a solution to the need

Consumers may not be looking for what you’re selling during the summer months, but that doesn’t mean they won’t buy. The cynical among us declare every February that Valentine’s Day was promoted by greetings card companies to profit from our feeling of obligation to buy a card for the occasion.

Of course this is a psychological trick as old as time but using this sentiment, chocolate retailers can promote an obligation towards events that occur in the summer, creating demand for their products in the same way as greetings card companies (may or may not) have done.

We can see in the image below that Hotel Chocolat has done just that on-site and in its email marketing campaign this July.

Hotel Chocolat responded to the lovely period of hot weather in the UK by convincing us that a bottle of cheap wine and a pack of Asda burgers buns is not a sufficient gift for your BBQ host these days!

Whilst browsing on HC’s site, you may also realise that you’ve forgotten to buy a card for your neighbour’s daughter, who’s just graduated from university. But oh! People buy nice chocolates for that these days do they? Oh okay, you’ll add one of those to your basket seeing as you’re already getting a gift for your BBQ hosts. Saves you going to the card shop!

So its fair to say that Hotel Chocolat has done a great job of creating the need for you to buy. Its summer promotions are timely and season-appropriate. Check out this email from 7th July for example:

Well timed, less than two weeks before most schools finish for summer, they’ve reminded you to buy gifts for your children’s teachers and they’ve used clever copy to remind you why teachers need rewarding. Plus a special offer for multi-buys. Winner!

Are the other brands doing this?

Well there are others who are creating a reason to buy, but they aren’t quite focusing on the ‘need’ bit enough in their promotions. Lets take a look:

Rococo – this is the email I received from Rococo on 18th July. While it did refer to ‘Summer Parties and Picnics’ it didn’t exactly draw me in with the product offering or copy. The best emails are those that do all the hard work for you and this one doesn’t. Fudge doesn’t exactly exude summer to me, so I’d need a little inspiration to link buying items from Rococo to a summer picnic or party.

Iain Burnett, The Highland Chocolatier – This brand does a good job of serving up some seasonal promotions in its email marketing. See its email below from 10th July, which provides tips on how to use its products in a summer setting. Whilst the brand has highlighted the opportunity to buy a ‘Thank You’ gift for someone, perhaps it should have directly attributed this to buying a gift for a teacher – taking out the hard work for the email recipient. It’s also unfortunate that the website itself doesn’t address the summer season, as the site has what I’d call quite a festive colour scheme.

And what of the other two brands? Well I didn’t receive any emails from Godiva over the period I investigated so I couldn’t comment on that, but I did receive this one from Artisan du Chocolat on one of the hottest days of the summer:


Thank god Godiva have acknowledged it’s Summer on their Instagram feed:

This seems to serve mainly to encourage consumers to visit Godiva stores to buy iced and fresh summer treats, which isn’t a bad thing. Godiva does have a small ‘summer’ selection on-site, but its very well hidden and doesn’t seem to be under much promotion, which is a shame.

So in terms of creating a need and selling a solution, Iain Burnett and Hotel Chocolat are doing the best this summer. It often comes as little surprise that the largest brand does things a lot better, but it seems that Hotel Chocolat are well and truly leaving the rest behind in this area.  Do you know of any other chocolate brands who are doing well in digital promotion over the summer months?

Main image courtesy of Lee McCoy

By Alexandra Johnson CRO Share:

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