I don’t always consume chocolate because of taste. There, I said it. I buy chocolate to reward myself, to get to my happy place, to treat me to work harder, to act as an intermittent meal and sometimes simply because of how what they remind me of.
Home. Childhood. Happy places.
I grew up with a certain purple, a cursive C and 1-and-half glasses of milk… in other words, Cadbury’s brand elements. And to this day, I catch myself in the candy aisle reaching out for this non-gourmet, less-tasty, inexpensive slab of childhood. What I am talking about here is the process-of-truth, which starts way before and extends hours after the moment of truth at the aisle… and my hope for all-that-is-greed-friendly is: let the product at the end of the process be true to its expectations. No less, no more. Just right, so the process flows smooth into another purchase.
Food marketers out there grazing on blog posts to understand consumer sentiment, I’m only one data point but let me give you my opinion anyway.
Let’s talk about the recent reformulation of Ferrero Rondnoir.
Chocolate almond combinations are just great, time-proven, chemistry-proven and sensory-proven. But some Rondnoir fans will disagree. A small preview into their mind: before your precious moment of truth at the aisle, these fans have subconsciously (and consciously) gone over and over the crunch, the melt and the last bite of that dark chocolate (the process). And then they come to the grocery store and with varying degrees of deliberation, reach out for your SKU. In their mind it’s of course not just a packet with a UPC, it’s how they are going to spend their next few hours, more thoughts of crunch-melt-bite and finally something in their kitchen or coffee table, they will keep reaching out for (also the process).
Now for these people, once you have introduced your magic almonds, you woke them up from their quasi-conscious dream. Now either they will consciously chew (on it) then discern what they like or didn’t like about the new flavor or they will discard it altogether— very subtly. On your end this means a whole new unpredictable and uncontrolled cycle of repurchases. Do you really want it?
Maybe you have done your homework and you found that this taste was so brilliantly addictive, that you will have people converted in no time and newer customers will follow suit, cannibalizing some of your Rocher crowds. Or maybe you didn’t even consider that your enhancement is completely opposed to what chocolate stands for. You have probably ruined the process– the process of truth– which is often more enjoyable than the treat itself; remember it is not the moment but the process of truth which promises you the certainty of repurchases. In a way, you have let down your most loyal customers.
Let’s hope that the enhancements will stand the test of time and will weave longings and hopes of its own, streaming people to the aisle.
Ps: Trust the connoisseur aka food scientist on how much the chemistry (in the mouth and the brain) would alter when almonds come into the dark chocolate picture.
PPS: remember the ‘New Coke’ experiment / fiasco?