Wednesday, 18 May 2005

One man's chocolate...

To be honest, I rarely eat a lot of chocolate these days. I guess that's part of me trying to lead a healthier lifestyle. Or perhaps it was because one time I pigged out on a lot of chocolate and felt sick afterwards. Hmmm....either/or I hadn't really had a calling to eat chocolate for a while. I also confess that I hadn't been to a confectionary store in a while (I guess I, like most others, shop at supermarkets).

But it was upon recommendation (or maybe some strong marketing - who knows) that I was standing inside the chocolate store, requesting samples of the different types of chocolates that the
Chocolate Genie had to offer.

The assortment really stirred the imagination as well as the stomach. I sampled the Equadorian, Cinnamon, Chilli, Ginger, Dark, Milk Coffee, Lemon, Lime, Lemon Myrtle, Orange - and it definitely was a heck of a decision when it came down to choosing the ones I really liked. Some were really refreshing; some had a bit of a bite to them; some were downright unusual so they had the novelty factor working for them.

I tried to narrow my choices down to a few items which I really enjoyed, but I have to say, I really did like a lot of them! Of course I ended up buying a whopping 7 packets for myself and 5 packets as gifts (and departing with $50 - even after a 30% discount). That coming from someone who "rarely" eats chocolates.

Unfortunately, I learned from the shop attendant that they are closing down over the next 2-4 weeks (the owner has decided to retire at 66 years of age). To an extent, that would have fuelled some of those purchases as I would not be able to buy them in the future.

It's a shame to see a store like this will not be available any more. This got me thinking why a store with an award winning product would close down (and I'm sure that I am not the only one thinking that either).

For those who have actually been to the store, I would say the first few things which hit me were:
1) Location - being at the back of an shopping arcade in a residential area just did not allow it to get the visibility it deserved. Furthermore, with a major shopping centre in the next suburb, it was much more easily forgotten.
2) Packaging - the packaging definitely left something to be desired. Sure, the product is great, but part of it is self promotion. A well presented and unique box or bag will surely go a long way to ensuring that people will buy it or use it as gifts.
3) Marketing - how many people had even heard of this place? There is virtually no marketing outside local areas for this product. Also, the decor seemed dated and was not conducive to enticing a broad crowd to come and try the chocolates even if tasting was for free.
    There are a number of other factors working against the chocolate scene in that it is not perceived to be a health food and typically is complimentary around a normal meal in that it is really a eaten when relaxing. Now other chocolate stores have cropped up and really taken a foothold in the market.

    However, without trying to oversimplify the complexities and underestimating the difficulties in running a business, I do believe that there is a positive value proposition to be had with the store. I wonder if it will be rescued or reincarnated in some form or other? I hope it will.