The Growth of 'Masstige' Chocolates  9/4/2015

For many years, the chocolate market has, in fact, been two totally separate markets – low priced candies for kids (and adults), and serious gourmet chocolates. Mass market chocolates – think Hershey Bars, Snickers, M&Ms and Nestle Crunch Bars – typically are sold individually at the check stand (for about $1) and in various multi-packs on the store shelves, selling for between $3 and $6. Packaging is typically either very basic (a wrapper) or an elaborate novelty for a holiday (candy canes, Easter eggs, etc.) These products are typically sold in food, drug, mass and convenience stores.

Gourmet chocolates, on the other hand, are sold at radically higher price points – bars starting at $3 and headed way up from there, all the way to gift boxes selling for $50 and up. Gourmet chocolates are all about the taste experience. They are aimed at sophisticated adults, not kids. They are not an “impulse item” but are expected to be considered seriously. And they are typically sold at gourmet retailers and dedicated chocolate shops. Some gourmet chocolates are sold primarily in their own stores or dedicated sections in mass retailers (Godiva), while some are sold primarily in gourmet stores (Lindt, Ghirardelli).

But over the last few years these two markets have gradually been merging. Toblerone, since being purchased by Kraft about 20 years ago, has significantly expanded distribution into a variety of stores. CVS and Walgreen’s have each created small gourmet chocolate sections featuring a variety of upscale chocolate brands, and mass manufacturers have introduced gourmet lines, like Hershey’s Brookside line, which look like gourmet chocolates, but are stocked with regular candy and priced halfway between mass market and gourmet. Finally, some retailers are even developing middle market private label lines, like Duane Reade/Walgreen’s Delish line, priced below Brookside but above all of the other mass candy brands.

Indeed, these new brands are following the “masstige” trend we are seeing in beauty products.

What this means for brands
So what does this all mean? It actually is important, because it represents an entirely new market, and a market that seems quite large and lucrative. Quality chocolate is no longer just for upscale shoppers at Bloomingdales and Godiva outlets. Quality chocolate is now a mainstream category, distinct from the classical mass chocolate market, and delivering products that consumers both value and are willing to pay for.

This middle market in chocolate is for real, and retailers and suppliers who ignore it are giving away sales and profits that they should be capitalizing upon.

You'll find many of these 'masstige' chocolates at ECRM's upcoming candy events:

David Diamond

David Diamond Associates

David Diamond is president of David Diamond Associates, a consultant to retailers, manufacturers and service providers to the food and CPG industries.He can be reached at (646) 742-1373

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