If you never gave a box of dark chocolates and thought they meant, “I appreciate your independent spirit and hope I can become a partner worthy of your trust,” you may be headed to chocolate-giving school.
In China, a fierce effort to introduce chocolate into the gift-giving culture is leading branding experts to host exhibits and publish brochures explaining the special significance of chocolate gifts – in ways that may have never been done before. “The chocolate market is in its infancy and it’s still there even 30 years,” said Lawrence Allen, author of the book Chocolate Fortunes: The Battle For The Hearts, Minds And Wallets Of Chinese Consumers.
Allen believes the delay is due in part to the country’s sequestration 30 years ago, but also because the taste has been totally foreign to Chinese palates.
The average Chinese eats just 100 grams of chocolate per year – the equivalent of two candy bars. Euromonitor has found that Japanese eat 11 times more chocolate, Americans, 44 times, and Germans, 82 times as much.
Rivaling chocolate expos – Shanghai’s Chocolate Happy Land and Chocolate Wonderland offer life-size figurines, photo opportunities, and even a runway show.
“Chinese people are very much into gift-giving for all sorts of holidays and festivals,” said John Holmberg, Belgium-based Godiva’s director. “We’re having very, very good success with these key festivals with Chinese consumers.” Its lavish gift sets for special holidays have been very popular among consumers.
For the Chinese New Year, Godiva came up with an 18-piece gift box, complete with tea-flavored ganache and snake designs. It retails for 488 yuan. The brand’s “Overflowing Fortune” gift basket features a bottle of wine and dark chocolate syrup, and sells for 3,980 yuan.
Italy’s Ferrero Rocher, it seems, will enjoy the fastest jolt in the market for the second consecutive year. It had 8.4 percent of the market last year and is now up a third from that, Euromnitor reports.
Raphael Wermuth, spokesman for Swiss-based chocolate-maker Barry Callebaut, said the Chinese would embrace chocolate the way they have slowly acclimated to coffee. Market projections show chocolate sales expansion at just 10 percent through 2015.