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The brand, the package, the story and the worldview

Madecasse Madecasse has a lot going for it. It's delicious chocolate. It's made in Africa (the only imported chocolate made on the continent with local beans). The guys who make it are doing good work and are nice as well.

The question I asked them is, "does your packaging do its job?"

I don't think the job of packaging is to please your boss. I think you must please the retailer, but most of all, attract and delight and sell to the browsing, uncommitted new customer.

Let me take you through the reasoning, because I think it applies to your packaging as well.

We start with this: if I've already purchased and liked your product, the packaging isn't nearly as important. I'm talking here about packaging as a sales tool for converting browsers into buyers. (If you're already a buyer, all I need to do is remind you what we look like). If word of mouth or other factors are at work, your package matters a lot less. But for a company this size, in this market, the package matters a lot.

Now, among people who haven't bought, but might, understand that every one of them starts with a worldview. What are the beliefs and expectations and biases they have about the world?

In this case, it's about someone in the market for high end chocolate. If your worldview is, "Hershey's is the best, it reminds me of my childhood," then I'd argue that this $4 bar isn't for you no matter what they do with the package.

Perhaps you believe, "All that matters is how it tastes, and great chocolate looks a certain way,"

or perhaps, "I care about the origin of what I buy,"

or perhaps, "I want something out of the ordinary, unlike anything I've had before,"

or perhaps, "Chocolate is like wine. I am interested in vintages and varietals,"

or maybe, "Chocolate should be fun. Enough with the seriousness."

As you can see, no package can optimize for all of these people. You can compromise your packaging, try to appeal to everyone, muddy your brand promise and hide your story. I think that's sort of what the existing packaging does and I'm not sure it's smart.

Chocolate  The alternative is to focus not on ALL the people in the market, but just a few. Winning hands down with 25% is plenty in this market, and perhaps in your market too.

You could figure out how to tell the delicious story, by referencing (copying the style of) other products in other categories that are already seen as delicious, at least by this audience.

You could tell the snobby varietal handmade story, and that's been done many times as well.

Or you could tell a story that is yours and yours alone.

For example, the Madecasse story about made by Africans in Africa is very powerful, at least as powerful as fair trade, if not more (they keep four times as much money in Africa by selling a bar as they would if they just sold beans to other companies).

If that's true, then why not put your workers on the label? Big beautiful pictures that would be an amazing juxtaposition against all the other abstract stuff in the store. Tell me the story of the worker on the back. Make each one different and compelling. Packaging as baseball card. I wouldn't put a word on the front, just the picture.  Now I not only eat something that tastes good, but I feel good. You've made it personal. The story on the back is about a real person, living a better life because I took the time to buy her chocolate instead of someone else's. When I share the chocolate, I have something to say. What do you say when you give someone a chocolate bar? This package gives you something to say.

Or be fun and funny. Make the product itself almost a bumper sticker, something worth buying and talking about.

The two elements that must come together are:

  • The story you can confidently tell and
  • the worldview the buyer tells herself

When those align, you win. Happy Valentine's day on Sunday.

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