Godiva Is Appealing to a Wider Demographic to Take a Bigger Bite of Chocolate Category

The company has invested in a new ad campaign, innovative products and broader distribution

Photo of Godiva chocolates
Godiva's new ad campaign begins Aug. 17. Godiva

Since 1926, Godiva Chocolatier has been selling premium chocolate at boutique shops. Now, nearly a century later, the company is looking to expand beyond affluent shoppers and special occasions, such as holidays and anniversaries, by making its goods more available to more people.

“We’ve got huge long-term objectives to be this omnichannel brand that provides a very accessible product—a very affordable luxury—wherever and whenever our consumers want to get their hands on it,” said John Galloway, chief marketing and innovation officer at Godiva Chocolatier.

Godiva currently has 340 stores and 60 cafés located around the globe. While the company has dabbled with placing its products in supermarkets and similar channels for the past decade, Galloway said Godiva has taken a “dramatic shift” toward this tactic following the arrival of Annie Young-Scrivner, who became the company’s CEO in 2017 after working at Starbucks and PepsiCo.

Part of this change has involved inventing new products with sturdier packaging designed for mass retail. In late 2017, for instance, the company debuted Godiva Masterpieces, which is chocolate that comes in a rectangular box, not unlike anything you’d see near a cash register in a convenience store. This year, the company has begun a national rollout of its new Chocolate Domes (individually wrapped pieces of multilayered chocolate separated with a crisp wafer) and Signature Mini Bars (small strips of chocolate that come in a variety of flavors, such as salted caramel milk chocolate and roasted almond dark chocolate).

Unlike sales of gum and mints, which have suffered during the pandemic due to social distancing and more people working from home, demand for chocolate has increased. Year-to-date U.S. retail sales of chocolate are up 4.1% to $7.8 billion, according to market research firm IRI. At present, 23% of Godiva’s total worldwide sales come from its CPG channels.

Godiva isn’t alone in its embrace of more mass market retail channels: Last week, New York’s popular Levain Bakery announced it would begin selling its famous cookies in select grocery stores this fall.

Next week, Godiva is debuting a digital ad campaign created in partnership with its agency of record TracyLocke, part of the DDB network at Omnicom Group. A 15-second spot aimed at a North American audience focuses on Godiva’s mini bars. The clip ends with the tagline “Unwrap anywhere. Unwind anytime.” and a line of text that reads “available in the chocolate aisle,” underlining the idea that the product is meant for everyday consumption.

Apart from programmatic and video sites such as Amazon, Hulu and YouTube, Godiva’s new marketing push will go out on social channels such as Facebook, Pinterest and Snapchat. Galloway explained that Godiva typically targets ads at people aged 35-44, so Snapchat, which has a younger user base, will also help expand the chocolate maker’s reach.

“We’re really excited to see what some of the applications we can do from a creative perspective with the Snapchat team,” said Galloway. “That’s certainly one that’s going to be new for us.”

Selling more chocolate online is also a part of Godiva’s strategy, said Galloway, who noted that the company’s U.S. ecommerce business is up 140% year to date compared to 2019, with the majority of sales occurring on Godiva’s own site. U.S. web traffic to Godiva.com is also up 43% when comparing March through June 2020 with the same time period last year, according to market intelligence company SimilarWeb.

With a decline in foot traffic to physical locations during the pandemic, more people have turned to the internet to buy groceries. A new report from Mintel notes that while shoppers will eventually return to brick-and-mortar stores, ecommerce will remain elevated. The research firm estimates that U.S. online sales will surpass 20%—nearly $1.1 trillion—of total retail sales in 2024.

@hiebertpaul paul.hiebert@adweek.com Paul Hiebert is a CPG reporter at Adweek, where he focuses on data-driven stories that help illustrate changes in consumer behavior and sentiment.