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TCHO New American Chocolate

What chocolate really tastes like

So we have a marketing issue. We’ve innovated a new taxonomy for tasting chocolate, because the current “dark” or “percentage cacao” or “terroir/genetics” models seem insufficient to connecting consumers to the flavor the bar they are tasting. We created a flavor wheel to represent this taxonomy. And we designate our bars by the inherent flavor of the cacao we are using. Indeed, we use this taxonomy to source our beans, to create our formulations, to roast, and to refine, so that at the end, our chocolate is the purest expression of those flavors we can make.

The challenge comes in how to convey what we are doing to consumers. Some completely get it, like the Wallpaper guys at the NY Chocolate show last year, who wrote:

The biggest hit [of The New York Chocolate Show] to our minds was the San Francisco-based company Tcho, who cut a clear swath through the sometime mystery of single-origin (it takes a while to immediately recognize Madagascar) with a flavor-profile approach, offering the choice of nutty, fruity, chocolatey, and citrusy. It sounds simple, but it absolutely works, and after the exhaustion of tasting so many different bars and truffles and types, was the perfect – and perfectly packaged – close.

Still, we’re hearing anecdotally that some aren’t buying our “Nutty” bars because they’re allergic to nuts, or that they’re disappointed that there aren’t any raisins in our “Fruity.”

That, of course, led to some spirited discussion around here about how to clear up the confusion. One response is to change the language on the packaging. Now it’s going to read:

What Chocolate Really Tastes Like.
TCHO chocolates are the pure
flavors of cacao. There are no nuts
in our “Nutty,” nor fruit in “Fruity.”
As with wine, what you taste is
precisely, and only, what’s in the
fruit itself. Because we believe
that flavor – not vague terms
like “dark,” “% cacao,” or “origin” –
is the real key to savoring chocolate.

Then we started to think – if we had some marketing money to spend, what kind of a campaign would we create to get this message out? With a tip of our hat to Steve Jobs and his Think Different campaign that appropriated all the heros of the 20th century to help Apple when it really needed it, herewith . . .


Remark (1)


Michael Penland:

Hi Louis and team,

It wasn’t until I read the new flavor blurb on the back of the bar I got at the TCHO holiday jam that I really believed all I was tasting was chocolate.  I was totally convinced that there was actual citrus in the citrus, nuts in the nutty, etc, but was pleasantly surprised (and now infatuated with) the purity of the flavor profiles.

You’re right, this is a tricky market differentiation issue, especially with so many additive chocolate bars out there. Educating consumers will take time, but there may be an some simple solutions in the interim.

While the blurb helps, you should consider -if only for a time- adding a term like “varietal” to the bar name to emphasis the distinction, e.g., Dark Chocolate “Fruity Varietal”.  This would help clarify that “Fruity” is describing the cacao and not any additives, while also reinforcing the similarities to the wine industry.

PS – Great meeting you at the holiday jam; I’m glad we got the music going 😉
Take care.