What’s behind your chocolate? Telling the story of the value chain through consumer marketing

Selling inclusive products can be a challenge, as it’s difficult to tell the story behind these products to the average price-conscious consumer. Inclusive products are usually more expensive, as they guarantee a fair price to those at origin – how can marketing reflect the value chain differences that may result in these higher prices and thereby increase the consumers’ willingness to pay?
QuitoBerlin was the latest company to partner with Endeva and MicroEnergy International as a presenter at the ongoing Inclusive Business Brown Bag Lunch Series on May 14. This series, designed by Endeva and MEI, brings together Berlin’s inclusive business community for informal discussion on an inclusive business topic.
QuitoBerlin imports Pacari chocolate and Kiwa chips from Ecuador and creates distribution channels for them in Germany and Europe. They described the struggle of overcoming the price that consumers have pre-assigned to a certain good – like chocolate. As they built their business, QuitoBerlin often had consumers ask why their chocolate was so expensive, and responded by challenging consumers to ask why chocolate is usually so cheap. With the current prices paid, farmers may not be able to make ends meet; they may use lesser-quality cocoa or less nutritious parts of the fruit. Or, in the processing, lots of sugar, fat or other additives may be added to lower the price. QuitoBerlin said that their consumers are usually impressed about how much is behind chocolate that they hadn’t previously realized – and by the level of quality. In fact, Pacari was the main winner of the prestigious International Chocolate Awards World Final in London in 2013.
Standards on packaging are one way that QuitoBerlin tells its story. FairTrade, kosher, and other standards are one way of communicating their level of quality and commitment to certain practices at the point of sale. QuitoBerlin also spends time with their distributors and retailers to educate them on the product, its origins, and the price breakdown. Relaying understanding to these actors gives them the tools to pass along the stories to any interested customers and creates a greater sense of value for the products.
QuitoBerlin is also considering other methods of increasing consumer knowledge going forward. For example, printing the stories on the packaging or on a flyer near the products in a concise way. They are also beginning to leverage social media and their website to showcase blogs or success stories at origin.