What Today's Confectionery Range Needs - Guest Feature with Tony's Chocolonely

Chocolate has evolved from being primarily offered in a standard-sized bar (we all know the obvious name) to being sold in a wide array of variants, formats and alternative editions. The premium market is a growing chocolate segment that is bringing with it, new, higher-spending consumers into the category. Sharing occasions are on the rise from Covid-19 related restrictions, with shoppers more inclined to treat themselves whilst staying at home.

The issue of sustainability and ethical sourcing is rarely out of the headlines, especially when it comes to everyday products like chocolate. So it stands to reason that shoppers are scrutinising confectionery brands more than ever before. Nearly 4 in 10 shoppers say sustainable packaging is very important to them when choosing a chocolate brand. On the same note, ethical sourcing is becoming a hot topic among consumers. Nearly half of confectionery shoppers say ethical production was ‘very important’ when buying a chocolate brand, and 40% deemed it ‘quite important’.

What does this mean for the confectionery category? Nicola Matthews @ Tony's Chocolonely helps shed light on the pioneering mission Tony's are hoping to achieve, along with an insight in to how all this translates in to opportunities for Independent Retailers....

Chocolate for the Big Night In

At Tony’s we have definitely seen more customers treating themselves to our chocolate as an affordable indulgence when going out to bars and restaurants wasn’t possible. The hundreds of tags we get on social media every week shows us that people enjoy sharing (or not sharing!) their big bar of Tony’s in front of the TV or as a quick dessert substitution in the evenings.

Chocolate is so versatile in that it can be used to treat yourself, treat someone else, to celebrate a good day or to improve a bad one and Tony’s is especially well-placed to fulfil all of those need states with the extra benefit of being ethically sound. Our 'choco fans' can indulge safe in the knowledge that no one has been exploited in the cocoa supply chain to produce their treat. We expect this trend of premium indulgence and treating yourself at home to continue as we unfortunately move into a likely recession.

Why Does Ethical Chocolate Matter?

There has been a huge surge in consumers caring about the sustainability of the brands they buy in recent years due to the Greta / David Attenborough effect. This is especially prevalent in millennial and Gen Z consumer groups – these consumers want to buy brands that reflect their values, and they are getting wise to green/purpose washing. We’ve seen a huge rise in more eco-conscious mums and dads too who only want to buy natural and sustainable products for their families.

"...ethical and delicious chocolate doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive"

At the same time, the problems in West African cocoa production are only getting worse. Despite big chocolate companies signing the Harkin Engel protocol in 2001 to say they would eradicate illegal child labour from their supply chains, today there are still 2.1 million children working illegally and a minimum of 30k instances of modern slavery on West African cocoa farms. This is largely due to inequality in the supply chain and cocoa farmers being paid too little for their cocoa crop. Our mission to change this is more important and essential that ever. But unless consumers know about the problems they can’t purchase consciously. So, our job is to make them aware and then show them that there is a solution – ethical and delicious chocolate doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Standing Out in a Crowded Chocolate Category

In a recent consumer survey when we asked what made people try Tony’s for the first time, the most common answers were our standout packaging and different flavour options. Our bright rainbow wrappers and the unique flavour combinations such as dark milk chocolate with pretzel toffee and white chocolate with raspberry and popping candy (exclusive to non-grocery retailers) are truly adding something different to the category. And the chocolate tastes amazing. We only use the best quality ingredients and taste is what keeps shoppers coming back to make that all-important repeat purchase.

"...demographics of a Tony’s shopper are very broad which is a great appeal for independent retailers"

Where we have data available from grocery partners, we know 60% of Tony’s sales are incremental to the confectionary category so we expect it to be the same in the independent channels. Our biggest differentiator is that we are the only brand sourcing cocoa from West Africa that adheres to a set of strict sourcing principles put in place to eradicate illegal labour from the supply chain. This is the reason we exist, and we hope as more shoppers become aware of the issue and what we are doing to solve it this will be a key reason to buy also.

Opportunities Ahead in Confectionery

The great thing about Tony’s Chocolonely is that it appeals to all chocolate lovers! 11% people buy us for our ethics, but the majority buy us because the chocolate tastes amazing and delivers something different. Consumer data shows that we are particularly popular with foodies and also families with young children, but the demographics of a Tony’s shopper are very broad which is a great appeal for independent retailers.

We are really excited to be launching some big campaigns and news in the coming year to grow the Tony’s brand and mission even further. You may already have seen our manifesto film voiced by Idris Elba which encourages everyone to sign our petition to make it against the law to have illegal child labour in your supply chain. We also have big new product plans in the coming years to continue to excite our choco fans and bring them new and interesting chocolate combinations.

Ordering Tony's Chocolonely with Epicurium

Did you like our content? Has this blog helped inspire you? As experts in wholesome chocolate snacks, the team at Epicurium offer a carefully curated range of the best confectionery range for retailers - from sure fire hits to some of the freshest new brands on the market. With independent brands stealing a march on the more established brand names, driven by authenticity and a strong online brand presence.

Take a look at some of the new products you could be stocking to capture a greater share of the snacking audience. With a quick turnaround of 24-48 hours, no minimum order number and free delivery on any order over £80, our team here at Epicurium can have you tapping into the most on trend confectionery ranges in no time.

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