Ethnographic research key to chocolate bar package redesign

Endangered Species Chocolate’s 3-oz premium bars receive a package design ‘reboot’ to better align with consumer expectations.

For years, Endangered Species Chocolate (ESC) bars were instantly recognizable on store shelves thanks to their bold, colorful wrapper graphics depicting animals considered endangered species.

Now that’s all changing, in large part due to ethnographic research. In March, 2017, ESC enlisted GutCheck of Denver, CO to execute shopper exploratory research to understand consumer behavior in the chocolate aisle.

“What was designed as an Innovation study to understand what type of products consumers were looking for ultimately set forth in motion a deep investigation into who premium and specialty chocolate shoppers are, what were their perceptions of Endangered Species Chocolate, and how ESC could re-position itself to best appeal to those with the strongest buying power today,” explains Tod Dalberg, Director of Brand and Marketing.

“Upon these learnings we hired a local marketing research firm with strong expertise in research and consumer insight to assess ESC inside and out.We compared our brand to those of the food industry—we explored both internally and externally our strengths and weaknesses as a brand and as an organization. The research team at Matchbook Creative surveyed 1,000 current ESC consumers and 2,500 premium chocolate consumers. They executed countless one-on-one interviews of specialty and natural chocolate purchasers, and they spent hours in store observing shoppers in aisles to understand their attitudes and usage of premium chocolate.

“Through research,” Dalberg continues, “our consumers were telling us that the primary reason they buy our chocolate is because of its great taste. When we evaluated the key purchase drivers of non-ESC users, they too had shared that taste is primary in their decision-making process. As we dissected the path to purchase we realized that during the less than 60 seconds consumers spend in our aisle, they may not be able to tell how great our chocolate is just from looking at the package.This is when we took another step towards making change at ESC.”

ESC credits Brandsmith for creative development and execution. The new packaging is produced by Belmark. Packaging materials incorporate 10% post-consumer waste.

With taste as the primary factor, ESC remained true to its roots of offering premium products made with ethically sourced, high quality, and environmentally sustainable ingredients. Available nationwide at more than 25,000 points of distribution, and online, ESC sells 14 different everyday flavors plus three holiday varieties of the chocolate bars.

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