Thursday, March 20, 2008

Confectionery Category Memo: Fashion Designer Giorgio Armani Creates and Sells a line of Decadent, Premium Artisanal Chocolate Eggs for Easter

What does high-end fashion designer GiorgioArmani have in common with Easter. Hint: It has nothing to do with designer Easter Bonnets but everything to do with designer, chocolate Easter eggs.

The Armani fashion house has decided to cash-in on the soaring, high-end, gourmet and artisanal chocolate segment of the confectionery category by creating and introducing what Georgio Armani calls his Spring 2008 chocolate collection.
The collection features Armani Dolce Easter Eggs, which are three varieties of decadent chocolate eggs in dark, milk and white chocolate. The premium, artisanal chocolate Easter eggs even have the fashion house's distinctive Armani "A" logo embossed on each egg.

Each of the designer chocolate eggs is wrapped in a package befitting what one would expect from one of the world's most high-end fashion houses. The Armani Dolce Easter Egg comes packaged in sugar-blue colored mattelic paper with a sky blue ribbon. These designer chocolate eggs aren't for children's Easter egg hunts though. Rather, they're for a special someone; especially a special someone who loves Armani.

In addition to the individual Dolce Easter eggs, Armani also has a second item in his Spring 2008 premium chocolate collection. That item is a hand-carved chocolate Easter Dove made from a full kilo of super-premium chocolate.

Armani is keeping distribution of the decadent chocolate Easter Eggs and the Easter Dove exclusive. High-end, upscale retailers can't order them to sell in their stores even if they want to. Rather, Armani is only selling the chocolate Easter delicacies at its various Armani retail stores. The chocolate eggs and Easter Dove are currently being offered for sale in the stores and are available until May 9, according to an Armani spokesperson.

The chocolate segment is the hottest and fastest-growing of the many within the overall confectionery and candy category. And within the chocolate segment, gourmet, artisanal, organic and Fair Trade premium chocolate products are leading the segment. There's a consumer flight to premium quality, and even the top-selling organic and Fair Trade chocolate brands are premium as well as having the other attributes.

Chocolate makers and marketers have been responding to this consumer flight to premium quality chocolate--and pushing it along as well--by introducing a record number of products in the last two years. In fact, chocolate candy--lead by premium quality--was the leading category globally in all food new-product launches between October and December, 2007, according to the market research firm Productscan. That's a 28.7% increase over the previous year.

Additionally, the premium chocolate candy segment had consumer sales growth of over 20% in 2007, compared to the previous year. Premium dark chocolate, milk chocolate, organic and Fair Trade chocolates lead this sales growth. Sales growth for 2008 is expected to be even higher.

With such rapid sales growth in the premium chocolate category, it's no surprise fashion designer Armani decided to create and put his famous logo on a line of decadent chocolate Easter Eggs, as well as the hand-crafted Easter Dove.

The process of an artisan crafting a fine premium chocolate product is similar to the process a fashion designer uses to create a woman's dress, shoes or a man's suit. It's mostly a creative art but science is involved as well. Looking at it that way, artisanal chocolates are actually a rather logical line extension for a creative artist like Armani. It's also a good extension of the brand we believe because there's a logical mental connection in consumers' minds between high-quality clothing--and designers--and high quality confections.

After all, the best artisanal and gourmet chocolate makers and marketers use branding strategies similar to the best fashion designers. These include using the confection makers personal name often, just like fashion designers do, using high-quality packaging, and getting well-known celebrities to try, enjoy and endorse their respective products.

We aren't sure if Armani makes and sells designer Easter bonnets. However, if he does, an Easter gift of an Armani Easter bonnet and set of Armani premium chocolate Dolce Easter Eggs could be a big winner as an Easter gift this year.

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