“Godiva Gems and Communispace for B2C Listening,” Communispace, 2010.

Faced with a severe economic downturn, the luxury chocolatier Godiva set out to determine how its customers were changing too. Godiva’s premium products generally had been purchased and gifted only on special occasions. But in a members-only online community, called Chocolate Talk, Godiva asked customers for their insights, in the hope of discovering where and when they buy chocolate—Godiva or any other brand.

The results? People buy Godiva for special occasions for others whom they care about or want to impress, especially during the holiday season and for their birthdays. But true chocolate connoisseurs still expressed their preference for premium chocolate, as opposed to lower end brands. Because Godiva sells in mall boutiques, purchasing the chocolates requires a special trip to the mall—acceptable for a special occasion but not for an impulse treat. Therefore, when chocolate lovers wanted to buy a treat for themselves, they bought premium chocolate from the grocery or drug store where they shopped regularly.

Buying chocolate for themselves and eating it all prompted feelings of guilt in a lot of these community members. Thus Godiva realized that people enjoyed sharing chocolate with coworkers. In this setting, the individually wrapped offerings, such as Lindor Truffles and Ghirardelli Squares, were very appealing.

The company put all these insights together to arrive at a new product concept: premium chocolate, available in regular retail channels such as grocery stores, presented as individually wrapped treats. In so doing, Godiva also was encouraging a new consumer behavior for its customers: casual purchases of luxury Godiva chocolates.

The new Godiva Gems, stand-up bags of individually wrapped truffles, sell for $4.99 at drug stores and grocery stores. The extensive, technology-enabled market research that Godiva undertook in developing this product led to its widespread and great appeal. It already has surpassed Lindt’s market share at CVS with 20 percent of the category. Godiva Gems may still sound luxurious, but they are not just for special occasions, nor just for others. They encourage treats for oneself, on a more frequent basis.

Discussion Questions:

Why was market research so valuable for Godiva?