Unprecedented crises are forcing every industry to innovate and adapt.
It has been more than half a year since the world faced another health threat that forced every sector to temporarily close and lockdowns were enforced to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
Months after these closures, the effects of this gap is now being felt all over the world.
Businesses that deliver fine treats and all sorts of chocolates from commercially produced dark chocolates and milk chocolates up to producers of handcrafted chocolates are not exempted from dealing with the economic blow.
In previous times of crisis, particularly during the 2008-2010 recession, chocolate has done relatively well, as many consumers see it as an affordable luxury. Companies back then are reporting sales growth of two to eight percent annually. But COVID-19 is a different story.
Recently, the Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute (FCCI) conducted a flash-poll to have a broader look at the impact COVID-19 on small chocolate businesses.
The initial poll was participated by 120 businesses. Included in the poll is a wide range of chocolate businesses.
The results are huge but it is not surprising for a crisis caused by a pandemic. It shows that one in five or 80% of small chocolate businesses is at the edge of a shutdown.
Similar to other industries, the greatest threat to small chocolate businesses is caused by the damage to sales.
More than half of the participants declared a 50% drop on their sales while others said they were hit by a 90% drop.
Sales have dropped due to the cancellation of scheduled events and the decrease in consumer demands because most people get essential items like alcohol, everyday food, and water instead of indulging chocolates.
How To Survive During COVID-19 Era
The result of the recent survey calls for better business decisions. If you are one of those affected, here are a few ways to help you thrive during these trying times.
Create new products and services to meet new demands.
If you've been in the chocolate industry for quite some time now, maybe this is the right time for some change. As an entrepreneur, you must think of new ways of how you can be at sync with the new normal.
You can start checking your product offerings. Check out other types of chocolate that can help you to expand your menu. Also, try exploring other flavours so you can appeal to a wider audience.
In addition, consider offering new services. Help your customers to get a bite of your delicious chocolates through online orders, payment, and quick deliveries. Find ways to make it easy for customers to have your products. It is a great way to attract them to buy because your chocolates are more accessible.
Maximize your resources.
If you have a physical store or you are a wholesale chocolate supplier, most probably your store has been temporarily closed and your production has been on halt.
These do not call for immediate closure rather it requires you to look around and utilize your resources. Small chocolate businesses should be focusing on online sales channels now more than ever.
You must now add digital marketing efforts to your list of priorities to drive up your sales. Now, people spend more time engaging online and most of their purchases also happen across the Internet.
At the same time, the lockdowns have kept consumers away from higher-end and seasonal products. Great news for you if you can offer these to your customers, just make sure you let them know.
If your chocolates are non-existent online, there is a chance that your competitors will get ahead of you.
Engage and communicate with your prospects and customers.
You already have an advantage in the market if you keep in touch with your customers.
They will be the first few people to support your small chocolate business during these times. Moreover, they will be a great help in your marketing efforts.
Make them feel that you still value their support despite the situation. Include them in your planned marketing strategy.
Keep An Eye On The Chocolate Market
It is also important to track how your industry behaves as the COVID-19 era develops. As an entrepreneur, you must look after the price, marketing, and product trends in the market so your business can keep up.
There are many organizations that provide updated information and help to chocolate business owners. Here are some organizations you can check out and follow for news as well as inspiration.
1. International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) - They can help you with what's happening in the cocoa market. ICCO publishes monthly reviews and the latest developments on the international cocoa futures markets. They also give readers updates on the supply and demand for cocoa beans.
2. The Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute (FCCI) - FCCI publishes research results related to COVID-19. The studies focus on addressing the effect on small chocolate businesses, cocoa production and trade. They also include the pastry and chocolatier market.
3. The Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) - This group has a page dedicated to FAQs related to COVID-19 and its impact on the industry.
4. Confectionery News - They provide news on the impact of the COVID-19 on chocolate and other confectionery products.
5. The COCOA INITIATIVE - Cocoa News - They release updated information on different industry measures and initiatives that could help businesses and suppliers on the effect of COVID-19 on the cocoa sector.
All types of businesses are affected by this damage to the global economy and trade. Every chocolate business owner is struggling and finding ways to thrive in this situation. While consumers are seeking tastes that they were used to.
Fortunately, there are still small chocolate businesses that continue to serve high-quality and delicious handcrafted chocolates. You just have to look for them.
Treat yourself once in a while during these difficult times.