A photo of Madecasse, chocolates from Madagascar in Africa

Would you know these chocolates are African?

Seth Godin, the marketing guru and author, wrote a unique post on his blog, titled “The brand, the package, the story and the worldview.” It’s about Madecasse (forgive me, I used the photo on Seth’s blog), and apparently, they’re a jewel in the U.S. confectionary market because it’s produced and manufactured straight from Madagascar, the biggest island in Africa.

Seth hits quite a lot of insights – that the packaging doesn’t differentiate itself from others. He says that a new packaging must tell this African story, and connect with the consumers who are into understanding and appreciating it. So, from an account / brand planning point of view, Seth Godin brings up a few insights. To quote some of these ideas he said:

Perhaps you believe, “All that matters is how it tastes, and great chocolate looks a certain way,”
or perhaps, “I care about the origin of what I buy,”
or perhaps, “I want something out of the ordinary, unlike anything I’ve had before,”
or perhaps, “Chocolate is like wine. I am interested in vintages and varietals,”
or maybe, “Chocolate should be fun. Enough with the seriousness.”

And he’s right.

But before Madecasse takes Seth’s word on redesigning, making it look African, making it tell the African legend to customers who say “yeah, give me an inspiring African story, because that will make me buy this chocolate,” perhaps one should consider, “is being African what people would try and buy?”

What about Africa? We think it’s a great continent, it’s got full of stories. Of course. Movies have shown the wilderness, children chasing documentary reporters’ SUVs, mothers brining water from the local wells, and fathers hunting wild animals using traditional tools. But, would an average, or let’s say, even a small population, willing to purchase something made in Africa?

I can agree on Seth how Africa can connect with people in that Africa is thought of as a treasured, unrefined, natural, and beautiful place. And people say these consciously. But in the subconscious mind, people are not that fond of it. (Just think of it, how many people travel to Africa vs. Europe?) So, somehow in the subconscious mind, an African themed packaging might give people the following thoughts:

– “Ah, this is probably not made in Africa, but they probably just used cocoa beans from Africa. ”

– “This is probably made by enslaving people to work 18 hours a day”

– “I wonder if people even used milk in this product”

– “I wonder if people who made this actually used clean hands”

– “Why with the $4 price for something made in Africa?”

So, to add a little more insight to Seth’s, I would say that Madecasse must make sure to test the redesign (if they are reading this, or at least Seth’s post), and make sure that telling the African story doesn’t divert people away from the product on a subconscious level.

People are not as daring as they seem on the outside. People stick to what they’re comfortable with, especially when it comes to consuming it down their sacred, sacred bodies.


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