Marcia Mogelonsky
Marcia Mogelonsky is the Director of Insight, Mintel Food & Drink, at Mintel. Her expertise focuses on a number of areas in confectionery and snacks.

When choosing chocolate as a gift, chocolate buyers in the UK will pay more for luxurious brands and packaging. As the holidays rapidly approach, glitz and glamour cannot be emphasized enough.

Luxe packaging and brands are for gifting

According to Mintel research on UK confectionery, nearly a tenth of UK chocolate buyers spend more on luxurious packaging, and nearly one-third will pay more for luxurious packaging for special occasion/gift chocolate. Luxury chocolate brands are especially valued as gifts, with more than two in five chocolate buyers willing to pay more for super-premium brands.
Brand reputation in the chocolate category is well established. In the UK, Hotel Chocolat and Lindt Lindor have a reputation as exclusive and special, pointing to their position as premium and luxury brands.

Luxury packaging from luxury brands

Prestat’s has a reputation as a luxury chocolate company going back to the early 1900s. Reputation, bolstered by top ingredients and innovative products, have made companies like Prestat a destination for giftable chocolate (UK).

Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse, the chocolate confectionery from Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse is a giftable premium product, especially given its chef’s exclusive reputation (France).

Hotel Chocolat’s sleeves allow for customized gifting. The luxury quality brand provides a range of gifts for a number of holidays (UK).

High-quality ingredients – for gifting and for keeping

High-quality ingredients are extremely important when it comes to spending on chocolate confectionery. Nearly one-third of UK chocolate confectionery buyers would pay more for chocolate with high-quality ingredients such as single-origin cocoa, when buying for themselves, and nearly a quarter would do so when buying chocolate as a gift.

It is also notable that high-quality still ranks behind luxury brand and luxury packaging when gifting. This suggests that while chocolate buyers want the best ingredients for themselves, they are willing to sidestep ingredients for appearance when it comes to gifting. The cliche about “judging a book by its cover” comes to mind as gifters want to make a good impression with a gift that looks luxurious and is branded with the name of a premium manufacturer.

The flavour conundrum

Nearly nine in 10 chocolate eaters/buyers agree that taste is the most important factor for chocolate, and the interest in flavour will prompt more than one-third to spend more on exciting flavours when buying chocolate confectionery for themselves.

However, flavour is not a major factor that spurs gift purchase. Less than a quarter of buyers would pay more for a chocolate gift with an exciting flavour. This supports the natural desire to gift appropriately; choosing a box of chocolates with exciting flavours could fall flat if the recipient finds the product to be unpleasant.

Gifters are more likely to depend on reliable chocolate products (eg caramel, milk chocolate) for an expensive gift than to risk less well-known flavours such as chili, that do not appeal to the recipient.

New flavour combinations

Flavour combination gone too far? Aldi’s Handmade Prosecco Sugar & Chocolate Honeycombs combines prosecco, honeycomb pieces, and popping candy. The combination, coated in milk chocolate, may be too adventurous for gifting (UK).

Beer or stout? Lir Chocolate‘s Guinness Milk Chocolate Caramel Bar leverages the popular caramel with a Guinness twist. This could prove to be a divisive gift option, unless the recipient is open to the distinctive flavour of Guinness (UK).

Florals may be risky: Montezuma Dark Chocolate with Orange & Geranium, is experimenting with florals beyond violet and rose; a trend across a number of markets. Geranium may prove to have a limited audience, especially as a gifting choice (UK).

What we think

Although taste rules for chocolate confectionery, manufacturers will have more success when promoting holiday products if they focus on reputation and appearance.