The Innovation 50: Divine Chocolate shows how Fairtrade drives sales when combined with outstanding flavour

The Innovation 50: Divine Chocolate shows how Fairtrade drives sales when combined with outstanding flavour

Launched in 1998, Divine Chocolate was set up by cocoa farmers in Ghana to help them sell their cocoa bean crops via a chocolate company in the UK. From that day forward, its USP was focused on being the only chocolate company giving profits back to the farmers that grow the cocoa beans.

Until, that is, 2019. The proposition changed that year because its marketing team realised it seemed to be limiting the appeal of the brand. And this brave realisation is one of the reasons why Pamela Brown, CMO, Vodafone Smart Tech, nominated the company as an Innovation 50 brand.

Pamela says, “Divine’s positioning originally highlighted its USP as the only chocolate company to give profits back to the farmers that grow the cocoa beans. But they took it a step further to extend the appeal of the brand and focus on the taste of the product, with a successful new slogan: ‘Owned by cocoa farmers. Made for chocolate lovers’.

“A complex proposition, succinctly delivered.”

It was essentially a shift from purpose to product.

Its early marketing and positioning – even at one stage using female farmers in a campaign – was originally almost entirely focused on highlighting the fact it was 44% owned by the Kuapa Kokoo cocoa farmers’ co-operative in Ghana. But this approach had limited the brand’s appeal over time.

In essence, its “complex proposition”, which included talking about being Fairtrade, was landing well with those already committed to Fairtrade but at the cost of a much bigger audience: chocolate lovers.

Pre-2019 success

Before the change, the brand had already been a trailblazer. It found its Fairtrade audience – who had been looking for a chocolate brand to get behind – fairly quickly.

And rather than falling into the trap of trying to appeal to consumers’ altruism on the basis of charity, the protagonists were always the farmers themselves. This was about empowering them rather than asking their customers to be benevolent.

In another early step that helped make the brand distinctive in a premium chocolate category that includes the likes of Green & Black’s and Lindt, it also supported the Ghana national football team in the 2010 World Cup.

A further move that signals its authenticity and also helps it stand out on supermarket shelves is its packaging, which uses traditional Adinkra symbols.

Now a major chocolate brand in the UK and USA, it retains a strong ethical approach with a message that it is focused on empowering farmers. This positioning is in stark contrast, it says, to the exploitation of cocoa farmers that characterises the vast majority of the chocolate sector.

All of these marketing approaches, when coupled with the brave strategic decision to focus on product as much as purpose, have made Divine Chocolate a Just.Marketing Innovation 50 brand.