Taste Testing Dark Chocolate

August 2nd, 2011 by Rich Christiansen

Last weekend was my wife’s birthday. As part of her birthday present I wanted to get her a special treat that she would really enjoy. Several nights before her birthday we went to a friend’s home. This individual is quite a charismatic connoisseur of chocolate, and as part of the dessert he had us sample some very high-end, dark chocolate, one of which was laced with bacon, of all things. Another was flavored with a certain type of mushroom.

My wife really enjoyed the chocolate and the entire experience. So as a good husband, I decided to get her some really high-end, fancy dark chocolate. Indeed, my wife loves dark chocolate. So on her birthday, I presented her with several bars of Amano Artisan Chocolate. The intriguing thing is that the only difference between each of these designer chocolate bars is where the cocoa bean is grown, yet there is a remarkably different flavor that stands out with each bar. Then to make it a little more fun, I got her some other types of chocolate. I got her a Lindt Swiss Chocolate bar. I even got her, from all places, some chocolate from Ikea. Of course, I also added in some famous Ghirardelli.

I have to admit I was pretty excited to present these elegant chocolate bars to my beautiful, chocolate-loving wife. When she started eating a little bit of the chocolate gift, much to my dismay she wasn’t salivating or even getting super excited about the expensive artisan chocolate. I was of course a little bit put out…indignant that I spent $7.00 for each small designer bar that she was glossing over. (Yes $21.00 for just little bit of chocolate.)

So I decided, okay, we are going to sample these seriously. We are going to test the artisan chocolate against the grocery store brands. We gathered my family and my brother’s family for the taste test. I cut the samples into little pieces, covered it with a cloth, had everyone blindly taste the samples one by one, and then rate the chocolates.

Indeed there was a dramatic difference between each chocolate. And everyone could pinpoint dramatically different flavors that came out of each of these chocolates.

Instantly Nathan, my 15-year-old son identified the gourmet chocolate and zeroed right in on it. He loved it. However, everyone else, for the most part, actually enjoyed the regular, non-designer chocolate better than the fancy stuff.

It was really a fun experience to go through and sample each chocolate. As I thought about this I saw the analogy. I realized that in business we often go through a very similar concept. We think that everyone is going to prefer the exotic, the way-out-there taste, or the highest priced option. However, sometimes the pallets of our target are not necessarily over-the-top extravagant, bacon-laced, dark chocolate experiences.

Now none of these chocolates were low quality. None of these chocolates were just the cheap stuff from the check out aisle. Nonetheless, they were dramatically different in price. So as you present product offers to your customers, make sure that you actually understand the taste of the consumer that you are subscribing to.

Additionally, when you are the consumer, consider this chocolate analogy. I never encourage anyone to go with cheap stuff that falls apart, but sometimes people just like the simple dark chocolate that isn’t the handmade designer style. You don’t have to spend extravagantly in your business when your flavor isn’t suited to that either. You can get decent office chairs and decent office equipment that isn’t necessarily over-the-top, high-priced stuff.

The interesting thing about this taste test is that the winner was the second lowest priced bar. Most everyone voted that the Lindt chocolate bar was the favorite. Whether you’re tasting chocolate or whether you’re buying or selling services, you don’t always have to be extreme.

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