Whether it's breeds of dog or kinds of alcohol, the more humanity loves something, the more varieties of said thing there tend to be. This is especially true of chocolate, which might be one of the most nuanced and diverse categories of food out there. Chocolate bars, coins, drinks, baked goods, coated fruits and even chocolate-covered potato chips are just a few of the subcategories of chocolate out there, and each one of these sub-categories can be divided into sub-sub-categories, and those into sub-sub-sub categories, and ...
You get the idea. If you're looking to purchase some chocolate, there is no shortage of delicious and creative options. Of course, picking something for your own pleasure is one thing, but if your selection of a chocolaty treat is business-related, then more of an educated guess might be in order. Below are several varieties of chocolate products, their pros and cons laid out so that the next time you're picking out chocolate, you don't have to just go with your gut.
THE CHOCOLATE BAR
An iconic classic, one of the main perks of the standard chocolate bar is how much surface area it offers for a client's message. Not only can the chocolate itself carry the message or design of your choosing, the wrapper can be used as an imprint area. This includes even the inside of the wrapper, which not only adds to the already considerable art space on the bar, but also provides an extra opportunity for creativity. "What we have found with wrapper bars is that there is a lot of value in printing on the inside of the wrapper, either with a coupon that recipients can use or imprints of prizes awarded that can be claimed," said David Miller, president of Chocolate Inn, Freeport, N.Y.
If the traditional wrapper format isn't what you're looking for, more elaborate, bar-like chocolate patterns with similar imprinting options are a possibility. "Some of our largest orders have been of products that we have duplicated in chocolate," said Miller. He provided an example of an end-buyer's building that Chocolate Inn had recreated in chocolate, which is pictured to the top-right.
With chocolate, bigger isn't always better. Smaller chocolates, like chocolate poker chips or miniature bars, can offer a similar promotional impact at a lower cost than their larger peers. The key lies not only with the cultural perception of chocolate as a luxury item, which allows a little bit to go a long way, but also remembering to make careful and thoughtful use of packaging. Rebecca Wexler, marketing director for Mid-Nite Snax, Mineola, N.Y., provided an example.
"The goal of a particular promotion was to find a creative and elegant way to promote the top destinations of a well known, chic hotel chain," she said. "The hotel was looking for an edible promotion with their printed material inside to leave in the hotel rooms of their guests to inform them of their various top locations. We were able to create a custom box filled with individual chocolate pieces, each with a custom wrapper. This provided the upscale look the hotel was looking [for], which fit perfectly into their budget."
BROWNIES AND OTHER BAKED GOODS
Combining the two fantastic foods of chocolate and cake, brownies and other chocolaty baked goods have a lot to offer as promotional food item. Not only do they offer the added perception of thoughtfulness that only a hand-baked treat can provide, baked chocolate items can save you cash on shipping during the hotter months as well.
"Ground shipping of brownies can offer huge savings as compared to chocolate that requires air shipment to many locations during the warm-weather months," said Tom Riordan, president, Maple Ridge Farms Inc., Mosinee, Wis. "This is because the chocolate has been 'pre-melted' when the brownies were baked at 350 degrees."
Like chocolate baked goods, chocolate-covered items such as pretzels, cookies and potato chips offer a chance to provide end-users with a home-baked touch. They have a few other interesting perks as well, like being unusual enough to really grab a recipients attention. After all, how often to you see chocolate-covered dried fruit? Or Oreo Cookies? They also offer a chance to work some interesting metaphors into a promotion ("J&B Consulting: We make the great better" on a tin of chocolate-covered potato chips would be one example).
With such items, Mary Pernula, director of marketing for Custom Chocolate, St. Paul, Minn., stressed the value of working with items baked to order, and also to remember how much customization is available in edibles packaging, from size to item selection and the wrapping itself.