By Julie Barker
Through the beckoning doors of Godiva stores are bright and orderly displays, offering new temptations along with the traditional boxed chocolates: dipped strawberries, beverages, and this year, soft-serve ice cream. Each was introduced to broaden the appeal beyond the company’s longtime customer — female, middle-aged or older, and willing to spend $50 on a one-pound box of chocolates. But for each new product there is debate: “Is it going to be an incremental sale or will a consumer buy this new thing and stop buying something else?” says David Marberger, CFO of Godiva Chocolatier.
“If you get people into the store, and then if you combine the right merchandising and the right mix of great products, you can attract new customers and drive incremental sales,” he says.
Godiva knows retail, but there’s been constant tinkering in the six years Marberger has been on board. For example, travel retail (including duty free shops) is a channel given more emphasis by the International team that is helping the Godiva brand achieve greater recognition on a global scale. “Even though we don’t have retail stores in certain global markets where the chocolate behavior is strong,” he says, “we are in most airports. So people do know the brand.”
Marberger spends two days each year working in a Godiva boutique to see firsthand what customers like and want and what retail managers deal with. He loves chocolate, particularly the smooth, melt-in-your-mouth quality of Godiva. (Of the newer products, he’s partial to chocolate-covered caramel bars — “Incredible”). He says, “When you tell people you work for Godiva, they have such a positive reaction. I get very inspired by that.” And of course, he brings that back to the office and the factory