Chocolate is a multi-billion dollar industry – a fact that comes as no surprise. Everyone loves chocolate, but does everyone like the same kind of chocolate? With hundreds of chocolate brands competing for market share in the world, our team at Kadence International conducted market research to understand how our taste buds define our preferences for chocolate around the region.
We asked consumers in Singapore, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, China, and Australia what they look for when purchasing chocolate. It might come as a no-brainer that taste is the number one factor consumers consider when buying chocolate. But consumers from every country within the region had their own unique tastes and preferences. In Thailand, taste represented a whopping 78% of what Thais look for in chocolate. To them, really nothing else matters. But on average, taste represented about half of what people look for (46%), which clearly shows consumers want more from their chocolate than just taste.
Taste is a broad idea. This study also found that consumers across different countries have different interpretations of what makes chocolate ‘tasty.’ Singaporeans and Indonesians, for instance, like their chocolates sweeter than Taiwanese consumers, while the Thai look for chocolate aroma.
Moving beyond taste, this is when consumer preferences start to really differ between countries. Chocolate texture clinches second place in several markets – Singapore (27%), Australia (24%), India (26%), and Malaysia (25%). But here again, there are contrasting views towards what constitutes good texture. Australians value silkiness, a smooth and creamy chocolate bar with a good texture. The same cannot be said for Malaysians or Singaporeans, who like their chocolates to have a bit of crunch in them. Chocolates with nuts or cookie fillings are well received in the island nation.
While chocolate is universally loved, every country has its unique reasons for loving it.
For other countries, the second most important attribute has little to do with texture or the properties of chocolate. It was about the benefit it gave them. In China, consumers care more about meeting their rational needs – having the energy boost from chocolates came in second (16% versus the average of 5%). Interestingly, this is not the case in neighboring Taiwan, where the focus is much more emotional, and consumers are looking for the feel-good factor they get from a chocolate bar.
Japanese consumers enjoy chocolates while paying close attention to their diet, and calorie content is the second-most important factor for the Japanese. In fact, Japan is the only nation in the study to be deeply concerned with health when it comes to chocolate. Culture and tradition are very important to the Japanese people, and they are diligent in keeping up their appearance, and that reflects in their chocolate preferences.
Price consideration came in as third across several countries. Of these price-conscious consumers, the Japanese (75%), Taiwanese (68%), and Indonesians (62%) want their chocolates to be wallet-friendly while those in China and India are more concerned about the quality they get from their chocolate. This makes pricing strategies an important element for chocolate brands.
As might be expected, the taste is the hygiene factor of chocolate and is the main reason consumers buy it. From taste and texture to how it makes them feel about themselves, the demands for chocolate across the region differ in many ways. So while chocolate is universally loved, every country has its own unique reasons for loving it.
With this in mind, chocolate and confectionary companies venturing into the Asian markets should closely monitor how they brand themselves and how they convey their product value proposition to their consumers. Whether they want to be known for an energy boost that parallels Red Bull or as the brand that offers a silky smooth finish or just dials up its health credentials, it is imperative to tailor communications to meet the desires of each country. In other words, not treating the APAC region as a single idea, a universal market to target, is a good place to start.
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