How, for example, do you successfully tell an exciting story about your product? And the story of Tony’s Chocolonely, this little Dutch start-up that has revolutionised the confectionery industry on its own and changed nothing less than the world – this story makes you really happy.
What is there to tell about chocolate? It’s sweet. Delicious. Bad for your waistline. But it makes us happy. Really happy? Unfortunately, not everybody in the world. At the other end of the value chain are the many millions of cocoa farmers who often toil for our chocolate bars under inhumane conditions. This was a thorn in the side of Dutch businessman Teun van de Keuken. In 2005, he founded the start-up Tony’s Chocolonely with the aim of making chocolate that is 100 percent free of slavery.
14 years later, the chocolate start-up is the market leader in the Netherlands (ahead of the usual industry giants) and has now arrived in many European countries and North America. How could such a small start-up do this?
Tony’s “Choco Evangelist” at our Ray Talk, Ynzo van Zanten, gave inspiring and humorous insights into how Tony’s Chocolonely used clear messaging and smart storytelling to become the market leader in fair-produced chocolate – without paid media.
Ray Talk | Changing the chocolate industry | Ynzo van Zanten | Tony’s Chocolonely
Why does this chocolate bar look so funny?
At first glance, it’s obvious this chocolate is different. Of course, there are countless varieties, and of course, it’s absolutely delicious. But a bar of Tony’s Chocolonely looks quite different to what you would expect.
The bar is divided into pieces of varying sizes – representing the injustices in the industry. And even the outlines of some of the producing countries can be seen if you look closely. It’s a simple, but effective way to start a conversation. You almost have to tell the story when you share a bar with friends.
“If you think you’re too small to achieve something, try to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room”
Like this proverbial mosquito, Tony’s Chocolonely understands its position in the chocolate business, explains Ynzo van Zanten. Tony’s wants to lead by example to force the big industrial players to change. This obviously means transparency in the origin of the raw materials, genuine commitment to farmers, but above all, a higher price for each chocolate bar. This is the only way to ensure fair pay at the other end of the value chain.
Smart: With almost 200 grams per bar, Tony’s Chocolonely is significantly larger than the usual chocolate bar. In the end, the extra price hardly stands out, and after all, you are contributing to a fairer chocolate world with every bite.
Such a story attracts. Last year, the chocolate factory near Amsterdam had 300,000 visitors. This makes it one of the country’s top tourist attractions.
“We are not chocolate makers; we are impact makers through chocolate” – says Ynzo van Zanten from Tony’s Chocolonely
On the fringes of the Ray Talk, we were able to win Tony’s “Choco Evangelist” Ynzo van Zanten for an interview. In it, he describes how to combine a difficult key message with a specialty product, and which communication mix works better for Tony’s Chocolonely than paid media.
Our top 3 takeaways from Tony’s Chocolonely
- Focus! Focus! Focus! A clear key message is noticeable in the entire brand communication.
- A strong story doesn’t need paid media.
- All company activities can be aligned with an authentic purpose.
About Ray Talks
The Ray Talk is a regularly occurring series in which our customers, partners, experts, pioneers, and inspiration providers from many industries exchange views on a key topic. And finally, to the topic: “Content is experience!” There are always interesting speakers on our stage who share their experiences and give us impulses.