Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Branding & Marketing of Shopping malls essential - says Top Award winning UK retailer Hotel Chocolat

Branding and marketing of shopping malls essential - 

Says Top Award winning UK retailer Hotel Chocolat

This is the first in a series of interviews from the recent ICSC European Marketing conference held in London, where Mosaic PR Warsaw talks with leading retailers, 
mall owners, and international brands.

Smooth lines for a smooth brand with smooth tasting products !

Hotel Chocolat, a brand, whose products, outlets and marketing have won it handfuls of awards and recognition, were represented by Darren Williams, their Head of Retail 
at the ICSC European Marketing conference held in May in London this year.

Hotel Chocolat is a luxury British chocolatier and cocoa grower, Hotel Chocolat, was founded in 2004 to make exciting chocolate with three guiding principles – 
authenticity, originality and ethics – which remain central to the brand’s success today.

With its Rabot Estate cocoa plantation in Saint Lucia, a chocolate manufacturing facility in Huntingdon and stores across the UK and internationally, Hotel Chocolat occupies a unique space – being able to link all aspects of chocolate from the tree to the consumer.

The company has stores in major cities and market towns throughout the UK, concessions in John Lewis stores nationwide, and stores in the USA, Denmark and The Netherlands.

In 2011 Hotel Chocolat opened a real hotel in the grounds of Rabot Estate on Saint Lucia, which is also home to the Boucan Restaurant and its pioneering menu of ‘cacao cuisine’. 

Recent awards include – Several wins at The Great Taste Awards &
the Academy of Chocolate Awards;  Number 1 spot in ‘The Sunday Times Fast Track 100;  
and being one of the UK’s prestigious ‘CoolBrands’ for the fourth year running.

As well as being named by Cond√© Nast Traveller Hot List 2012 as a top new hotel with “understated luxury with a hint of sex appeal”  and being titled as the ‘most advocated’ British brand in the UK in research by Bain & Co 2011. 

Mosaic PR, spoke with Darren Williams, Head of Retail at Hotel Chocolat to find out what Hotel Chocolat sees as crucial for  their relationships with malls and in their marketing.

Darren Williams, Head of Retail at Hotel Chocolat

So, Darren, welcome, as we discussed, in the Central Eastern Europe (CEE ) region, malls don’t seem to have always paid the best attention to marketing and branding.

I wanted to get a top retailer’s opinions of some the issues 
that arise from that deficit on the branding front .

What to a strongly branded retailer like yourself makes you choose
 between one shopping centre and another?

Thanks for the welcome, For us It’s a mix of important factors.

The city or town that the centre is in needs to be the right demographic for us as well as the centre being right for us, with neighbouring brands that fit with Hotel Chocolat.  

The location of the store in the centre also matters, 
every mall seems to have its ‘black-spots’ .

 So to add to those selection criteria, Darren, how important to Hotel Chocolat
 is the profile and brand strength of the malls or locations you select?

Hotel Chocolat Monmouth St London WC1

Its very important, as is of course the commercial success. 
It needs to be a centre that has got proven credentials in being a compelling place
 to visit, or in the case of a new centre it needs to have 
the ‘wow’ factor and a tenant mix to match.

So how important is it to Hotel Chocolat , that your selected locations have an active ongoing marketing plan which involves the tenants and seeks their participation?   

For Hotel Chocolat, the relationship between tenant and centre 
is a vital one, so exceedingly important.

Both parties should have an interest in each other. 
We expect all our store managers to attend tenant meetings with their centres. 

So how much of a role does social media and the Internet play in Hotel Chocolat’s marketing, and what would you say to retailers 
or shopping centres who aren’t using this medium?

Roast and Conch in Hotel Chocolat

Its importance is growing  all the time, and has really gathered pace in the last year especially. If retailers aren’t using this now,  they need to start, or they will lose touch 
with the way their customers want to communicate.

Can you tell us about the experience of visiting Hotel Chocolat, and what customer satisfaction means to your brand and tell me how seriously you take this?

Well, I think the name of our approach says it all. Its “100% Happiness” 
and we exist to make our Guests happy!

We sell amazing chocolate, you should leave our stores feeling that way.

Some of the amazing high cocoa content chocolate on offer at Hotel Chocolat

"In terms of how serious we take this?

Well, its our number one priority and always will be.

And you never ‘get there’ its never something you can say ‘job done’ about .

We always want to be better"

100% happiness is a strong statement but I can see where this matches your products & pleasure they bring to your customers, the fact you say you never get there IE to the target,
it seems you are working hard to deliver this experience in store and brand interaction.

Given the sweet tooth of Central Eastern Europe and Russia
does Hotel Chocolat have any expansion plans in the future in these markets?

“Not in the immediate future but we never say never!

Its important to stress though, that Hotel Chocolat chocolate is more cocoa
and less sugar, it is our important point of difference !”
Tempting prospects from Hotel Chocolat

Many thanks for sparing us your time Darren, and for giving us an insight in to retailers needs from shopping centre owners, and the demands you place on your own business.

If you are an asset or property manager managing shopping centres in Central Eastern Europe and wish to find out more about branding and marketing your centre with a communication strategy which delivers the businesses' objectives then contact us via clicking on the buttons to the right to go to our website, twitter or  Facebook page.

Hotel Chocolat does sell its gorgeous products online so all you

Chocolate addicts reading this who aren't based where Hotel Chocolat has outlets
go to  and feast your eyes on the goodies
you can buy and have sent to you !

If you wish to find out more about Hotel Chocolat find them on Facebook
or via their website as shown above. 

If you have a question or want to talk shopping mall or retail marketing with us,
click any of the buttons on the right or contact us via  Mosaic PR Warsaw


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