Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate is producing a catalog for the first time in more than four years. The St. Louis-based chocolatier in September mailed 65,000 copies of an eight-page book. Most of the catalogs (70%) were distributed in the St. Louis/Illinois area, says company founder/president Dan Abel Sr.; the rest went to new customers nationwide. “We have a catalog request page on our Website that can get up to 500 requests a day,” Abel says, “and we will continue to print new catalogs as needed throughout the year, since it is not just a holiday catalog.”
The company wanted a way to feature its top-selling products to existing customers as well as target a larger audience, Abel explains. “We have been constantly refining our product selection, and after years of work, it was the perfect time to let everyone know about our featured products through a new catalog.”
Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate had produced a catalog four years ago that was inserted into copies of the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the Belleville News Democrat, and distributed in the stores, Abel says. That catalog was originally planned “to grow our name in St. Louis and Illinois, since we had opened seven new stores in two years.”
The catalog did help bring in customers to the stores, Abel says, “but we did not have the anticipated phone orders. We did not have an e-commerce Website four years ago either, which may have hurt us.”
Since the last catalog, the company has won awards for best chocolate, best product, fastest-growing company, and most popular new franchise, he adds. “We have grown to 12 retail stores, gained substantial wholesale accounts, and now have the capability to grow in the mail order market.” Gaining greater recognition nationwide is a key objective with the book, Abel says. “The catalog was designed to highlight some of our more unique and signature chocolates, along with our popular boxed chocolates and premium truffles,” he says.
EYE ON ASIA
While the catalog will help it expand beyond the St. Louis/Illinois area, Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate is also setting its sights on a market much farther away: China. Considering opening a store in Beijing, Abel plans to visit the Chinese capital early this year.
“We have been contacted by a person in the United States who has a business that has offices in the U.S. and Beijing,” Abel explains. “He has several contacts in both the U.S. and China, and would be willing to train in the United States at our St. Louis operation and then open a franchise in a high-end retail section of Beijing.”
Abel notes that the chocolate in China is imported, “and there is a need for premium chocolate brands inside China. With our stores, all the chocolates are made on premises and customers can watch chocolates being made through a window in the retail store.” If it works out, next year’s Summer Olympics in Beijing could be a key marketing tool for the company, he notes.
“We are always looking for new franchise locations for our stores,” Abel says. “Our new catalog, Website sales, and nationwide wholesale accounts show that we have a great potential to expand in new markets. Asia could just be the beginning of creating a worldwide gourmet chocolate brand.”