GODIVA aims to celebrate Valentine’s Day by highlighting all kinds of love and making premium chocolate accessible to all kinds of consumers.

This goal culminated in GODIVA’s recent pop-ups in New York City, where the company offered fans and consumers new to the brand a chance to try its chocolates ahead of the holiday.

Candy Industry recently spoke with John Galloway, CM&IO and interim president of the Americas, GODIVA, about how its retail strategy influenced its approach to Valentine’s Day, its activation in New York City, and its expectations for the season. 

CI: How would you characterize the 2021 Valentine’s Day season?

JG: Valentine’s Day is always one of the busiest times of the year for us. When you think of Valentine’s Day gifts, GODIVA chocolate is always high up on the list.  

Last year, despite the pandemic, demand was high as people continued to purchase, share and send sweet gifts for family, friends, and significant others. However, the shopping behaviors of consumers buying those gifts were a bit different than in the past. As people moved away from traditional retail, e-commerce on GODIVA.com and our product in the chocolate aisles of food, drug, mass channels became an even bigger sales driver for us. We wanted to ensure that our premium chocolates were accessible where consumers were spending time, specifically in grocery and drug stores across the country. 

CI: Are there any insights from last year that GODIVA is carrying into this year’s Valentine’s Day season?

JG: The trend towards e-commerce and CPG retail sales has carried on into this year in a big way. However, we know that consumers are also yearning for in-person experiences, which is why we are popping up in New York City to hand out free samples of our chocolate and spread wonder this Valentine’s Day. Chocolate is always a Valentine’s Day staple. A GODIVA consumer survey found that among those likely to gift chocolate, 86 percent expect to gift the same amount or more as last year and 75 percent plan to purchase the same amount or more online this year. We continue to offer a wide range of products and flavors so that there is truly something for everyone. 

CI: How did GODIVA's focus on the food, drug, and mass retail channels influence its 2022 strategy? What about ecommerce?

JG: As a result of our focus on the food, drug, and mass retail channels, we’ve seen early signs of success and are confident we’re on a path of long-term growth. In the Americas, we are posting strong growth and building market share. In fact, in the U.S. market, total GODIVA 2021 CPG consumption sales were up 28 percent versus 2020. All last year we grew faster than the premium chocolate category and faster than our main competitors. 

We’ve also seen progress in product innovation, with many new product launches as well as limited-edition collections to come in 2022. This success has proven that we are doing something right and it has undoubtedly influenced our 2022 strategy for both e-commerce and CPG. Our current strategy is transforming our nearly 100-year-old company, setting us on a path of profitable and long-term growth, and opening more people’s eyes to the GODIVA brand.

CI: GODIVA recently announced new licensing partnerships. How did that play out for Valentine’s Day?

JG: We recently expanded our licensing portfolio in the U.S. and Canadian markets with the launch of four new partnerships (Boardwalk Frozen Treats, Jimmy's Gourmet Bakery, Le Vian, and Cookies United.) For Valentine’s Day specifically, cobranded GODIVA x Le Vian Chocolate Diamonds pendants launched as a special-edition collection at Kay Jewelers. The pieces are inspired by GODIVA's classic chocolates and iconography. The collection also includes a very limited number of high jewelry parures and ring sets, created for the red carpet.

CI: How did GODIVA approach developing new products for Valentine’s Day this year? Are there any products you’d like to highlight specifically?

JG: Every Valentine’s Day, GODIVA conceptualizes a range of beautifully designed seasonal packaging. This year’s designs reconnect our customers with the wonder and excitement of the holiday spirit and tap into the magic of the gifting occasion and how it makes people feel. We’re also highlighting the fact that all love (not just the romantic love) deserves to be celebrated with the gift of GODIVA. 

This year, based on consumer behavior and preferences, we brought back some Valentine’s Day favorites like our beautiful fabric heart, which can be saved as a keepsake, and our decadent all dark chocolate boxes.   

CI: What was the inspiration behind the NYC activation? What do you hope consumers get out of it?

JG: We wanted to make a big splash and show consumers the love in a big way this Valentine’s Day. In celebration of the holiday, we are activating two Instagram-worthy, larger than life size installations on the streets of New York City. 

Chocolate is synonymous with Valentine’s Day, and we’re hoping to bring our delicious artisanal chocolates to consumers to add a little sweetness to their week. Consumers visited giant Iconic Gold Ballotin and Goldmark Heart boxes Tuesday, Feb. 8 in Herald Square and on Wednesday, Feb. 9 in Flatiron Plaza. We handed out samples on both days, so we hoped lifelong fans of our brand and those who may have never tried GODIVA had a chance to experience our premium chocolates firsthand. 

CI: Does GODIVA anticipate COVID-19 having an effect on sales performance for Valentine’s Day? If so, how? How did GODIVA respond to any COVID-related challenges?

JG: Through the pandemic, we’ve all learned the importance of seizing the moment lest it pass us by. We see that notion reflected consumer shopping behavior, where more people are living in the moment and not hesitating to treat themselves. This Valentine’s Day, we believe that more consumers than ever will be reaching for GODIVA to mark the occasion.

CI: Looking ahead to Easter, what does GODIVA expect to happen?

JG: Our Spring and Easter 2022 launch celebrates our newest whimsical and charming chocolate collections. Our packaging is inspired by florals and draws inspiration from the floral indulgence that consumers seek during spring – a celebration of bright colors and airy themes. We draw reference from freshness, life and joy. We invite our consumers to celebrate spring, Easter, Mother’s Day and everyday celebrations with our chocolates that are sure to delight. 

CI: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

JG: GODIVA is celebrating 95 years of craftsmanship, quality and heritage. Our ambition in 2022 is to bring GODIVA premium chocolates all over the world – to all people, for all occasions. We know our signature chocolate products can inspire happiness and delight, so we want to win over more consumers and make GODIVA accessible wherever and whenever consumers want them. Look out for more exciting activations and brand news that deliver on our purpose of opening people’s eyes to a more wonderful world.