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Brands we love – Divine

You can have the greatest brand in the world, but if no one can get their hands on it you might as well be shouting into a vacuum.

Divine Chocolate had a new business model, a great story to tell but couldn’t show customers where to buy their bars. This is a lesson in how to get your product in front of the right people.


Divine Chocolate began in 1998. Established by a Ghanaian farmers’ collection their aim was to improve the lives of cocoa farmers in West Africa. A successful branded chocolate product in the UK would make those farmers more important and push them up the value chain. The cooperative, called Kuapa Kokoo has 45,000 members in 1300 villages and they own 45% of the business.

Who wouldn’t want to eat that chocolate? It would taste all the sweeter. But people need to be able to buy it to buy in. It’s a cyclical issue; you have to market to help people hear about a product, but how to market if people can’t find it? Retailers need marketing to recognise the potential of a product but you’re back at square one.

The first step was to approach retailers. The Body Shop was the first to stock the chocolate. The commitment to fair trade and a bigger ambition meant the two brands were tied together and were a good crossover. It also meant that Divine could now point their customers towards a store where they could buy their product and use this buy in to win over more retailers.

To get into a major supermarket, Divine encouraged customers to send postcards of the chocolate to the store managers. The store managers knew there was a customer base and they were welcomed into 350 stores. Tying in with other similar brands like the Cooperative, Divine was able to use the brand of their retailers to reinforce their own and reach the right target market who would understand them and help champion them. The thoughtful consumer is a powerful one, if they identify with a product and its purpose they will support it and tell others, an invaluable third party endorsement.

The next step was to diversify their range. Securing new customers is one thing, encouraging them to keep buying is another. New flavours and products offer a range that ensures it’s more attractive to both consumers and retailers. You can always opt for something a little different.

Beginning with a strong story and ethos is valuable and is often what enables a brand to stand head and shoulders above its competitors. Yet without a way to get customers to buy it can too often be ineffectual, making a brand squeak rather than shout their story. It is a slow process that involves going step, by step by step to get in front of the right customers who will champion a brand and that means understanding what you have to sell and communicating your story effectively. Divine have been able to increase the power of their cooperative by making the right decisions and being committed to ensuring they were talking to people who would understand and support their story.