The U.S. market for chocolate products displayed its recession resiliency, as retail sales increased 3% from 2008 to reach a record $17 billion in 2009, according to "Chocolate Market in the U.S.: Trends and Opportunities in Premium, Gourmet and Mass Chocolate Products," by market research publisher Packaged Facts. The growth was attributed to the 75% of Americans who have purchased chocolate products since 2008 and increases in manufacturer prices, which didn't discourage budget-conscious households from buying quality chocolate as an affordable indulgence.
Global demand for chocolate is expected to rise over the next several years, as the market capitalizes on chocolate's incredible ability to shapeshift into an array of products suitable for the confectionery, beverage, restaurant, hospitality and personal care industries. Packaged Facts forecasts the U.S. chocolate market will exceed $19 billion in 2014. The demand for premium chocolate will persist as a leading growth trend, especially when the economy recovers. The healthy chocolate trend, featuring "better-for-you"? ingredients such as lavender and blueberry, is likewise expected to fuel the market as a subset of product premiumization.
"For many chocolate-loving Americans it's more about the experience than it is about mere consumption. To meet this demand, premium chocolatiers are setting off on culinary adventures, discovering new layers of flavor and textures by experimenting with umami flavors or developing products to match consumers' moods," says Don Montuori, publisher of Packaged Facts. "This may be a mature market, but it's also a market that isn't afraid to innovate, whether that means using savory influences such as bacon and cheese or ethnic flavors such as curry and chipotle. This bold creativity effectively provides chocolate products that satisfy diverse consumer palates at reasonable prices."
Creativity is particularly important when marketing to notoriously brand-averse and highly skeptical consumer segments such as the Millennials, for whom product preference is a moving target and eating is all about culinary experimentation with limited-edition flavor items and internationally inspired twists. Not only must marketers realize the potential of online social networks as vehicles of influence comparable to conventional media channels, but chocolate manufactures must provide this cohort with confectionery products featuring fresh, seasonal and natural ingredients and out-of-this-world flavor combinations, such as those developed by the beverage and restaurant trades.[Source: "Chocolate Market in the U.S.: Trends and Opportunities in Premium, Gourmet and Mass Chocolate Products." Packaged Facts. 26 Aug. 2010. Web. 10 Sept. 2010.]