A new report by the National Confectioners Association (NCA) is taking a detailed look at chocolate consumers, their preferences and their impact on the chocolate retail experience.
The report, called “Getting to Know Chocolate Consumers,” was underwritten by the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA), which also assisted in developing the survey questionnaire. The research was conducted by 210 Analytics.
 “This deep analysis of the chocolate consumer should be helpful to everyone in the industry – from manufacturers to suppliers and our retail customers,” said John Downs, NCA president and ceo. “Understanding how people enjoy chocolate helps us develop a clearer idea of what lies ahead for this very important part of the confectionery industry. Chocolate is a significant piece of our industry, representing about 60 percent of the confectionery industry’s sales, or nearly $21 billion annually.”
The report explains the demographics of the chocolate consumer, as well as overall chocolate purchasing patterns. Providing choice to the consumer continues to be key as the preferences for types of chocolate, cacao percentages and added flavors or ingredients vary widely across age groups and demographics. 
“The insights show that Millennials are changing purchasing patterns for chocolate, with an above-average preference for fine chocolate and likelihood for purchasing treats at supercenters, specialty/organic stores and alternative channels,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, principal and founder of 210 Analytics LLC. “In line with the generation’s socially conscious reputation, we found that Millennial shoppers also demonstrate a clear preference for certifications and specific production and ingredient claims.”
The report also divides chocolate consumers into three segments, with distinct definitions for a mainstream chocolate consumer, a premium chocolate consumer and a fine chocolate consumer. Findings from the report indicate that the fine chocolate consumer explores a variety of channels to locate small artisan chocolatiers that source high quality cacao.
“We found that the fine chocolate consumer is generally younger, more socially conscious and more driven by experimentation and trial, even if they already have a favorite chocolatier,” said Bill Guyton, executive director of FCIA. “Fine chocolate consumers believe small-batch chocolate has a superior taste and are willing to seek it out, visiting farmer’s markets, festivals and specialty online channels more frequently than other chocolate consumers.”
More insights into the chocolate consumer can be found in the key findings and executive summary. Interested parties can learn more at the “Getting to Know the (Fine) Chocolate Consumer” session at the 2019 Sweets & Snacks Expo at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22.