Godiva Thrives through Innovation

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Godiva Continues its Traditions

The iconic gold ballotin box, the readily recognizable bon bon shapes, the smooth delicious chocolates-the one and only Godiva.  As lifelong chocolate fan, some of our earliest exposure to luxury chocolate was a single Godiva chocolate.  Still close to our heart is their milk chocolate shell filled with hazelnut praline.  So what makes Godiva such an icon?  Let’s look a little deeper.

The History of Godiva Chocolatier


It’s not surprising that Godiva Chocolatier, originated in Brussels, Belgium. For generations, Belgium has had a tradition of perfectionism, from its Rubens paintings and gothic architecture to products made of intricate lace, glittering crystal and its fabulous cuisine.

In keeping with this tradition, Joseph Draps introduced Godiva chocolate to Belgium in 1926. Draps opened the doors to his shop on a cobblestone street on Grande Place, selling his unique formula of rich chocolate with unparalleled smoothness. With a remarkable eye for detail, he set forth the standard at Godiva for innovative selection of elegant, European shell-molded designs and beautiful packaging.

Through the years, these standards have been maintained as assiduously as Draps’ recipes have been guarded. As a result of this adherence to Draps heritage, Godiva chocolates evoke the greatest in confectionery excellence. The same careful attention to quality is apparent in the exquisite European-style gold ballotins and handcrafted seasonal packaging that have earned Godiva a reputation for design excellence.

Global Expansion

As the success of Godiva Chocolatier grew in Belgium, Joseph Draps sought to expand the company into international horizons. The first Godiva boutique outside of Belgium was opened in 1958 in Paris on the fashionable Rue St. Honoré. Openings in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and more followed.

The Godiva brand then looked to North America. Godiva made its North American debut in 1966, at one of the country’s most elegant department stores, Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1972, the first Godiva boutique in North America opened on New York’s fashionable Fifth Avenue. Today there are over 275 Godiva boutiques in North America.

Since its introduction to America in 1966, Godiva continues to be the leader in the premium confectionery category. Godiva Chocolatier owns and operates more than 450 boutiques and shops worldwide where consumers can find a comprehensive selection of Godiva offerings. Godiva products are also available at finer department and specialty stores. Additionally, the company issues six seasonal mail-order catalogs a year in North America and accepts phone and internet orders.

From New York to Paris to Tokyo, it is Godiva that brings the best of Belgium to the world.

Godiva Now

For the past 10 years, the fastest growing segment of the confectionery industry is the luxury chocolate segment.  Premium-priced chocolates are gaining in popularity following several widely publicized studies that pointed to health benefits associated with eating dark chocolate. Fancy chocolate weathered the recession better than many other luxuries because, like an upscale cup of coffee, even an expensive chocolate is a relatively inexpensive way to indulge.

Couple the great health new about chocolate with growing competition due to the explosion of artisan chocolatiers and craft chocolate makers and the call to action for companies like Godiva was urgent.  These new entries created a competitive challenge that has forced larger chocolatiers like Godiva, to innovate in order to maintain their customer base while luring new customers to their brand.  What Godiva and many of their competitors have learned is that it is not business as usual.

For Godiva, it meant coming up with new forms of chocolates for consumers as well an offering their chocolate in new places.  The competition in grocery and drugstores has been some of the fiercest.  Cadbury, Rocher, Hershey, Russel Stover and more are fighting for shelf-space to display their ever-growing line of munchable treat to these customers.

Godiva management believes there are three basic reasons people purchase luxury chocolate:  gifts, sharing with a group, and for the purchaser to eat.  Enter Godiva individually wrapped truffles, new flavor lines, chocolate-covered almonds, and jumbo candy bars.  Godiva is also selling cupcakes and brownies online and adding new products like chocolate-covered Oreos to their boutiques.


So has the refocus yielded positive results?  Godiva reports double-digit growth year to date.  I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.

photos courtesy of shopcardparty.com, godiva.com, maryeaudet.com

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