How Godiva’s New Business Strategy Drives Growth and Advances Social Change

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For nearly 100 years, GODIVA has built a unique and highly successful business focused on premium chocolate. Today, the company is modifying its business strategy in the United States due to the evolution of the retail market and changes in consumer preferences.

Nurtac Afridi, CEO of GODIVA, is leading this change. Since taking office a year ago, she has embarked on a strategy to redefine what premium means to GODIVA, making her chocolate more accessible by expanding her distribution channels in the United States and engaging with consumers in new ways.

Afridi was appointed Global CEO of GODIVA in December 2020 and is a member of the Board of Directors of GODIVA. In this role, she led the transformation of GODIVA’s business, making the company’s premium chocolates more accessible while retaining the rich, indulgent taste and iconic heritage associated with the GODIVA brand.

“It’s been a wonderful year. A year I’ll never forget,” Afridi said. “This has been GODIVA’s biggest transformation ever. I’m so thankful to work with this team. Ever since I started here and got up at 4 a.m., what keeps me going is to collaborate with this diverse team. Their commitment and creativity are integral to this year’s transformation and innovation.”

Afridi is leading all elements of GODIVA’s transformation, including expanding distribution channels, driving product innovation, expanding marketing and licensing, and creating an integrated supply chain.

Godiva’s History and Standards

GODIVA was founded in 1926 in Brussels, Belgium, by the Draps family, who opened their first boutique on Brussels’ Grand Place under their current name in honor of the legend of Lady Godiva. The first store outside Belgium was opened in Paris, rue Saint Honoré in 1958.

“When I got my boarding, one of our quality chefs took me to the sensory tasting table room,” Afridi explained. “I was brought 3 pieces of chocolate from different brands, and we used the five senses to analyze the look, feel, smell, taste, sound and even the aftertaste of each one. Going through all of these senses, you can really tell the difference between each one. I learned that Godiva leaves such a rich, balanced and pleasant aftertaste. That says a lot about its quality.

Afridi joins GODIVA from Yildiz Holding – the parent company of GODIVA – where she is also Director of Strategy and Growth. Afridi was a key member of the team that transformed Yildiz into a global snacking group with over 300 brands available in over 120 countries.

“When you understand what GODIVA is, everything else makes sense,” Afridi said. “It’s about not compromising on ingredients or the production process. We have chefs around the world who are very loyal and strict with our quality and standards. It’s about trust, high standards, celebration, joy, personal reward and rewarding others with the quality and taste of our premium chocolates. That’s what makes GODIVA GODIVA.”

Change your business strategy

Since the creation of GODIVA almost 100 years ago, many things have changed, especially with the emergence of social networks. According to Harvard Business Review, 73% of all customers use multiple channels during their buying journey. Additionally, the State of Commerce Experience 2021 shows that nearly half (44%) of B2C buyers and 58% of B2B buyers say they always or often research a product online before visiting a physical store. Even in store, they will still go online to continue their research.

GODIVA’s new omnichannel strategy and prioritization of key channels – consumer packaged goods (CPG) market, e-commerce, corporate donations, licensing, wholesale and global travel – helps to keep pace and increase the accessibility of products for consumers in general. Customers can now find GODIVA in many fine retailers, supermarkets, pharmacies, online and, depending on the market, in physical stores such as boutiques, cafes and GODIVA Delight.

“We continue to invest in innovation and as we want to be relevant and meet different consumer needs and goals,” Afridi explained. “We want to continue to grow and introduce different varieties of products so they can find chocolate or dessert for any occasion and anyone. Consumers’ needs and expectations are continually changing, so it’s our job to find how best to serve them. And what’s relevant to the US may not be relevant to China, so we also want to be mindful of local tastes and preferences.”

Speaking with Afridi, it’s clear that GODIVA wants to democratize premium chocolate and ensure it’s available and accessible to everyone. “We don’t want GODIVA to feel exclusive to certain groups or holidays,” she adds. “We want to make our products accessible to everyone, all year round, whether they buy online or at the mall.”

Driving growth and advancing social change

The National Retail Federation predicted holiday sales in November and December would grow between 8.5% and 10.5% in 2020 to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion. These figures exclude car dealerships, gas stations and restaurants.

Based on data from Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) of US growth figures literature, Afridi reported that its overall consumer packaged goods (CPG) consumption was +37% this year. until November, including their Club channel.

“At IRI’s Total US Multi-Outlet chain, we saw a very strong start to the holiday season, +54% in November,” says Afridi. “We are growing 2x faster than the Premium Chocolate segment and we expect this to continue until the end of the season.”

In addition to looking to 2022 to ensure they continue to drive growth and meet sustainability goals, GODIVA is also helping drive social change forward through its The Lady Godiva initiative.

The Lady GODIVA initiative was developed to recognize and support five non-profit organizations around the world – the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Belgium and China. Organizations were selected to empower women and positively impact society while embracing GODIVA’s mission to spread awareness of these progressive initiatives in hopes of creating a better future.

“There are various women and communities where women want to be empowered,” Afridi said. “They just need a bit of support because they have the potential.”

This year, GODIVA will support Hot Bread Kitchen in the USA, an organization that has changed the lives of hundreds of women by providing careers in the food industry. Through its support of women, immigrants, and people of color, Hot Bread Kitchen provides stable jobs and growth opportunities that enable women to succeed and thrive in the workforce.

Much like Lady Godiva herself, who has paved the way for empowering members of her community, Afridi hopes the Lady GODIVA Initiative champions diversity, equity and inclusion on a global scale.

She also has tips for women looking to advance their careers and businesses. they or they are passionate. “They have to have confidence in themselves and believe in what they can do,” she advises. “And keep learning and keep investing. There’s no end. They should do better every day; they’ll always be ahead. Finally, make sure they invest in their careers. That way, they will always win and succeed.”

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