BUSINESS STRATEGY FOR MAUI KUʻIA ESTATE CHOCOLATE
March 31, 2020
The business strategy we used to launch MKEC relied on getting the chocolate out to as many people as possible in the first year so that they could taste it. We believed from our personal experiences with pop-up tastings that once people taste the chocolate and find out where they can get it they will order it. The objective was to have one million people taste the chocolate in the first year and the way we intended to achieve that goal was to focus on selling to our Corporate Partners, the major hotels and restaurants, who would provide it to their guests as amenities, as restaurant dessert offerings and in their gift stores. We expected the people who liked the chocolate and wanted more would seek us out if they were on island (come to our retail store) or order online. That strategy had just been launched and two Corporate Partners, Mama’s Fish House and Old Lahaina Luau, were giving away an individually wrapped 5g piece to every guest. Together that amounts to 560,000 per year so we were well on the way to the one million tastes. Distribution through hotels, other restaurants, and our own promotion of our retail store at the factory would reach the remaining potential customers. We fully expected that most of our business would ultimately be mostly online since visitors returning from their Maui vacations would order online if they liked the chocolate and of course it would remind them of Maui. Our packaging is oriented toward gift boxes that are the perfect omiyage and as amenities for corporate gifts and events such as weddings. There were three legs to support our business, wholesale to Corporate Partners, direct retail at our factory store, and direct online with direct online growing as more visitors tasted the chocolate while on Maui.
After a good start in 2020 with both Mama’s Fish House and Old Lahaina Luau providing good sales momentum, COVID-19 has caused the first two legs of our business to disappear, leaving online retail as our only source of sales revenue. Many businesses do not have an online option so we are grateful to have the opportunity to pursue that option but we had to have a different approach since the original idea of using Corporate Partners and our retail store to introduce us to customers is on hold until the visitors return to Maui.
Starting with an email list that we have been accumulating for a couple of years, we are launching promotions to incentivize those on the list to order chocolate either for their own consumption or as gifts. Our first promotion called “Shelter in Place” was a gift of $50 of chocolate for a flat rate of $10 in shipping costs. In three days we received over 1000 orders. Significantly, a good percentage of those orders included other products in addition to the free Shelter in Place chocolate. We are still catching up with the shipping of that many orders. As soon as we do we will be launching another promotion. We also are seeing that customers who participated in the first promotion are passing on our contact information to others that will end up on our mailing list and become customers. Both the word of mouth and getting excellent products out to our customers will get us through this crisis.
Mahalo nui loa,
Dr. Gunars E. Valkirs
CEO & Food Safety Officer