Sydney’s first KitKat Chocolatory officially opens to the public on Monday, bringing an air of decadence to the classic chocolate bar which has delighted consumers for nearly 85 years.
The boutique store focuses primarily on customisation to bring unique products to guests, while showcasing local and international flavour innovations to broaden the customer experience.
Nestlé’s general manager of confectionery Chris O’Donnell told Inside FMCG that the goal was to “wow” consumers.
“The intention was to create a concept that really brought to life the creativity of KitKat and to bring something that was next level for the brand, but also really immersive for the consumer,” he said.
The Chocolatory concept was based on a pop-up KitKat Studio which opened for four weeks in Sydney back in 2015, O’Donnell explained. The first KitKat Chocolatory then opened in Melbourne and through that process the team identified the type of experience that consumers were looking for.
“As we started to look to Sydney, we really looked at how we could take that to the next level what could we bring to Sydney that would create a concept that would really wow consumers,” he said.
“We brought new ideas, new experiences, that bring to life not only that creativity but gives people a much more personal experience that you can’t get anywhere else in the world.”
The store offers a feast for the senses, with flowing chocolate, a wall of unusual flavours from around the world, a Chocolate Train with a rotation of unique flavours in single finger form, and a cafe serving up hot and cold chocolate and cookies.
Create Your Break allows visitors to design their own eight finger KitKat, from up to 30,000 possible combinations, to be created there and then by in-store chocolatiers, while the KitKat Tasting Table presents a selection of premium desserts that champion the classic bar in a variety of ways.
O’Donnell told Inside FMCG that creating a “next level” experience is essential to connect with today’s consumers.
“Connecting with consumers is becoming increasingly difficult, the marketing mix is changing, and for brands to really connect with consumers, they need to create a connection that’s more based on experience than it is based on you know the historical telling of advertising,” he said.
“For me, this was a critical part of the journey that KitKat has been on, which is about offering much more personalised, much more experience-based content, and bringing something to consumers that you just can’t get anywhere else.”
Supplementing the store, is KitKat’s e-commerce site which offers the same products and customisation to consumers online. O’Donnell said the online store has experienced “phenomenal growth” in recent months.
“There’s nothing like experiencing it firsthand yet, but for those who can’t come to the store that’s what online is there for. Our e-commerce platform over the last three to four months has experienced phenomenal growth, of up to 400 per cent. So if [consumers] are not in Sydney or Melbourne or can’t get into the store then that obviously gives the brand much more reach across Australia to provide people with personalisation and customisation at home,” he said.
O’Donnell is hopeful that the store will drive the confectionery giant’s pipeline of innovation.
“We can use this as an innovation incubator, we can trial new things relatively quickly. In retail, to develop a new product it might take six to 12 months, we can do it here in six to 12 hours. That allows us to test something and get an instant reaction from the consumer. That gives us really good insights on what could work in retail,” he said.
“We have some ideas coming out next year that we’ve tested in here. We’ll use this on an ongoing basis to help drive our pipeline of innovation.”
The Chocolatory has also allowed the brand to connect with younger shoppers that are not yet consumers of the brand, and has helped it reconnect with those consumers that have drifted away from the brand over the years.
“What we learned through the Chocolatory in Melbourne is that we had somewhere between 30-40 per cent of people coming into the store that hadn’t tried KitKat before, or weren’t regular consumers of KitKat. We then learned that those people who then experienced KitKat through the Chocolatory began buying back in retail, so it helped build our base business as well,” he said.
“There’s a circular economy of people who come in here, that then get the brand experience and then really start to engage with the brand.”