Inspired by the passion and craftsmanship of its founder, Belgian master chocolatier Pierre Draps, and the fierce determination of its namesake Lady Godiva, GODIVA has built an authentic and legendary business centred on its premium-quality chocolate. Here, RLI speaks with the company’s Global CEO Nurtac Afridi about how the business has evolved and what new delights customers can expect in the future.

Encompassing a rich history of almost 100 years, GODIVA has maintained an unwavering commitment to quality in their premium products, its signature packaging and their time-tested production techniques that have earned the highest honours from the Belgian Royal Court.

What makes GODIVA stand out is the taste of their couverture chocolate – a rich, well-balanced, indulgent taste that come from their chocolate’s high cocoa content and the peerless recipes that have been handed down from the founder.

That dedication to chocolate artistry endures today, thanks to the work of their master chefs and their dedicated employees. Today, extraordinary GODIVA products are available in more than 100 countries worldwide, and the journey they are on to exceed consumer’s expectations continues.

GODIVA is a global icon in the world of chocolate and in addition to its presence in e-commerce, in mass grocery and in retail stores across the globe; they also operate brick-and-mortar locations in select markets, tapping into local needs and cultures to delight consumers.

GODIVA Cafe at Yalikavak Marina
Yalikavak, Bodrum, Turkey

“For example, our GODIVA Delight locations are a unique offering of our business in Asia, using a combination of GODIVA’s signature soft serve ice cream combined with local flavours, like black sesame and matcha,” explains Nurtac Afridi, Global CEO of GODIVA. “Likewise, our signature GODIVA Cafes across our Middle Eastern markets provides favourite gathering spots where consumers have the opportunity to linger and enjoy the regional ritual of coffee or tea with GODIVA chocolate. In addition, we’ve long been present in the global travel retail sector, which we consider an invaluable gateway to winning the hearts of new consumers from around the world.”

In recent times the company has experienced strong household penetration and continued growth in new channels, particularly in North America, Greater China and EMEA. Examples of this include a 31 per cent growth in North America and how last year saw the strongest household growth gains from millennial consumers, with sales increasing in the double digits for that target range.

GODIVA Cafe in Izmir (Turkey)

When we ask Afridi about the company’s development pipeline for the next couple of years, she explains that their growth strategy is built upon their investment in innovation. They are continuing to increase the availability of their premium quality chocolate. An example of this is that, recently in the US, they launched individually wrapped artisanal caramels coated in GODIVA chocolate and they have made a version of their iconic Classic Gold box available in their Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) channels.

In addition, they are expanding their offerings of GODIVA biscuits (cookies in the US market) to global grocery retailers, making them individually wrapped for sharing and easy to find on market shelves. Of course, premium gifting will always be at the heart of the brand offer, and they are always finding new ways for consumers to celebrate life’s most special moments with GODIVA.

Speaking on a longer term basis, Afridi says they are looking at expanding their offerings in the health and wellness space, tapping into different dietary needs while always maintaining their signature quality.

“For the rest of 2022, we have plans to expand in Germany and France and increase our footprint in the Middle East. We are also developing our omni-channel approach in these regions while continuing to invest in locally relevant brick-and-mortar formats, like GODIVA Delight or GODIVA Cafes, across the rest of EMEA and Asia.”

GODIVA Cafe interior and products in Izmir (Turkey) copy
GODIVA Cafe interior and products in Izmir (Turkey)

To maintain their position in the market, first and foremost the company listens to their consumers as this helps and informs them on what they want and then the business acts on them insights. They are creating an expanded network of availability of their chocolates across different channels, and this strategy is working.

In addition, they are engaging with their younger consumers on social platforms, expanding their footprint with new retail and licensing partnerships, continuing to re-invigorate their product selection and grounding themselves in purpose.

Their recent innovations have also included expanding the wonder of GODIVA through licensing partnerships. This has included expansions into the world of retail ice cream, bake-at-home cookies, holiday decoration kits, and even luxury ‘chocolate diamonds’. “Our Global Executive Chef Thierry Muret collaborated closely with each partner to ensure that GODIVA’s commitments to innovation, premium ingredients, and quality were reflected in every offering that boasts our partnership,” Afridi explains.

GODIVA Delight Cafe Exterior – China

Launched just recently was the GODIVA is Chocolate campaign, which signalled an important expansion of the GODIVA premium appeal to the global marketplace with exciting, relatable, creative concepts that help position the brand as part of their consumer’s daily lives. As part of this campaign, the brand has partnered with acclaimed internationally-renowned actor Chris Evans to be the voice of the new GODIVA is Chocolate global marketing campaign.

The company’s vision for a sustainable and thriving cocoa industry is one where farmers prosper, communities are empowered, human rights are respected and the environment is conserved and enhanced through regenerative practices.

This starts with ensuring traceability and transparency throughout their cocoa value chain. To date, GODIVA has been able to source 97 per cent of its supply through just two countries: Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, and they have made key investments with on-the-ground partners to ensure smallholder farms are empowered to build both sustainable agriculture and achieve a diversified income stream.

“In the coming years, we are excited to share more as we support our suppliers in the creation of Living Income and labour remediation programs. Through our partnership with Earthworm Foundation, we’ve seen the landscape of cocoa growing communities transformed through training programs and the establishment of innovative credit-building programs like Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs),” explains Afridi.

“These cooperatives dovetail with GODIVA’s mission to empower women globally, as VSLAs give women in cocoa-growing communities’ access to financial resources to pursue their own projects and become entrepreneurs building a more wonderful world,” Nurtac concludes.