Friday, August 29, 2008

Chocolate Overdose

We recently visited Nestle's Cailler chocolate factory in Broc. I loved these old-timey posters they had on display. These were made before art directors became ad directors.

It wasn’t exactly a Willy Wonka experience. No chocolate rivers. No kids turning into blueberries. There were pictures of fruits and chocolate on the wallpaper, but I didn’t try licking them.

Still, the tour concluded with unlimited free samples of Cailler chocolate, which made me wish I’d brought my stretchy pants. Just a room full of people, not quite ready to leave, heading back to the counters to try something new.

But here’s the Seth Godin-style analysis: The unlimited (almost unsupervised) free chocolate room is the last part of the tour. Right before you enter the gift shop with racks and racks of Cailler chocolate at discount prices. But even with the markdown, I was thinking, “Why would I want to buy any of this stuff? I just ate 42 of these for free and now I want to throw up.”

At Disneyland, gift shops are strategically placed at the exits of the more popular rides. Get off the boat at Pirates of the Carribean, and within a few steps you’ve got pistols, eye patches, and skull mugs with plastic ruby eyes. You don't mind paying $18 for a plastic sword, because you're still jazzed on pirates. But after you ride Pirates, you’re not nauseous with a buccaneer overdose.

I'm not sure what a better arrangement would be. How could they entice us without making those of us with little willpower sick? I don’t think you could limit the free samples. That’s part of the draw. (Certainly the reason we drove there.)

I did buy a few bars for friends. Maybe that's all Cailler was hoping for.

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