White chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate with hazelnuts, chocolate fondue, … Who doesn’t love chocolate? This is exactly what the founder of Dutch chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely must have thought. Yet, his goal slightly differed from most chocolate brands: founder Teun van de Keuken decided that it was time to make a change in the world of chocolate. It came to his knowledge that not one of the Dutch chocolate factories produced slave-free chocolate and therefore, he decided to build up his own, sustainable brand: Tony’s Chocolonely.

The slogan that is on all Tony’s Chocolonely bars is as follows: ‘together we can make chocolate 100% slave-free’. Now why do they not claim to be absolutely 100% slave-free since this was their initial goal? The reason is that the cocoa-industry is very complex. Millions of farmers produce cocoa and billions of customers enjoy the end-product: chocolate. However, it’s not that simple. Somewhere in the middle of this process, there are tons of companies seeking to buy the cheapest cocoa, causing farmers to live in poverty. The result? Child labor and modern slavery, especially in Africa. Tony’s Chocolonely is fighting against this by investing for example in traceable cocoa-beans, stronger farmers (e.g. teach them how to negotiate in the future) and the brand is paying farmers a higher price than they would normally get. The brand is keen on creating awareness among chocolate-lovers, retailers, competitors and many more parties involved. Did you know that the reason why the pieces of Tony’s chocolate bars are uneven, is to illustrate the inequality in the cocoa industry? Eventually, Tony’s wants to set an example and make others follow this example in order to ultimately, create 100% slave-free chocolate all over the world.

Now the question is, why is the brand so popular? It seems as if the chocolate brand is particularly a hype among Millennials. Look up Tony’s Chocolonely on YouTube and you will find the funniest videos of girls and boys trying the crazy flavours created by Tony’s (e.g., popcorn/disco-dip, pretzel/toffee, cookie/caramel). The reason for the intense popularity among Millennials is simple. According to current CEO (Chief Chocolate Officer, as he calls himself) Henk Jan Beltman, this group of people is particularly sensitive for a “story” behind a brand. Moreover, for these people it is about the new experience they get from eating a Tony’s bar, in which the wrapping and the funny flavours play a huge role. All in all, what makes the marketing strategy of Tony’s so successful?

One of the reasons is continuous innovation: e.g., Tony’s recently came out with the flavour white chocolate/raspberry/crackling sugar, need I say more… Moreover, the products are simply of high quality and people love a good story behind a brand, it makes them feel like they are somehow ‘doing good’. Concerning the last point, it must be added that Tony’s distinguishes itself by telling a story that is about much more than just the product. As explained by Olenski (2015), storytelling activates certain functions in our brain that make it easier to remember the message a brand sends. Also, Olenski (2015) states that a story activates parts in the brain that stimulate the reader to convert this story into their own ideas. In other words, by telling a story Tony’s is hoping that the audience will receive their message with greater accuracy. Furthermore, they are seeking to stimulate the audience to start thinking about what they can do to help. In short, this strategy is a way of creating awareness and encouraging people to follow the example Tony’s is trying to set.

It is safe to say that the brand Tony’s Chocolonely is highly successful, not only in the Netherlands but nowadays also in the United States, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Finland and England. The success of Tony’s even got so big that supermarkets started to come up with their own Tony’s look-a-like chocolate bars! Yet, the most important thing for the brand remains -by far- working towards a 100% slave-free cocoa-industry. You’re asking what you can do to help? As recommended by Tony’s Chocolonely themselves: choose your chocolate deliberately, know what you’re eating. In other words: do good and buy a Tony’s chocolate bar. If only you do it for the experience… ;-).