Montezuma’s has had the same principles from day one of setting up its business in 2000 with a little chocolate shop in Brighton – business done properly. The brand promotes the fact that it heralds substance over style, and sustainable and organic business growth over greed. In essence, it cares about people, the planet and its product – and it wants its customers to know it.
“To earn someone’s trust – whether a customer, employee, friend, acquaintance – you need to be credible, reliable and, above all else, honest,” says Moore, who joined the business in 2019. When dealing with our customers, the credibility comes from the quality and expertise that goes into our products. Reliability depends on us doing what we say we will and delivering on time, managing expectations ahead of time if we’re not able to meet our normal service levels.
“And then honesty is charging a fair price for our products. Sometimes that can mean having difficult conversations.”
Last year, the brand changed the packaging across the whole range so that every single component is either recyclable or compostable. This meant the costs of the business significantly increased. However, in order to cultivate that relationship with the customer, the brand chose not to pass on that cost to the consumer, but instead to reduce the size of the bars from 100g to 90g to make up the cost – and explain exactly what was happening.
“There was a mix of feedback on that message,” says Moore. “Some trade customers were initially trying to push for a price decrease at the same time. But actually from our consumers it was really positive. Some people said they didn’t even notice the weight differences and they were happy to shift away from foil or plastic.”
But honesty alone isn’t enough for Montezuma’s. In the sustainability sphere, it is going a step further and seeking “transparency”, according to Moore. The business is in the process of applying for B Corp certification and is planning to publish more data on its sustainability efforts.
“Later this month, we’re going to release an initial impact report, which includes our carbon footprint and impact on our other key stakeholder groups. Creating this report has made us look at recording more things so that we can have a much better idea of our full impact.”
The brand is also publishing targets and will measure and publish its performance related to those findings.
“I think people are starting to make more purchasing decisions around sustainability,” says Moore. “And it’s something I think we’re quite well placed to benefit from because of the culture within the business. There’s a real appetite for doing things the right way.”
While sustainability is crucially important to being a responsible business, central to the customer/business relationship for Montezuma is the chocolate itself, and the trust that it’s worth the money. Being a small business, Montezuma’s is still quite agile in terms of creating and testing new products.
“I’ve previously worked at bigger companies where it can take you two years to turn around an idea. Whereas we have a kitchen on-site and a chocolatier who will hand-make some samples very quickly,” says Moore. “All new products then go through a new product-development process, managed by a marketing team. Then it goes through a sense check with our original founders who are still involved in the business.”
Suggestions for new flavours can come from trade customers, consumers themselves, the business or through suggestion boxes in stores. Ultimately, Montezuma’s wants customers to have as much fun with the product as it does, so they keep coming back for more.
“In our retail stores and our sales team presentations, we deliver what we call ‘Montezuma’s Magic’,” says Moore. “The aim is that every customer comes in leaving happier than when they arrived.”
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