Godiva: Branding the customer experience

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The Desgrippes Gobé group begins the design process with SENSE® – a strategy which derives design concepts from the real life experiences of its target audience. They closely analyse the importance of a particular product in a consumer’s lifestyle and how the consumer is emotionally connected to the brand. The research findings are put together in the form of visual images followed by an exploration in the fields of graphic design, architecture, industrial design and interactive design. The end result is a powerful strategy for cohesive branding that can trigger an emotional response and give the brand a competitive edge.

Godiva commissioned the Desgrippes Gobé group to redesign it’s flagship store on fifth avenue in New York. They used the SENSE® methodology to do a sensory evaluation of the product. Godiva stores were branded to be a luxury chocolate brand only approachable to a few. By choosing sophisticated colours like black and gold for their packaging and by displaying their chocolates behind luxurious glass cases, Godiva suggested that indulgence was only meant for the elite. The Desgrippes Gobé group realised that the customers felt intimidated by the brand and in order to provide a more inviting brand experience, Godiva should capitalise on indulgence and affordable luxury. They figured that the Generation X and Generation Y consumers were more attracted by experiences.

“Understanding your customer well and catering to the taste and the aspiration is the key to building a long-lasting relationship. A well-crafted retail experience is why people keep enjoying those wonderful chocolates” – Marc Gobé

The new store design was inspired the art nouveau style with gold and brass elements.  They used dark cherry wood tones which added warmth to the store. A more approachable chocolate display was designed and individual pieces of unwrapped chocolate promoted a more welcoming and less intimidating experience for the customers. Another brilliant way to facilitate interaction was the decision to add a chocolate dipping fountain by the store window which encourage passers-by to indulge in luxurious chocolate experience. The new retail design increased Godiva’s sales by 20 to 30 percent. 1 Owing to this success, the retail design from the flagship store in new York was implemented worldwide.

Customer experience plays a vital role in how the brand is perceived externally. Retail spaces are intrinsically connected with brand experiences and must evoke the brand values and promises with utmost clarity. By understanding the needs and desires of the new generation of consumers Godiva adapted to the changing trends in consumer buying behaviour.


1. Desgrippes,J., Gobe,M., Hellman, A., (2007) Joel Desgrippes and Marc Gobe on the Emotional Brand Experience. Beverly, Mass: Rockport Publishers. pp 132-135.
Image source: http://www.godiva.com/chocolate-truffles
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