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One-of-a-kind wrappers melt chocolate lovers’ hearts

Tony’s runs an annual limited-edition campaign across three flavors

Each year, Tony’s Chocolonely creates a set of unique chocolate bars with inventive flavors. For its 2018 limited edition, with the theme of ‘You’re One of a Kind’, it wrapped every single bar in a unique wrapper created using HP SmartStream Mosaic technology.

Tony’s Chocolonely is a Netherlands-based company started in 2005 with the mission of making 100 percent slave-free the norm in chocolate. Among its activities, Tony’s works to address exploitation in the chocolate supply chain to ensure farmers receive a living income that eliminates the need for child and slave labor. 

Today, Tony’s produces a wide range of chocolate bars that are traceable all the way back to the bean. In addition, Tony’s Chocolonely bars stand out with their inventive flavors, distinctive packaging, and their division into irregular pieces instead of squares. 

Another way that Tony’s differentiates itself is through annual limited editions of three unique chocolate flavors that are marketed only via its web shop, as well as gift and specialty shops. Tony’s first customers were mostly independent shops, and after expanding distribution to the conventional retail market, it looked for a way to help its original customer segment stand out. 

Fleur Marnette de Vries, product manager at Tony’s Chocolonely, notes: ‘We thought of the limited editions, with crazy flavors, as a special concept for this.’

Having initially only been available in the Netherlands, where they proved hugely successful, availability of the 2018 limited edition was extended to the US to create new sales opportunities and offer consumers a new kind of experience.

Personalization campaign 
To support this and the campaign’s theme, Tony’s wanted a unique concept for the packaging. This resulted in the personalization campaign and more than 500,000 one-of-a-kind chocolate wrappers, which Marnette de Vries describes as a present to its own customers. ‘Every year, with our limited editions, we want to give our gift store and small shop customers a differentiation and offer something new and exciting for consumers. This year, when we expanded the concept to the US, we wanted to bring extra fun and excitement into the brand.’

Wihabo, a long-time print partner of Tony’s, suggested unique wrappers as a way to differentiate its products. Tony’s in-house graphic designer developed three unique seed designs, one for each chocolate flavor. Wihabo used HP SmartStream Mosaic dynamic personalization software to generate hundreds of thousands of variations of each design. Each seed design integrated orange elements with two other colors, distinguishing the three flavors while maintaining a unified look across the edition. A total of 540,000 unique wrappers were then produced on an HP Indigo 12000 digital press in a 7-color printing process, on over 83,000 sheets of 100 percent recycled paper. From design kick-off to printed packaging, the process took about three months. 

It was completed in June, ready for a September launch ahead of the end-of-year gifting season. Most of the bars were earmarked for Tony’s customers in the Netherlands, with around 90,000 shipped to the US. In another first, Tony’s offered its consumer newsletter subscribers an opportunity to pre-order personalized limited edition chocolate bars. In this special offer, the purchaser’s name was printed on the side of wrapper, adding another layer of uniqueness to the bars. 

The pre-order campaign elicited a five percent redemption rate from the people who opened the email. And the inventory sold out much faster than in previous years, even though the total number of limited-edition bars was higher. 

Marnette de Vries attributes the sellout to several factors. ‘The flavors were appealing and were inside the comfort zone of the normal Tony’s consumer. And because of the unique packaging, we had a good story to tell. It’s something that gives people a nice feeling about themselves.’

She adds: ‘When you see them stacked in a retail display, that mass presentation of bars is really appealing. We heard from many fans that they want to use the wrappers as wallpaper – actual wallpaper for their rooms. People want something that’s just for themselves, something that not everyone else has. That’s been a real success factor of this edition.’

Marnette de Vries concludes: ‘It was a really good year for us, as we sold out and we got a lot of attention. Selling out means making more impact., We have to raise the bar every year to get the same attention for our mission and “wow” factor for our limited edition. The unique wrappers really helped us to do that.’

David Pittman


David Pittman is former deputy editor of Labels & Labeling.

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