Recently, Maneck Malhotra, the director of Choco Swiss, a designer chocolate giant in India, sat with NewsX for an exclusive interview. He shares with us his mantra of “Don’t compete but change the rules” as he talks about how he beats the competition in the Chocolate sector in India.
Maneck spoke with us about the journey he’s been on to get to this point, and the role his father, who founded the company had played. “I think my father was very ahead of his time. He was a Chartered Accountant in the UK, but then we came back to India so that the kids could have an Indian upbringing. We were the first ones to import equipment to design soft-centred chocolate. In India, most people just relate chocolate to bars, but we went beyond that.”
He also feels like the market has grown and matured a lot since his father founded the company, and that those changes will aid Choco Swiss’ success. “You know, in my father’s day, you didn’t have all these different airlines to transport chocolate in, there was just one, you didn’t have refrigerated truck either. There have been a lot of changes since my father’s day, and you know I think we’ve waited 30 years to be in a place where the market is well-placed for us, and I think we’re there now.”
We asked Maneck about the challenges he faced upon taking over the company from his father, and what competition is like, in India’s chocolate market. “Look I think, for the longest time, India was completely dominated by Cadbury, Nestle, Amul, etc. People just associated chocolate with those brands, and with those types of chocolates, so one of the major challenged for us was to get people to accept that chocolate with a gifting sentiment, could also be chocolate with a daily consumption use. For the longest time, my father based his sales strategy on gift packs, which created a mindset that we tried to change in our customers.”
Talking about the pandemic, and the challenges it created for Choco Swiss and the industry, Maneck was brutally honest. “I’ll be honest, it was quite difficult for us. We’re a good that is not a daily consumable good we’re based on lifestyle aspects, which the pandemic shut down. We’ve been increasing our digital presence because obviously customers can’t go to physical stores to buy our products anymore. We really had to take a step back, introspect and think about our digital strategy, and I think now that we’ve done that, we’ve come out stronger on the other end of it.”
He spoke about some of the new initiatives that Choco Swiss has been taking, with regards to their product line, but simultaneously, emphasized that value that they place on sticking to their roots. “Over 70% of our sales come from our basic classics, those have not changed in 30 years. We believe in sticking to our roots, but obviously, we do understand, that we need to keep innovating and keep offering the customer something new. With that in mind, we’re trying to enter into energy bars, we’re also going to be releasing some very quirky and unique and progressive blends soon in the future.”