As a marketer, I consider myself to be a storyteller. At my current job at Mars Chocolate North America, I get to tell the exciting stories behind some of the world’s most iconic brands, such as M&M’S, Snickers, Twix, and Dove, usually around the launch of a new product or a new advertising or marketing campaign.
But the untold story behind these beloved brands is how these products are made—from cocoa bean to chocolate bar.
I recently had the privilege to go deep into this process, spending several days with the cocoa farmers of Indonesia, the world’s third largest cocoa producer. Having begun my career as a food scientist on our research and development team, it is absolutely imperative for me to understand not only the marketing behind our brands, but also the often unsung heroes behind the making of each product.
Indeed, it is essential for marketers in any industry to understand the product development process. The personal and professional benefits are endless. After reflecting on my own recent trip, I can share the three top reasons to immerse yourself in the process.
You Become A Champion For the Unsung Heroes Behind Your Products
When standing on the soil of one of the farms where the cocoa beans for our products are made, I was immediately reminded how important it is to be a champion for the farmers who physically bring our products to life. In fact, it is now my responsibility as a marketer to give them a voice and continue telling their stories.
Being involved in the intricacies of how cocoa pods are grown and eventually made into the treats consumers can find on store shelves has made me better equipped to tell stories behind the brands that our consumers know and love.
You Become An Unexpected Subject Matter Expert
Spending time at cocoa farms on this trip allowed me to see the level of full community involvement in the cocoa farming business and better understand key insights into the agriculture and scientific intricacies of cocoa development. For instance, I learned that the cocoa farming process is still extremely hands-on and human-centric. Farmers in Indonesia harvest beans and hand-deliver them to Mars cocoa stations on their motorbikes.
Understanding these seemingly small details of the product development process has made me well-versed in the product and even more passionate and eager to tell the stories behind our products in new and different ways.
You Ground Yourself In The Present
With many technological distractions at our fingertips in today’s world, time feels like it’s moving quicker than ever. Understanding the meticulous process behind creating our chocolate helped me appreciate the importance of patience. Understanding the rhythm and persistence of the farmers in Indonesia reminded me of the importance of being in the present moment.
As marketers, many of our ideas come from our experiences, the people we meet, and the adventures that we go on. What matters most is the people behind the product and the pride they take in the process. This passion comes through every step of the way.
My renewed appreciation for the foundation of chocolate and the people who are involved in the lifecycle of our products will prove to be beneficial in the months and years to come. I encourage all of those in the marketing trade to do what you can to become immersed in the product development process to inspire passion in your work and better inform future campaigns.