The new coconut variety – a milk-chocolate-covered date coated with desiccated coconut – will be available in 100 g packs from the second quarter of the year in the UAE, and by the end of the year in the GCC and other international markets, according to Notions Group marketing manager Ala’a Al Khateeb. She said the marketing campaign will start with sampling when the product is on the shelves.
“We have to make awareness, to get people to try it – that’s why the biggest challenge for us is to do the sampling. Anyone who tries the product, falls in love with it,” said Al Khateeb.
Notions will also be making the coconut flavour available to its European distributors, and will refresh its assorted Chocodate packs to include the new variety. Along with this, the firm will update some of its other products, said Al Khateeb.
“For our Arabian Delights Chocodate packages, it used to be in a silver package, and only milk chocolate. Now we’ve changed the packaging into gold, and it’s an assorted range – and we increased the souvenir boxes. We are targeting tourists – people visiting Dubai are taking our products back for their family and friends. We’re also thinking of introducing new flavours, but this will be the next step,” she said.
According to Al Khateeb, while European tourists are keen on the Chocodate products, other groups, including local populations across the Middle East, are a harder sell: “We definitely have a challenge for the local market. There’s a difference between Arabs from the Levant, and the GCC – for GCC it’s very difficult for us. Arabs in general know their date types – they ask what it is, where did you get it.
“For us, we have to explain it’s not about the date – it’s about the uniqueness of the product, it’s about the indulgence. It’s the mix between the three layers: the date, the chocolate and the almond – it’s an experience. You can’t split the ingredients into three, and start asking what is the chocolate, what is the almond, what is the date – no. It’s one full piece. This is a challenge,” said Al Khateeb.
“It’s also a challenge in other countries, like China and Japan – they don’t know what a date is. They don’t know that this is a fruit. Our products are available in the US, and this is another challenge, because American people also don’t know dates – not like Europe, where people know it,” she added.
Online direct sales
Along with searching for new distributors and liaising with existing partners at Gulfood as the company aims to expand its reach to new markets, Notions Group will also be turning to direct sales. Al Khateeb said this year would see relaunched websites for both Chocodate and Arabian Delights, with both offering online sales anywhere in the world.
She said the company is very happy to work with distributors and key accounts to create custom products to suit the market: “For example, some markets are asking for a big pack, filled with a small quantity – for example, 100g, but it looks like 200g. These are their consumers, so they know how they want to buy it, and the price point they are looking for. So we are trying to help them to reach this price point, and the packaging, the colours – how they want to do the communication, in Arabic, in English, more than one language.”