Marketing 50

Moonstruck Chocolate

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In Ron Giusti's office there is a picture of two giraffes, one with the typical brown and tan dappled markings and the other an albino. The caption reads: "Packaging is everything."

For Moonstruck Chocolate Co., design has helped the confectioner overtake Godiva as the Red Carpet indulgence for the Oscars. The intricate designs of each truffle-some shaped like ice cream cones and others exotically flavored with spices-are tiny monuments to self-indulgence. Their artful boxes present the treats like Tiffany diamonds, landing the 12-year-old Portland, Ore.-based brand on Oprah Winfrey's O List and the Emmy Awards.

The closely held company doesn't release sales figures, but Confectioner says Moonstruck grew more than 40% each year in 2002 and 2003. The company's chain of six cafes that also serve rich hot cocoas and ice creams has sparked a spate of rivals, including Mars-owned Ethel's Chocolate.

"For me it's about fashion," says Mr. Giusti, Moonstruck's creative director, who just turned 40. "I just happened to find this black paper that reminded me of a Chanel quilted bag to use for our Halloween packaging. It's high fashion meets decadent chocolate."

He now is the de facto leader of a team of four who essentially compose a marketing department

"It's chocolate plus art," says Erin Fowler, editor of Mintel reports.

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