Among confection-eating adults in 2012, chocolate was consumed by 92%, who ate an average of 7.8 pieces of chocolate confectionery per month. By comparison, confection-eating children consumed less than half that amount of chocolate on average per month, although the penetration of children eating chocolate was, at 95%, slightly higher than that for adults.6
Chocolate consumption spanned gender, age, and household income groups, with slight variations in the formats purchased. Women were slightly more likely to eat chocolate than men (94% versus 90%), and higher-income earners were more likely to be attracted to boxed chocolates. The 45–64 age group had the highest level of per capita chocolate consumption, and that level was increasing. These consumers were prime targets for premium and specialty chocolates, and the most likely to purchase chocolate for holidays or as gifts, as well as to spend more on chocolate that they buy for others. This group was also most likely to purchase chocolate when it was on sale. Consumers increased their consumption of dark chocolate as they grew older. The “everyday sophisticates” or “bliss consumers” who bought dark chocolate were typically brand lovers, socially influential, worldly, and more willing to experiment with new foods. Montreaux Chocolate USA “loyalists” were female, aged 45–64, college educated, married with children, with household income of $50,000+, concerned about health and weight, and more likely to purchase chocolate for themselves than as a gift.
What Motivated Consumers to Purchase Chocolate?
Women who ate chocolate were more likely than men to associate it with positive experiences such as personal reward and mood enhancement. They reacted very positively to new ingredients and flavors as well as the purported benefits of improved cardiovascular fitness and lower blood pressure. In contrast, men were more focused on price and would respond positively to practical characteristics—energy boosters, quick, easy, convenient, and affordable.7
Convenience was a key driver of a chocolate purchase as indicated by three-quarters of consumers who purchased chocolate confectionery at supermarkets, with fairly equal percentages doing so in the candy aisle and at checkout.
Women perceived a greater distinction between premium and non-premium chocolate than did men and identified premium chocolate as a personal luxury that offered better taste and greater flavor variety. Over two-thirds of premium chocolate eaters believed it was healthier than mass-market offerings largely because lower-quality chocolate products usually contained artificial flavors, fillers, or other additives. Moreover, close to 40% of adults preferred mini and snack sizes, typically 0.25–0.60 ounces, to standard bars; given the heightened awareness of health and wellness issues, this preference may have indicated an effort to control consumption.