Chocolate is a multi-billion dollar industry – a fact that comes as no surprise. Everyone loves chocolate; but does everyone like the same kind of chocolate? With hundreds of chocolate brands competing for market share in the world, Kadence conducted some research to understand how our taste for chocolate changes around the region.

Kadence asked consumers in Singapore, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, China and Australia what do they look for when purchasing chocolate. It might come as a no brainer that taste came out top. But there were some interesting country differences. In Thailand, taste represented a whopping 78% of what Thais look for in chocolate. To them really nothing else matters. But on average taste represented about half of what people look for (46%) – so there’s something else they want from chocolate than just taste.

Yet even taste is a broad idea, and also found in the study is that consumers across different countries have different interpretations of what makes chocolate ‘tasty’. Singaporeans and Indonesians like their chocolates sweet, much higher than the Taiwanese. Whereas Thais look for a chocolate aroma.

Moving beyond taste, this is when consumer preferences start to really differ between countries. Chocolate texture clinches the second place in several markets – Singapore (27%), Australia (24%), India (26%), and Malaysia (25%). But here again, there are contrasting views towards what constitutes good texture. For Australians, they value a silkiness; a smooth and creamy chocolate defining good texture. The same cannot be said for Malaysians or Singaporeans, who like their chocolates to have a bit of crunch in them. Chocolates with nuts or cookie fillings are well received in our island nation.

Whilst chocolate is universally loved, every country has their own unique reasons for loving it.

For the other countries, the second most important attribute has little to do with texture, or indeed the properties of chocolate at all. It was about the benefit it gave them. In China, consumers care more about meeting their rational needs – having the energy boost from chocolates came in second (16% versus the average of 5%). Interestingly, this rational need is not seen in neighbouring Taiwan, where the focus is much more emotional; they are after the feel-good factor they get from a chocolate bar.

Just a stone’s throw away, we then have the Japanese consumers who enjoy chocolates while paying close attention to their diet – calorie content comes in second for the Japanese after taste. The only nation in the study to be deeply concerned with health when it comes to chocolate. Perhaps, even the cultural element could be brought into the equation here. Ask anyone who has been to Japan and they would know that the Japanese are diligent, almost ritualistic, in keeping up their appearance.

Price consideration came in as third across several countries as well. Of these price-conscious consumers, the Japanese (75%), Taiwanese (68%), and Indonesians (62%) want their chocolates to be wallet-friendly while those in China and India are more concerned about the quality they get from their chocolate.

As might be expected taste is the hygiene factor of chocolate, it is the main reason you buy it. But what is fascinating from this research is how different the demands for chocolate are across the region, from the specific texture consumers are looking for to the way it makes them feel about themselves. So whilst chocolate is universally loved, every country has their own unique reasons for loving it.

With this in mind, chocolate and confectionary companies venturing into the Asian markets should keep a close watch on how they brand themselves and how their product value proposition gets through to their consumers. Whether they want to be known for an energy boost that parallels Red Bull, or as the brand that offers a silky smooth finish or a crunchy texture, or perhaps just dials up its health credentials, it is imperative to tailor communications to meet the desires of each country. In other words, not treating the APAC region as a single idea; a universal market to target, is a good starting point.