(Originally published on TheHersheyCompany.com)
There are plenty of ways to find inspiration in The Hershey Company's (a DiversityInc Noteworthy Company) DAGOBA Organic Chocolate. Every bite is made with certified organic and Non-GMO Project Verified ingredients and infused with unique flavors that combine to create a truly sensory experience. This experience begins with cacao beans sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms in Peru, Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Tanzania.
We take the little green frog that represents the Rainforest Alliance's seal of approval very seriously. Just as every varietal of cacao brings unique flavor notes to our chocolate, every Rainforest Alliance community has its own unique composition of people working diligently to create a sustainable living for their families. In these communities, the women play an integral role, yet they are also the community members most at risk of being undervalued and underrepresented in the cocoa value chain.
In 2017, we established the One for All Cacao Project, a non-profit fund that works to strengthen cacao communities by advancing the role of women in cocoa production and entrepreneurial initiatives while shining a light on the unique challenges and opportunities they face.
Achieving this objective means spending time in Rainforest Alliance communities. In 2016 and 2017, we invested in the community of San Juan de Cheni, Peru and spent time on the ground getting to know their cacao association and community better. At every turn of the journey, we encountered women who inspired us with their tenacity, strength and desire to build better lives for their families.
Success with Sincerity
In late 2017, as we recounted the many stories of these incredible women on social media, we realized there were many women in our own lives who inspired us to work harder and strive for better results – both professionally and personally. So, we turned to a different audience – DAGOBA Organic Chocolate's dedicated brand fans – and asked them to share their own stories of "Empowering Women." Our ask was simple: share a story about a time you felt empowered by another woman and post it online through November 2017. We held a modest sweepstakes, offering simple, chocolaty prizes of two Assorted Gem Packs (12 ct) to entrants picked randomly at the end of every week, and awarded a Grand Prize of two $500 Target gift cards to the entrant chosen at the end of the sweepstakes (along with a couple more chocolate rewards to 'sweeten' the pot!).
The results were inspiring in their sincerity and courage. The campaign generated engagement, and continues to generate interest in DAGOBA Organic Chocolate almost two months after its close. Together with our public relations partner agency PriceWeber, who executed this project, and in collaboration with powerful female influencers, including Rachel Mansfield, Apt. 2B Baking and What the Fork Food Blog, (just to name a few), we:
- Amplified our cause to hundreds of thousands of people in just one month;
- Saw our combined social reach increase by 140 percent; and
- Witnessed our social engagement increase by 243 percent from the previous month.
These efforts drove significant month-over-month and year-over-year sales increases, particularly at Target, where we saw a lift of 53 percent the week following the close of the campaign. More importantly, we read story after story of women empowering other women when they needed to hear stories of strength and courage the most.
Closing the Year Strong
It was a momentous way to end a pivotal year for DAGOBA Organic Chocolate. More importantly, this campaign was authentic to the brand and its mission, and as a result it engaged our fan base and their friends in a way that was sincere and deeply rooted in our core values and legacy.
These stories of "Empowering Women" and the engagement that followed continue to inspire us. We're looking forward to finding more ways to build our brand equity by empowering fans to engage and share their unique journeys, experiences and triumphs. After all, it's inspired chocolate!