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Published:  23 July, 2008

Not enough cues, almost too much choice and a complete risk in trying to make an appropriate choice. These are the impressions of the wine fixture of Mark Palmer, marketing director of Green & Black's, the leading premium organic chocolate brand.

Palmer was the guest speaker at Wine Intelligence's latest Leading Thinkers Group' dinner, held at the Great Eastern Hotel in London on 4 April.

He said: I find the wine fixture massively confusing, I don't understand the cues. The whole element of choice, it is a complete risk. There is almost too much choice.' He added that wine is interesting, but he didn't have the time to understand it. Asked how he would institute risk reduction, he replied: By allowing people to taste it first? Wine columns are quite intimidating as they assume a base level of knowledge but endorsement is massively powerful.'

Speaking on the theme of How do you create high value brands in a commodity category?', the ex-United Biscuits and Burger King marketing man said that Green & Black's had started as a high-quality, organic chocolate with limited distribution in delicatessens and health food shops. Calling it the Body Shop of chocolate', he said Green & Black's had 97% of the organic chocolate market, but only 0.3% of the total chocolate sector. The company decided to repackage the bars to give them a slicker look' with less emphasis on the term organic', and emphasising the taste. There followed a sampling campaign, with cover mounts and insertions in magazines, and product giveaways at events such as a Jools Holland concert. Along with getting the product tasted, Palmer said it was vital to make it interesting and accessible by providing nuggets of information'. .

Green & Black's is now widely available, and Palmer paid tribute to Waitrose as one of the brands' top three stockists.

By Christian Davis