INTERNATIONAL. While the global travel retail confectionery market posted declines in 2015 and 2016 and delivered a modest 4.2% growth for 2017 – the Harison premium chocolate brand has bucked the trend since its launch in January 2015, writes Peter Marshall, founder of www.airportdynamics.tv and www.trunblocked.com.
Harison has scored a remarkable 40% increase in turnover for each of its three trading years. In that time it has secured distribution at major travel retailers including Dufry, Lagardère Travel Retail, DFS, Dubai Duty Free, Aer Rianta International, Flemingo and King Power (Thailand).
In this interview, Harison CEO and Chief Brand Architect Shibu Thomas details some of the key moments in the brand’s story and discusses future strategy.
What is the strategy behind the Harison business?
“It’s quite simple really,” says Thomas. “There are three main pillars: To offer premium quality chocolates; for these to be sold at affordable prices, and to be available exclusively within the global duty free and travel retail sector.
“Before we launched, we researched the market very carefully, conducting hundreds of blind taste tests. We determined that we needed to create brand lines with recipes manufactured from the very best sources globally. All our products originate from Belgium, Switzerland and Italy and we are extremely proud of what we have brought into the travel retail market.
“Whether for gifting, sharing or for self-reward, our products seem to have resonated with both consumers and retailers. Right now we are the fastest growing confectionery brand in global travel retail.”
How has Harison achieved 40% year-on-year growth in each of its three years of trading?
“For the consumer, Harison delivers a European premium chocolate experience, providing genuine exclusivity, quality and affordability. For the retailer it provides incremental category growth. This combination has been key to our success. We have found a niche in the marketplace and have marketed our products in and around that niche.”
How has the marketplace changed in that time?
“I believe it is largely driven by a diminishing shopper appetite for the standard chocolate ‘me too’ proposition, both in product offer and value. Combined with an innovation gap, this has resulted in a dilution of differentiation and, in turn, the travel value proposition.
“By contrast, we believe we have focused on breakthrough products with strong differentiation. Our quality is a match to the best in the market, but the value and price points we offer make the premium chocolate market that much more accessible to all.
“This provides a winning formula and has stimulated not just customer experience, where we are fulfilling a need, but has also generated incremental growth to the confectionery category.”
And what of the future?
“Right now we are focused on nurturing and developing our existing contracts as well as expanding our points of distribution.
“Our eye-catching product is supported by in-store visibility and sampling as well as by continuous research. So you can expect increased investment from us in the future as well as new product launches in the later half of 2019 – all underpinned by our three main brand pillars. Our commercial target remains robust and we are looking to continue our double-digit growth against a challenging retail environment.
“We are punching above our weight. We are the fastest-growing confectionery brand in the global travel retail confectionery category and we strongly believe that, based on our share today, we can be a top ten brand in retail sales within the category in the next five years. It’s a developing story and one we are all really excited about.”