Shelf Sweep: Valentine's Chocolate Edition 2023
An exclusive look at the exquisite chocolates tempting consumers in Japan and Indonesia in 2023.
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Happy Valentine’s Day Market Shakers. Today we’re taking a break from alt-protein to talk about what this day is all about… Love chocolate!
This lighthearted (but calorie-heavy) special article explores the Valentine’s Day chocolates on offer here in Japan, where the chocolate you gift is (almost) as important as the person you’re gifting it to. In our Valentine’s Day selection box, we also have a small space dedicated to what’s on offer in Indonesia, so save room for a few more sweet insights.
The Valentine’s Season in Japan
The Japanese confectionery market is a USD 25 billion opportunity. Valentine’s Day’s role in that is significant, with the market as a whole being worth an estimated USD 800 million. In 2023, chocolate sales are expected to rise even more as Japanese consumers go on a post-pandemic splurge.
Like Christmas, Valentine’s Day is largely a commercial holiday in Japan. And chocolate is what it’s all about! Women have traditionally gifted chocolates to men, but the exchange of chocolates is becoming more common nowadays. As is buying chocolate to show some love to yourself.
Together with March 14th, “White Day” - traditionally when men gift chocolate to women - the two chocolate holidays are huge business for confectioners in Japan.
Where Do Consumers Buy Their Valentine’s Day Treats?
Valentine’s Day chocolates can be found in most major retail channels in Japan, as well as online. From early January, retailers erect dedicated shelves to promote limited edition Valentine’s Day products in addition to chocolates that they sell all year round. Large department stores and shopping centers in Japan will also hold Valentine’s fairs where consumers can pick up special selections of local and international chocolates.
The retail landscape for Valentine’s Day chocolates can be viewed along a spectrum. At one end is the convenience store. This is traditionally where consumers look for affordable chocolate, fast. Recently, even convenience stores have begun offering higher quality chocolates, such as 7-Eleven which stocks Valentine’s sweets from Godiva.
On the other end, we find department stores, boutiques, and even hotels. Here consumers can pick up premium international and local brands at a range of price points. Giving high-quality products from these channels to your loved ones shows effort.
Despite the traditional dominance of retail, consumers are increasingly buying their chocolates via e-commerce. The percentage of Valentine’s Day chocolates sold online has roughly doubled according to several companies. Takashimaya, a department store that hosts one of the biggest chocolate fairs in Japan, expects online sales in 2023 to account for 37% compared to just 15% pre-pandemic.
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Japan’s Valentine’s Day Chocolates 2023
Valentine’s Day chocolate is an exciting category in Japan. Products are sold across ambient, chilled, and frozen temperature zones at price points as low as 25 JPY up to tens of thousands of yen. Every year, seeking to stand out to consumers in this crowded market, companies launch new lineups of beautifully packaged, exquisitely crafted chocolates.
So let’s check out what companies have brought to the table in 2023.
Chronicling Convenience Stores
First up, Japan’s most prevalent purveyor of Valentine’s chocolates: convenience stores. After independent “Mom and Pop” stores, convenience stores are Japan’s biggest channel for Valentine’s chocolates.
Japan’s three main national chains, Lawson, 7-Eleven, and Family Mart offer dedicated shelf space for Valentine’s Day. These generally feature a range of limited edition products, as well as chocolates that are available all year round.
Limited edition chocolates include premium products from some of Japan’s bigger chocolatiers, including Mozoroff, the company credited with bringing Valentine’s Day to Japan. 7-Eleven and Lawson are selling Godiva’s collaboration product with the Animal Crossing video game series.
Outside of chocolate, most convenience stores also have a range of confectionary as part of special Valentine’s Day promotions or “fairs”. This includes chocolate-flavored pastries and cakes. Convenience store chain Lawson is offering consumers an assortment of chilled cakes made in collaboration with Godiva, for example.
Like what you’re reading?
GourmetPro’s Japan team of confectionary experts highlights a recent trend towards products that mash traditional sweets with western sweets. Products like mochi stuffed with chocolate ganache are being promoted this Valentine’s Day period in 7-Eleven. These kinds of products appeal to both younger consumers who have weak appetites for traditional confectionery and older consumers looking for novelty in their favorite indulgences. We should note that this isn’t specific to Valentine’s Day, but a broader trend taking place in Japan’s confectionary market.
Fujiya | Heart Chocolate
Price: 130 JPY (inc. tax)
Description: Confectionary company Fujiya launched special editions of their heart-shaped “Heart” brand chocolates in January 2023. The limited edition peanut-filled chocolate is “pocket-sized” and designed as an affordable and simple Valentine’s gift.
Godiva | Animal Crossing Chocolate Collection
Price: 778 JPY (inc. tax)
Description: One of several Godiva products available in convenience stores across Japan. This collaboration is specifically for Valentine’s Day 2023 and combines strong brand names in Godiva and the Animal Crossing video game series for an irresistible limited-edition product.Godiva also offers a wide range of premium and ultra-premium products in their physical stores and boutiques.
Department Stores, Boutiques, and Hotels
The following are examples of premium to ultra-premium chocolates on offer in Japan in 2023. We found these products on show at department store chocolate fairs. Depending on the product, they may also be available in the brand’s physical stores and/ or online.
For certain products, we try to highlight a broad trend that we’re seeing in the market for Valentine’s chocolate in Japan.
Goncharoff | Animal Chocolates
Price: 2268 - 3780 JPY (depending on no. of chocolates)
Description: Goncharoff, a Japanese chocolate maker, is one of many offering animal-themed collections for Valentine’s Day. Furansuya, Mary, and international brand Godiva are amongst the confectioners offering “cute” animal-themed chocolates in 2023.
La Maison Du Chocolat | Au Coeur de Paris Collection
Price: 2484 - 6262 JPY (inc. tax)
Description: In 2023, La Maison Du Chocolat is offering a selection of chocolates with a Paris-themed box design. The popular brand also held promotional events in department stores where customers can get their purchases signed by the Head Chef, Nicolas Cloiseau.
BVLGARI | Au Coeur de Paris Collection
Price: 5200 JPY - 14000 JPY
Description: Luxury fashion house BVLGARI is amongst many companies touting sustainable Valentine’s Day offerings in 2023. BVLGARI’s selection is themed around SDGs and includes vegan chocolates made with sustainably sourced cocoa and chocolates made with locally-sourced upcycled lemon peel. Japan’s MAAHA, which supports sustainable cocoa farming in Ghana, is another company promoting sustainable Valentine’s Day products.
USHIO CHOCOLATL | VEGAN MILK
Price: 1296 JPY (inc. tax)
Description: Trends spotted at this year’s chocolate fairs include a growing number of vegan products. USHIO CHOCOLATL is a Hiroshima-based chocolate maker that produces hexagonal chocolate slabs made with sustainably sourced cocoa beans. Amongst the company's offerings, they showcased two vegan chocolate bars made with cashew milk at the Isetan department store’s chocolate fair. Several other vegan products were given a platform at this year’s department store events, including Japanese raw-vegan brand imalive chocolate’s, Fabian Deal’s, a Lyon-based vegan chocolatier, and La Maison Du Chocolat’s vegan lineup.
Mary’s | Neko Can Chocolate
Price: 810 JPY (inc. tax)
Description: Confectionary companies in Japan don’t just compete on the flavor and design of chocolate, but also the packaging. Japanese confectionery company Mary’s stands out in 2023 with a cat food can package and fish-shaped chocolates designed to appeal to Japan’s many cat lovers.
AMAN TOKYO | Fruit x Tea Chocolates
Price: 3780 JPY ~ 15120 JPY
Description: The Aman Tokyo hotel’s 2023 Valentine’s Day chocolate collection marries fruit and tea flavors with sleek Japanese design. These ultra-premium chocolates follow a trend we observed in 2023 of fruit-flavored chocolates, especially strawberry, citrus, and tropical fruits.
A Peek At The Rest
International supermarkets such as Seijo Ishi and Kaldi, as well as discount stores like Don Quijote offer a wide selection of Valentine’s Day chocolates too. These stores especially feature unique offerings from international brands such as Ritter Sports, KitKat, and many more.
Nestle | KitKat - Heartful Bear
Price: 358 JPY (excl. tax)
Description: We found multipacks of Heartful Bear KitKat chocolates in Don Quijote. The convenient multipack bears are likely to appeal to Japanese consumers who want to give Valentine’s Day chocolates to their friends and colleagues.
A rapidly growing economy, a burgeoning middle class, and some of the world’s best cocoa are all the ingredients capitalist cupid should need to make Indonesia a promising market for Valentine’s Day chocolate. But what’s on offer in the archipelago?
We asked local expert and GourmetPro consultant Tassa Agustriana, who broke down some of the main brands offering Valentine’s products across a range of price points.
The first brand to know is Silver Queen. This widely available chocolate brand is Indonesia’s version of Cadbury’s. The entire range of their 2023 Valentine’s Day lineup can be seen in this Instagram post.
For consumers seeking a more premium bean-to-bar experience, Krakakoa is the answer. The brand is one of Indonesia’s first local brands to do bean-to-bar. They offer a wide range of high-quality, high-cocoa, chocolates. That includes special gift boxes for Valentine’s Day 2023, which the brand promotes as gifts for the one you love, including yourself!
In terms of giving a gift that really shows effort, Indonesian consumers will often turn to patisseries. Two noteworthy stores are Crio in Jakarta and Vincent Nigita in Bali, both of which offer hand-crafted Valentine’s Day chocolate collections. According to Tassa, they are niche, known mainly to foodies in Jakarta and Bali.
The Harvest is a European-style patisseries chain in Indonesia with outposts in most major cities. This chain strikes the sweet spot of being premium while accessible enough to more of the Indonesian mass market, making its Valentine’s chocolate a sought-after gift.
Unlock growth in APAC for your confectionary products in 2023:
Confectionery in APAC is competitive, crowded, and deeply cultural. Even local players can face an uphill struggle when trying to capture the attention of distributors and customers.
But APAC is hungry for sweets. The region is expected to account for 31% of the entire confectionary market’s growth over the next 5 years. The good news is: unlocking this opportunity and getting your products to stand out is a lot easier than you think.
GourmetPro’s confectionary industry team has decades of experience supporting companies, from strategy through to execution, to successfully expand in APAC. Contact us to discuss your next best move.
That’s all folks
We hope we’ve sparked your appetite with our exploration of Valentine’s Day chocolate trends in 2023. Let us know in the comments some of the interesting products you’ve seen this year.
Happy V-Day, and see you next Tuesday.
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