Pott au Chocolat: Seeing a three-fold increase in its share of digital sales
Marie-Luise Langehenke never imagined she’d become a chocolate maker. Yet, for as long as she can remember, she had a sense that chocolate should be much higher-quality—and much more sustainably and ethically produced—than the options typically available. In 2008, she took matters into her own hands and opened Pott au Chocolat with her business partner. Thanks to enhanced digital capabilities enacted prior to the pandemic, the company was able to quickly adapt and seize the initiative as many businesses across Europe struggled to pivot.
While initially focused on in-person customers, Pott au Chocolat had a website since early on and Marie-Luise—who handled marketing for the company—increasingly recognized the promise of promoting her business online. In 2019, the co-owner of this German small business transformed her website into a more functional online shop. Marie-Luise Langehenke also leaned into digital marketing and, by using tools such as Google Analytics and Google Ads, she was able to better understand her customers and reach them more effectively. She also launched an email newsletter and began writing more on the Pott au Chocolat blog. This represented the beginning of what would become a more sustained effort to raise brand awareness and cultivate a broader online community—something that would prove valuable in the trying times to come. “It was such a relief that we made the decision to lean into digital when we did,” Marie-Luise explains. “It provided a solid base to build from in a confusing time. Honestly, I don’t know how we would have managed without it.”
While Pott au Chocolat’s stores were allowed to remain open during the pandemic, customers soon slowed to a trickle—so much so that it often did not make sense to keep the doors open. But Marie-Luise was prepared. As explained above, she turned to the tools and digital strategies her business had already implemented just prior to the pandemic—and doubled down where she could. Her online sales soon took off. That’s when other tools became increasingly important such as Google My Business, which allowed the company to keep up with customers digitally and quickly answer their questions.
Before long, she decided it was time to build upon her initial strategy of reaching more customers through storytelling. The company’s blog, its newsletter, and its social channels all became outlets for demonstrating Pott au Chocolat’s chocolate-making processes and amplifying its philosophy of ethical sustainability—sharing everything from where the beans were sourced to who provided them to how those farmers were treated.
“We explained the key elements of our mission, such as how we work in collaboration with local cocoa producers and how we ensure that they are fairly paid,” Marie-Luise explained. Customers responded almost immediately. “I was actually surprised by just how effective this was,” she recalls, “People were really interested in what we had to say. And those who liked what we said were willing to support us.”
Since the pandemic’s start, Pott au Chocolat has already seen a three-fold increase in its share of digital sales. Marie-Luise would now like to increase that figure further—by at least double, she says, and perhaps even higher. She plans to explore more digital possibilities such as Google Shopping Campaigns and remains confident in the trajectory for her company moving forward. “Pott au Chocolat has proven that chocolate can be made with higher quality and with more sustainable and ethical practices,” Marie-Luise says, “and the pandemic has proven that digital tools are critical to companies like mine being able to thrive in even the most difficult of circumstances.”