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How to Start a Chocolate Business + Pro Tips & Examples [2024]

GemPages Team
Updated:
11 minutes read
How to Start a Chocolate Business + Pro Tips & Examples [2024]

Chocolate is one of the most popular food items in the world!

People buy chocolates not just for their own consumption but also offer it as a gift item to show love and appreciation.

This makes chocolate a product worth selling all through the year. You can start an online chocolate business from home or with a small manufacturing facility.

In this blog post, we’ll cover a comprehensive and step-by-step guide on how to start a chocolate business along with pro tips and examples.

Is it Worth Starting a Chocolate Business?

Even before planning to start a chocolate business, you may have this question — Is a chocolate business profitable?

Yes, a chocolate business could be profitable if done with the right plan and strategy. Let’s look at some of the key statistics that indicate how huge the market is for chocolate makers:

According to Statista, US consumers buy about three billion kilograms of chocolate confectionery items annually.

The worldwide revenue of the "Chocolate Confectionery" market is considered to be worth US$133.60 billion in 2024. The US is the biggest market for Chocolate Confectionery with a market share of US$23,210 million in 2024.

That said, a business that has a high demand for the product is also supposed to have high competition — and that too with some big and established players.

You really need to be on top of your game with product quality, branding, and marketing to succeed in this business.

How to Start a Chocolate Business— Online with Shopify

Step #1: Perform Research on Your Target Market

Market research is a crucial step for starting a chocolate business.

You need to understand how much market demand is there in the specific target market you’re aiming to sell into.

For example, you may decide to sell your product in a specific country such as the US, UK, India, or Australia — whichever country or region you choose may have a different market behavior.

What competitors are in the market? If we look at the major players in the market, the Mordor Intelligence report shows the below top five companies that have taken over 59.47% of the total market.

  1. Ferrero International SA
  2. Mars Incorporated
  3. Mondelēz International Inc.
  4. Nestlé SA
  5. The Hershey Company

But these are giant players. If you want to start a business at a small level or locally, you should focus on your competitors accordingly. 

Research and study their product, branding, positioning, customers, etc. And figure out what you can do differently and stand apart from those competitors.

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Step #2: Work on Your Business Fundamentals

2.1 Decide on Your Strategy

Brainstorm and finalize key aspects of your business and how you’re doing to operate your business. You may consider the following questions:

  • How do you want to manage the manufacturing process?
  • Where are you going to get the supply of raw materials from?
  • What business model do you want to implement?
  • What will be your distribution strategy?

2.2 Create a Business Plan

A business plan is a document presenting details of the company's business overview, goals, and plan of action to achieve its goals.

Creating a business plan is important for multiple reasons. It will help you set a clear direction, make rational business decisions, and run your business with specific goals and milestones in mind.

Also, if you need to raise funding to grow your business, you can present the business plan to investors and show why they should invest in your business.

U.S. Small Business Administration can help you with examples of two different business plan formats: 1. Traditional format and 2. Lean startup format. Here’s the list of items for each of these formats: 

Key points listed for two different business plan formats

Step #3: Initiate Chocolate-Making and Testing

Your product and its quality are going to be your most important selling points. So, you need to nail the product before you nail anything else.

3.1 Decide on the Types of Chocolates to Make

Decide what kinds of products you want to manufacture. There are many different types of chocolates:

  • Dark chocolates
  • Milk chocolates
  • White chocolates
  • Bittersweet chocolates

3.2 Get the Necessary Equipment & Ingredients

To begin with the chocolate-making process at a small level, you need to get the necessary equipment such as a thermometer, chocolate tempering machine, molds, bowls, baking trays, etc.

However, if you’re planning to start a chocolate-making factory on a bigger scale, you’ll need big machinery such as a sugar grinding appliance, chocolate melting machine, tempering machine, refining machine, molding equipment, storage tank, cutting and packaging machine, etc.

If you don’t have a huge budget to buy such equipment with a total upfront payment, you can check out the option to buy these equipment with EMI options.

Next, depending on the types of chocolates you want to make, find a good supplier to buy the quality ingredients at wholesale pricing.

3.3 Begin the Initial Production

Start making chocolates and evaluate the entire making process — getting raw materials/ingredients, the making process, the cost of making certain units, product quality, etc.

3.4 Get the Initial Feedback

When you’re starting a new business, it’s good to collect some feedback on your product even before you start selling it.

You can also get initial feedback from your family and friends on the quality of your product. Make sure they have genuine feedback even if it means negative feedback.

Experiment and test as many times as needed to come up with your own unique recipe for the best finished product.

Step #4: Get the Necessary Registrations & Licenses

4.1 Business Registration

The legal processes of registering your business and getting the necessary licenses may seem daunting but those are critical steps.

Business registration can help you with different aspects such as setting up payment providers on your eCommerce store, getting a business bank account, taxation, and so on.

As you might already know, the business registration process may vary slightly or significantly depending on your country/region.

If you’re not completely sure of the process, you may seek legal consultation for business registration or company formation in your country.

4.2 Obtain Necessary License(s) to Sell Chocolate Products

Chocolate is a food item, so you definitely need to get the necessary licenses to sell your product in the market. Again, this step may also vary from country to country.

If you’re planning to start your chocolate business in the US, you may check out these resources:

If you’re planning to sell globally, you must consider the requirements of the international regulatory bodies.

Step #5: Prepare Your Branding & Marketing Strategy

5.1 Branding Strategy

When we say chocolate, some of the first names that may come to your mind could be Cadbury, Ferrero, Snickers, and KitKat. Right?

That’s not just because of their products — it’s also thanks to their great branding. Branding has played a crucial role in marking these names so big in the market.

Branding consists of many aspects. For a chocolate brand, here are some of the most crucial factors:

  • Create a catchy, yummy, and memorable brand name
  • Use a visually appealing color scheme
    • For chocolate packaging design, website design, and all marketing material.
    • Choose attractive typography

    Cadbury (owned by Mondelēz International) is a great example of classic branding. When you imagine Cadbury, you may instantly start thinking of its signature color scheme of blue and gold colors and beautiful script-stye typography.

    When you go to its website, you’ll see the same color scheme with white background which makes the vibrant colors pop nicely.

    Cadbury’s homepage design

    5.2 Marketing Strategy

    When creating a marketing strategy, the very first thing you must do is to perform research on your target customers.

    Broadly speaking, millennials and Gen Z are the biggest chocolate consumers, and thus, they’re the most likely to be your target customers. 

    So, when creating your marketing strategy, you need to create content that speaks to these audiences.

    Also, social media marketing can play a major role in raising your brand awareness and promotions because millennials and Gen Z spend a lot of time on social media.

    Step #6: Build Your Online Store

    6.1 Choose Your eCommerce Platform

    Shopify has everything you need in an eCommerce platform.

    Whether you want to start with a small budget or you want to scale a multi-million dollar business, it has the capabilities to manage it all.

    You can start with a 3-day free trial, and then the first month with just $1. Post that, you just need to pay $39/month (or $29/month when billed annually).

    Learn more: Shopify Features and Benefits with Simple Explanation

    We have created a detailed Shopify tutorial covering the step-by-step process of building a Shopify store. However, we’ll just briefly cover the most important ones here.

    6.2 Design Your eCommerce Store

    Design your website with your unique branding and aesthetics.

    Use GemPages to design your entire Shopify store using professionally designed templates, advanced features, and design elements.

    GemPages template for a chocolate business

    You can go with a chocolate-theme color scheme but make sure to create a cohesive design with the use of colors and visual elements.

    Learn more: How to Create a Shopify Homepage Design That Captivates and Converts

    6.3 Configure Your Store Settings

    An eCommerce store requires certain settings configured for the backend as well as front-end functions.

    The important settings cover:

    • Payment settings
    • Shipping and delivery
    • Taxes and duties
    • Email notifications

    Learn more: Shopify Tutorial: Everything You Need To Know For Success

    Step #7: Launch Your Store and Start Marketing

    Once you’ve built and tested your store, it’s time to launch.

    You can run launch-special ads and marketing campaigns to drive the attention of your target audience. You can also go for a strategic approach such as a sales funnel to attract new customers.

    Pro tip: When your business is new and if you don’t have enough social media following, you can collaborate with influencers. It will help you quickly spread the word about your brand.

    Not ready to commit but still want to kick the tires?
    No problem! Get started with GemPages' free plan. Explore wonderful features that can do wonders for your store.

    Alternative — Find Chocolate Business for Sale

    This is not an often discussed topic — but you don’t necessarily need to start a new chocolate business from scratch.

    You can find a chocolate business that is on sale and buy an established business. Of course, it will require a much higher investment than starting a brand-new chocolate business.

    However, if you research and analyze an ongoing business properly, you can scale an existing chocolate business.

    There are several platforms where entrepreneurs may want to sell their business to move forward with new endeavors. For example, BizQuest is one such platform where you can find chocolate shops for sale.

    Chocolate shops for sale

    Examples of Chocolate Businesses [SMB]

    We’ve already seen some big names of the industry in this article. Now, let's explore some amazing SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses) in the chocolate industry.

    • The Good Chocolate

    The Good Chocolate was founded by two friends — Ben and Miki — who have also been partners in a branding and design agency. So, it's no wonder where their impressive branding elements come from.

    The Good Chocolate’s website homepage

    Pro tip: If you’re just starting your chocolate business and building your eCommerce store with Shopify — without prior experience of designing a website — GemPages can help you with professionally designed templates. Even if you want to create a new store page from scratch, you can do so easily with a visual drag-and-drop editor.

    The Good Chocolate makes great use of social media through its Instagram page which has more than 17,000 followers.

    The Good Chocolate’s Instagram page

    Here’s one of the recent giveaway campaigns by The Good Chocolate where the brand collaborated with two other brands — Cosmic Crisp and Valley Fig. The campaign seems to have generated positive results as more than 7,000 people engaged with the post.

    The Good Chocolate’s giveaway post on Instagram

    • Seattle Chocolate

    Seattle Chocolate — a woman-owned-and-run chocolate company — is an excellent example of artistic branding.

    Homepage of Seattle Chocolate’s website

    One of the best things we loved about Seattle Chocolate was its package design and the story behind it.

    Seattle Chocolate’s About page displaying product packaging

    Seattle Chocolate works with independent artists to create beautiful and one-of-a-kind packaging that immediately draws your attention.

    Seattle Chocolate’s artist collaborations

    • The Chocolate Season

    The Chocolate Seasons is a brand that's been offering handcrafted artisan chocolates since 2007. The brand’s homepage itself looks so delicious that it will make you crave its chocolate.

    Homepage of The Chocolate Season

    What's interesting is that the brand also has a coffee and treats truck called BonBon — which can be used for company events or parties.

    Homepage of The Chocolate Season

    The brand is also selling through its physical store — Chocolaterie & Espresso Bar — located in Lincoln, Nebraska.

    Homepage of The Chocolate Season

    • B's Chocolates

    B's Chocolates is another great example of a chocolate business that offers “Handcrafted Gourmet Chocolates”. 

    Homepage of B's Chocolates

    The brand offers custom packages where customers can pick the chocolate items to build their own product package.

    Product page for custom chocolate package

    • Malley’s Chocolates

    Malley’s Chocolates is a chocolate company that has an online storefront and it’s operating from 18 physical locations across Northeast Ohio.

    Homepage of Malley’s Chocolates

    Get Ready to Start Your Chocolate Business!

    We hope this article has given you a starting point to begin your journey of building your chocolate business.

    You can invest some time into research and brainstorming to come up with a solid business plan. And whenever you’re ready, please remember that GemPages has plenty of resources to start, grow, and scale your business.

    Join the GemPages Facebook community to learn from fellow entrepreneurs and discuss all things eCommerce design with over 6,800 GemPages community members.

    Your store could look like this!
    Take your storefront to the next level with GemPages page builder. Free plan available. Upgrade as you scale.

    FAQs about the Chocolate Business

    Is a chocolate business profitable?
    Yes, a chocolate business could be profitable because of the high demand for chocolate products in several countries. However, you also need to be prepared with solid branding and marketing strategies to build a sustainable business in a highly competitive market.
    How do I start a chocolate business from home?
    You can start a small chocolate manufacturing setup for making handcrafted chocolates — and then, build an online store with Shopify to start selling your chocolate items from home.
    How much does it cost to start a chocolate business?
    The investment required to start a chocolate business may vary depending on your specific business scenario and goals. Generally speaking, if you want to start a small chocolate business, you may need an initial budget of anywhere around $5,000 to $10,000.
    What equipment do you need to start a chocolate business?
    If you’re starting a chocolate business on a small scale, you can start with the following equipment: a thermometer, chocolate tempering machine, molds, bowls, baking trays, etc. However, if you’re planning to start a factory, you may consider the following equipment: sugar grinding appliance, chocolate melting machine, tempering machine, refining machine, molding equipment, storage tank, cutting and packaging machine, etc.
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