GO
Loading...

Godiva: Less snobbery with soft serve

Godiva soft serve ice cream cone.
Source: Godiva.
Godiva soft serve ice cream cone.

Godiva—yes, that Godiva—is consciously getting a tad less snooty.

The designer chocolate chain, known for its pricey products and highbrow attitude, this summer has opted to appeal to something a bit closer to the average consumer with a product that some might call the great equalizer: soft serve.

Ok. OK. It's Godiva, so it costs $6, about twice the cost you'd pay for soft serve ice cream at DQ. But for the first time, the Belgian chocolate specialist this week began to sell cones and cups with soft serve made from its dark chocolate, white chocolate or, if you prefer, a twist.

More from USA Today:
Book Buzz: J.K. Rowling donates big to keep Scotland in U.K.
United: Fliers earn miles based on fare, not distance
P.F. Chang's investigates data breach report

For Godiva, it's about evolving from a place where rich folks go for fancy gifts at Christmas, to a place where regular folks might want to go now and then to get an indulgent snack for themselves. The company, with 225 boutiques in the U.S. and another 275 outside the U.S., is eager to broaden both its product mix and its customer base.

"Godiva wants to show a better sense of approachability than we have in the past," says Michelle Chin, vice president of North American marketing at Godiva. Among other things, that means reaching out not just to well-to-do women in the 35-and-up target group, but more broadly to Millennial women and also to men. So, several weeks ago, it also rolled out a frozen, blended beverage, Trufflelata, made with Truffles. That one, which comes in six chocolate flavors, also costs $6.

Read More Ice cream sandwiches, pooled tipping: The new dining out?

The moves come at a time consumers increasingly crave affordable luxuries, particularly for snacks. It's a concept that Starbucks crystallized decades ago that others are still trying to mimic. Never mind that one cone comes packed with 380 calories.

One brand guru worries about Godiva going even slightly downscale. "It's very risky to try to move your brand downstream this way," says Tracey Riese, president of TG Riese & Associates. "When Tiffany's added lower-priced silver jewelry to its line, it became the status brand for teenagers, but lost higher-end customers."

But Chin says Godiva is doing exactly what it must do. "It's a chance for consumers to think about Godiva from an everyday standpoint," she says. "Not just during the holiday season."

Read MoreFast food CEO: Why I'm against federal minimum wage

More than a decade ago, Godiva sold a licensed ice cream brand in grocery stores only. That ended, however, when that licensing partner was swallowed up in a merger. "This time, we decided to innovate it ourselves so we have control."

Most notable, she says, is the effect that the ice cream — available since Monday — already is having on the Godiva shop by New York's Grand Central Terminal. Some consumers rushing to the train are now taking a moment to stop and chill with a soft serve, she says. "It's got to make the train ride more enjoyable."

Perhaps that's an understatement.

In early May, when Godiva first posted pictures of its new frozen chocolate beverages on its Facebook page, this was the immediate response from one of its Facebook fans, Nicky Clark Svien: "OMG, where do you get these drinks?!"

Read MoreAs some menus simplify, fast food remains full of additives

— Bruce Horovitz, USA Today

Featured

Contact Food and Beverage

  • CNBC NEWSLETTERS

    Get the best of CNBC in your inbox

    › Learn More