I recently paid a visit to Nestle’s KitKat Chocolatory in London’s Westfield.
A pop-up store allowing visitors to ‘create their own break’, it is open for five weeks up until November 8th.
Yet another example of a brand entering the world of physical retail, the pop-up is also part of Nestle’s attempts to offer greater personalisation to consumers.
Here’s what I thought of the experience…
First impressions and interior
I went to the Chocolatory on a Sunday at around midday – bang on the store’s opening time.
It was fairly quiet to begin with, but I was suprised to see how quickly it filled up, with a line soon snaking outside.
Without much prior knowledge beforehand, I was pretty excited about the prospect of designing my own chocolate bar.
(I obviously had visions of a Willy Wonka-style chocolate factory).
Entering the store, it was immediately obvious what the whole process would entail, but sadly, it was less magical than I’d hoped.
With an area sectioned off for the ‘expert chocolatiers’, visitors can choose their personalised KitKat designs using a touchscreen device.
Alternatively, there is also the option to buy ready-made special edition bars created by Michelin-star chef, Michael O’Hara.
Of course, I wanted to design my own, so began by perusing the ‘menu’ as I waited in the queue.
When I arrived at my touchscreen, I was taken through three stages to create my own bar.
First I chose the base flavour of milk chocolate, before selecting three out of the possible 16 ‘signature flavours’.
I went for pistachio, chocolate brownie bits and honeycomb.
Finally, I was able to design my own gift box, which included my name as well as a humorous or personalised slogan.
I chose ‘sorry, not sorry’. Make of that what you will.
Before I knew it, I’d paid my £7 and was told that I’d have to wait up to 90 minutes for my KitKat to be created.
I did stick around for a while to watch the chocolatiers in action, but with my part of the process done and dusted, I soon left, and I was a bit disappointed with how quickly it was all over.
Granted, there were some nice touches of personalisation.
I was asked for my mobile number so that the Chocolatory could text me when my KitKat was ready, and being able to choose my own flavours was definitely quite cool.
However, the fact that it added up to a few moments using a touchscreen didn’t exactly feel that creative or exciting.
The final product
With time to kill, I went off on my merry way (and spent far too much money elsewhere in Westfield).
Annoyingly, I did have to wait over 90 minutes until I received the text telling me my KitKat was ready, which makes me wonder how long it would be on a Saturday or even later in the day.
So, was my personalised chocolate worth the wait?
Sure enough, the final product was quite impressive, and it was definitely nice to be able to go away with something I had chosen myself. It would probably make a nice gift for a real chocolate lover.
In terms of the overall experience, I can definitely appreciate Nestle’s attempts at creating something memorable.
When you compare visiting the pop-up store to merely picking up a chocolate bar from a supermarket shelf – there’s no denying what will stick in the mind of consumers.
The technology in-store is slick and the whole atmosphere is quite buzzy.
It is just a shame that the concept is better than the reality, which is essentially that you get to ‘choose your own break’ rather than ‘create’ it.
If you really want to do that, you’d be better off baking along with Mary Berry.
The experience could definitely be improved by more visitor involvement and greater elements of personalisation (such as writing your own message, rather than selecting from a pre-chosen list).
So, while the KitKat Chocolatory did not quite live up to the hype, this might be more to do with consumer expectations than anything else.
With inspiring experiential marketing becoming standard practice for brands, and with successful examples like Pret’s Veggie pop-up providing real value and enjoyment for consumers, the bar has already been set higher.