Turning customers into activists
From an article by Corporate Rebels
Tony’s Chocolonely was set up in 2005 with a clear purpose: “Together we make chocolate 100% slave free”. The company pursues that purpose by producing and selling chocolate.
Tony’s Chocolonely was founded in a remarkable way. Back in 2002, journalist Teun van de Keuken was shocked to discover that most chocolate was produced by child slavery. He felt the need to take matters into his own hands. He recorded himself eating 17 bars of chocolate. Subsequently, he took himself to court for “knowingly purchasing an illegally manufactured product”. When the public prosecutor refused to prosecute him, he found 4 former cocoa child slaves from Ivory Coast to testify against him.
While awaiting the judge’s decision (in 2007 the case was dismissed because of jurisdiction issues), Teun tried to convince chocolate manufacturer Nestlé to start producing slave-free chocolate. Their response: No. Teun then decided to start making his own chocolate. In 2005, Tony’s Chocolonely was born.
In terms of sales, Tony’s has been a success right from the start. They have grown rapidly as their sales numbers rose and market share increased. But for Tony’s, it’s not just about these traditional metrics.
They invest heavily in creating awareness through education and training of farmers and consumers. They pay a premium (higher than fair-trade premiums) to farmers to ensure proper pay. They actively track down and combat child labour. Their beans are 100% traceable to ensure transparency and fairness. In short: Tony’s Chocolonely puts its money – and chocolate – where its mouth is.
At Tony’s, they believe that the only way to get closer to achieving their purpose, is to work with the most passionate and involved people. So, they invest a lot in creating a great culture to keep these people involved and happy.
There are five groups of people that are important to the company. Moving from important to most important he starts with suppliers, then retailers, followed by consumers. In number two place are the farmers Tony’s works with in Africa. But at number one are Tony’s employees. Do staff enjoy their work? Are they having fun? Are they connected to the bigger mission?
Here are a few of their core working practices:
The week starts with a 30-minute Monday stand-up meeting of the whole team.
Staff can take home as much chocolate as they can carry. To compensate, free running shoes are provided.
Staff have unlimited vacation (with a minimum of 28 days) and line managers are held accountable that employees take the days.
They organise boot camps, yoga, skiing trips and the teams sit together at their cafeteria to eat a healthy lunch and exchange chit-chat.
Teams set their own goals and objectives for the year on a one-page document.
Furthermore, Tony’s has created a safe culture where their people are encouraged to speak up. At ‘Critical Sessions’, they cover such subjects as diversity. Once a year, the team travels off-site to the ‘Chocademy’ for two days to focus on a topic. Since they are growing like crazy, they talk about work pressure – and how to take and keep control of projects. Tony’s people work hard and must be protected from burn-out. Tony’s has grown to become one of Europe’s top Great Places To Work.
They’re the market leader in The Netherlands, almost everyone knows the company and their chocolate, and in 2018 they generated revenues of over € 55 million (a 22% increase). Surprisingly, they've never spent any money on advertising! They do love to speak at conferences, talk about their purpose in the media, and invite customers to actively share their story so they jointly create more impact.
What makes Tony’s so successful? It’s about being mindful of the following:
Never think you are too small to make a difference. Everyone can make a difference within an organisation. Speak up.
Invest in your culture above and beyond what is expected – and disproportionately so!
Pick what you want to do and know why. Tony’s Chocolonely is an impact maker, not a chocolate maker. Chocolate is the medium to make impact.
Being financially successful is a means for them to get closer to their purpose, it’s not a goal in itself.
Read the full article here.
Here is Tony’s Chocolonely Manifesto:
And a thought piece - Tony's Chocolonely - unequally divided chocolate bar:
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