€16 a bar: KitKat launch luxury made-to-order service

Tea-break snack gets gourmet makeover, with 1,500 flavour combinations

 KitKat: a gourmet version of the chocolate bar will be available in the UK. Photograph: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty

KitKat: a gourmet version of the chocolate bar will be available in the UK. Photograph: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty

 

We used to be content just nibbling milk chocolate off KitKat fingers, but soon consumers will be able to snack on a “luxury handcrafted” version – for up to €16 a bar – as the tea-break staple gets a gourmet makeover.

Bespoke KitKats are expected to be one of the must-have Christmas presents in Britain after its owner, the food giant Nestlé, revealed the upmarket KitKat Chocolatory range.

Either via a dedicated website, or by visiting a pop-up stall in the flagship John Lewis department store in London, shoppers will be able to order a custom KitKat from nearly 1,500 possible flavour combinations. The ingredient choices include rose petals and cocoa nibs and there is the option to coat the fingers in ruby chocolate. It has also produced “special edition” flavours – a surprising line-up that includes marmalade, Earl Grey and “whisky & ginger”.

Cheryl Allen, marketing manager for KitKat, said it was a good time to try something new because there was a lot of “buzz” around Instagram-friendly updates, such as matcha green tea flavour and ruby chocolate, that appeal to younger consumers.

“KitKat was launched in the 1930s and one of the reasons it has endured for so long is because it has been able to evolve,” said Allen. “These are luxury, handcrafted chocolates and I think it will positively surprise people how far you can stretch this brand.”

But a luxury KitKat comes with a luxury price tag. The 150g eight-fingered bespoke bars – which will be made to order in Yorkshire – cost £14 (€16). A normal four-fingered KitKat usually costs 65p (75c). The special editions start at £7.50 (€8.50).

“We are very clear that the bulk of our [chocolate] business remains in the mainstream,” said Allen. “This is a differentiated and premium product that is made to order.”

Consumers are gravitating towards craft products, a shift that has created a market for posh versions of everything from mixer drinks to gin and beer. The same trend is obvious in confectionery where incumbents are being forced to rethink their models as fast-growing companies such as Hotel Chocolat bring luxury chocolate to the high street. This is the first time Nestlé’s confectionery arm has launched a direct to consumer business in Britian or Ireland.

KitKat: “Chocolatory” boutiques are already common in Japan. Photograph: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty
KitKat: “Chocolatory” boutiques are already common in Japan. Photograph: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty

Nestlé has borrowed Chocolatory from Japan where it already runs KitKat boutiques under that name. What is a popular tea dunker in Europe is a different biscuit in Japan, where it has an upmarket image. It is a popular good luck present (the name resembles kitto katsu, which means “you will surely win” in Japanese) and since the millennium more than 300 flavours, including sake, edamame bean and wasabi, have been developed for the gift-giving culture.

With customised gifts also a huge trend – named tins of Quality Street have been popular in recent years – it is also possible to put a message on the KitKat box.

A pop-up shop opens in the flagship John Lewis in London on October 1st. The British department store is also stocking special edition KitKats in 30 shops. – Guardian