It’s a common sight in grocery stores across the country — a bored looking demo model standing behind a table of messily placed samples, imploring customers in a monotone voice to “Please try a sample.”
Having built sampling teams for Glaceau Vitaminwater and Smartwater, Madecasse Director of Marketing Sarah Shah was well aware of how to build a stellar sampling program. So Shah and her team have just launched a new sampling program for Madecasse’s, staffed solely with former Madagascar Peace Corps volunteers.
The goal is to create more in depth customer interactions led by individuals who can speak to the economic benefits of purchasing Madecasse chocolate.
“That was really the driver for this,” Shah told NOSH. “Who’s going to be the most passionate person to speak about what we do?”
The brand’s ultimate goal is to help farmers with the economic issues surrounding cocoa growing. The chocolate brand’s founders, Brett Beach and Tim McCollum, met while serving in the Peace Corps in Madagascar and founded Madecasse as a way to elevate some of the problems they observed first-hand.
“When you deal with commodities like cocoa, you have no control and you’re really beholden to what the market price is that day,” Shah said. “What we’ve set out to do is empower these farmers that we work with and give them equipment like fermenting and drying equipment so they can be more involved along the whole value chain of making chocolate.”
Shah and her team found that Peace Corps volunteers were already familiar with Madecasse and had a desire to keep helping the country.
“A goal of the Peace Corp Program, is to have the volunteers who’ve done the program come back to the United States and educate people on their experience,” Shah noted. “This has been a really nice way for them to feel like they’re still a part of it and still contributing to the good of the country that they spent so much time in.”
Currently the program (which has been dubbed “The Chocolate Corps”) has six ambassadors in five cities with plans to expand to roughly ten additional cities over 2017. The paid positions are part time for now.
“I’m sharing the Madécasse story [but] ultimately I’m talking about Madagascar,” said Nicole Diarra, Seattle Brand ambassador. “Its people and how Madécasse is really truly working with farmers, factory workers, and chocolate-makers to not only create delicious chocolate, but a product that helps creates economic growth and stability for people in Madagascar.”