Hotel Chocolat ‘Lock In’ giving personal edge to experiential retail

Experiential retail is undeniably becoming the norm – virtual realities and interactive technology all elevating bricks and mortar into something new. But away from the gleam of technology, Hotel Chocolat’s ‘Lock In’ brought things back to basics with a classic in-store event; not a screen in sight. It may not be the answer to experiential retail that shoppers can see on a daily basis, but it provided something much more intimate. With just 10 guests and a physical ‘Lock In’, the experience felt truly personal. Looking through our 5 drivers, we explore how retailers can still benefit from these more authentic events…

Immersing ourselves in cocoa expertise

In today’s world where face-to-face contact is increasingly under pressure in an era of WhatsApp and Snapchat, being locked in a room with 9 strangers [JL1] may feel slightly unnatural. As does the idea of ‘describing’ chocolate – initial tasting notes slightly hampering our ability to relax. Fortunately, staff were on hand to lend their expertise.

Within five minutes, we were immersed in the world of fine chocolate. Staff had a clear passion for their craft and for the Sri Lankan and Ghanaian suppliers who work hard to produce the finest possible produce. Peppered with personal anecdotes that felt professional yet conversational, we were all eagerly asking questions with mouthfuls of chocolate – ‘ahhing’ at the responses.

Giving us the freedom to indulge our desires, with no added guilt!

While immersed in staff’s expertise, luxuriating with a glass of prosecco and tasting seven chocolates all in quick succession was true decadence on a Thursday evening. Ending with a £10 voucher equivalent to our ticket price also felt like the ultimate freedom – we could spontaneously splurge on chocolate without feeling excessive.

Not only could we let our desire driver run loose, but there was no guilt attached. With continual references to low sugar content and ethical production methods, we were given absolute license to indulge. Ending by tasting an actual cocoa bean embodied this – we left full of chocolate yet positive, as we’d gorged on something of the utmost quality.

Whilst ramping up the experience of everyday shopping is key, Hotel Chocolat has proved that one-off events still hold value. As interactive stores become the expectation, the special nature of exclusive events lures shoppers in on a different level. And when paired with expertise and guilt-free chocolate, we can’t deny it’s a winning combination.


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