‘SMOOR’licious: Chocolate genius Vimal Sharma talks about his ‘SMOOR’ sojourn on World Chocolate Day

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SMOOR

SMOOR – A brand that is synonymous with luxury and crafts the ultimate indulgence experiences with couverture chocolates, was created by the master chocolatier Vimal Sharma in March 2015. The luxury chocolate brand opened its first flagship store in August 2016 in Bangalore to create a new benchmark for Imagined in India’s finely crafted foods. And in its endeavour to create luxury chocolates with the finest ingredients, SMOOR brings together authentic ingredients, passionate people, and a premium range of products including chocolates, signature cakes, gift hampers, desserts, beverages, and much more. TheGlitz spoke exclusively to Vimal Sharma, Founder, Director, and CEO of SMOOR, on World Chocolate Day to find out more about SMOOR and more…

SMOOR
Vimal Shah

SMOOR Talk

Over to Vimal Shah

What inspired you to start SMOOR Chocolates, and how has your journey in the chocolate industry evolved over the years?

Starting a chocolate company is like embarking on a flavorful adventure. Imagine waking up each day knowing you’re about to craft something that brings joy to people’s taste buds. It’s not just about making chocolate; it’s about infusing your passion into every bar or truffle you create.

You get to experiment endlessly with flavors, from classic combinations to bold new tastes that surprise and delight customers. It’s about that moment when someone tries your chocolate and their eyes light up with satisfaction – that’s what makes it all worth it.

Bringing true chocolate to the Indian market, educate the consumer about the importance of consuming quality chocolate was the ultimate reason why I always wanted to bring a concept like this to life.

We started 2016 with our signature lounge at Indiranagar, Bangalore. Today the brand has over 75 stores in cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi NCR, Pune & Chennai. The brand also has a strong online presence through its D2C website smoor.in and also available on Swiggy, Zomato & Amazon. SMOOR is known for chocolates and desserts where chocolate is our IP. SMOOR was conceived as a destination for all things chocolate & to give the Indian customer an international, indulgent experience like never before. Our focus is on providing a luxury chocolate experience and indulgent chocolate-based treats. Today the brand has grown to represent not just chocolates but high-quality international-style cakes & desserts for all occasions – self-indulgence& celebrations.

SMOOR

SMOOR Chocolates are known for their premium quality and unique flavors. What is the creative process behind developing new and innovative chocolate products?

SMOOR is a homegrown brand that offers coverture chocolates. We create flavours & textures that help customers experience chocolates in many ways. Be it the percentage of cocoa in the chocolate or the use of ingredients. We pair our chocolates with international nuts & flavours like hazelnuts, macadamia nuts & cranberry as well as & Indian flavours & spices like cardamom, star anise & Assam tea.

We achieve the textures through the way we temper our chocolates or stone grinding the cocoa beans for added smoothness.

Secondly, we can customize a box of chocolates according to the customers’ palette. For example, if a customer is looking for a high cocoa percentage, we can create a box of pralines using the cocoa %. If they want to blend the chocolates to the Indian Mithais flavour, we can produce those as well. This not only goes for the gifting boxes but also, for your beverages as well as snacking chocolates. SMOOR also offers cakes, Macarons & desserts which customers relish. Here too we experiment with Indian & international flavours Our cake customers enjoy our Belgian truffle cake as much as they relish the Rasmali cake that we had introduced as a Limited Time only product! Similarly, in Macarons we offer exciting flavours, including 6 flavours of eggless macarons. Here too we offer Indian flavours like Alphonso mango, pistachio and rose as well as international favourites like Hazelnut, single-origin chocolate and salted caramel.

Can you share a bit about the challenges and triumphs you’ve faced in establishing SMOOR Chocolates as a leading name in the premium chocolate market?

Challenges:
• Market Competition: The premium chocolate market in India is competitive with both local artisanal brands and international giants present.
• Brand Awareness: Educating consumers about the premium quality and unique characteristics of your chocolates compared to more established brands.
• Distribution Logistics: Managing offline stores across India involves logistical challenges in terms of supply chain management and maintaining product quality.
• Online Presence: Building a robust online presence requires investment in e-commerce platforms, digital marketing, and logistics for nationwide deliveries.
• Price Sensitivity: Indian consumers can be price-sensitive, making it challenging to justify higher price points for premium products.
• Seasonal Demand: Fluctuations in demand during festive seasons versus lean periods can impact inventory management and cash flow.

Triumphs:
• Quality and Innovation: Offering superior quality and innovative flavors that stand out in the market, appealing to discerning consumers.
• Brand Loyalty: Building a loyal customer base through consistent quality, unique product offerings, and excellent customer service.
• Omni-channel Presence: Leveraging both offline stores and online platforms to reach a wider audience and cater to different consumer preferences.
• Customer Experience: Providing a personalized and memorable customer experience, especially in offline stores, can enhance brand loyalty.
• Partnerships and Collaborations: Collaborating with cafes, hotels, and corporate clients for bulk orders and special events can expand brand visibility and sales.
• Brand Positioning: Establishing a strong brand identity as a premium chocolate maker through effective branding, packaging, and storytelling.

Navigating these challenges while capitalizing on your triumphs has helped us solidify our brand’s position in the competitive premium chocolate market in India.

As a chocolate connoisseur, how do you see the future of the chocolate industry, especially in terms of sustainability and ethical sourcing?

As a premium chocolate brand, your future hinges significantly on embracing sustainability and ethical sourcing practices. Consumers today are increasingly conscious of the environmental and social impacts of their purchases, particularly when it comes to luxury goods. By committing to sustainable cocoa sourcing, supporting fair trade practices, and minimizing your environmental footprint through eco-friendly packaging and production methods, you not only meet these consumer expectations but also enhance your brand’s reputation. This approach not only differentiates you in a competitive market but also ensures compliance with evolving regulatory standards and fosters long-term resilience in your supply chain. Moreover, embracing sustainability can spur innovation within your product offerings and operational processes, opening up new opportunities for growth and partnerships.

We source baskets and trays made with banana fiber, river grass and newspaper from artisans to help their cause, we also ensure we buy our festive materials like diyas, etc from schools with autistic students. Thus, integrating sustainability into our business strategy is not just a trend but a strategic imperative for securing a positive and ethical future for our premium chocolate brand.

With World Chocolate Day approaching, how does SMOOR Chocolates plan to celebrate, and what special initiatives or promotions do you have lined up for chocolate enthusiasts?


This World Chocolate Day, SMOOR invites all chocolate lovers to indulge in the ultimate chocolate experience at their grand Soiree de Chocolat! Get ready to immerse yourself in a decadent celebration of all things chocolate, where every bite promises to delight your senses. From loads of exciting contests, interactive experiences & engaging sessions where you can handcraft your own chocolate, SMOOR’s chocolate extravaganza is the perfect place to celebrate your love for Sweet Cravings. Join us for an unforgettable journey into the world of chocolate, where indulgence knows no bounds!
Event Date and Location: Soirée de Chocolat at SMOOR Signature Lounge Lavelle Road: 7th July
Event Time: 5 pm to 9 pm
Pricing: Rs 1299

Activities
• Mount Cocoa: Craft your own custom chocolate bar from peak to perfection.
• Praline Paradise: Design your own praline masterpiece under a chef’s guidance!
• Experience Zones:
• Zone 1: Frosted Peaks: Can you conquer a cupcake hands-free?
• Zone 2: Persona Playhouse: Get to know your inner chocoholic – Spin the wheel and discover your chocolate personality!
• Zone 3: Blindfold Calletopia: Challenge yourself to guess the cocoa content blindfolded!
• Zone 4: Tossington Alley: Test your aiming skills and win chocolatey prizes with a lucky toss!

On July 7th, 2024, experience the extraordinary SMOORLAND, a hidden island made entirely of the finest chocolate, which appears for just one day. Don’t miss your chance to visit this fleeting paradise. Calling all chocolate lovers! Secure your spot by registering in advance due to the limited availability of spaces. Guests can obtain their boarding passes to immerse themselves in the decadent wonders of SMOORLAND for a worthwhile experience that will make them remember SMOOR with every bite.

Register now to secure your spot

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