Thursday 19 July 2018

Marketing people: Aisling Walsh

Marketing Director, Butlers Chocolates

Aisling Walsh, Butler's Chocolates
Aisling Walsh, Butler's Chocolates Business

Set up in Dublin in 1932 and now owned by the Sorensen family who acquired it in 1959,  Butlers Chocolates has grown substantially in the intervening period.

Operating at the premium end of the market and exporting to over 40 countries and available in 60 airports around the world, the company also operates 19 cafés around Ireland with further growth planned for the future according as marketing director Aisling Walsh tells John McGee.

Describe your role with the firm.

I have been with the company for 26 years and it has been a very interesting journey along the way. In addition to working with the marketing team on the overall marketing function, including digital, PR, communications, trade and consumer activity, I am also involved in working with a number of key customers both in Ireland and abroad. It is a very varied role in a fantastic industry and it’s safe to say no two days are the same.

What are the challenges you face as a marketer?

The luxury confectionery category is an interesting one with lots of seasonal variations. Internationally we are working hard to build the brand and develop brand awareness of Butlers as a standalone premium chocolate brand.

There are lots of great international players who are all well established in the mind of the consumer. So, it takes time and focus to encourage, trial and develop loyalty among consumers. In a lot of instances, our packaging is our brand ambassador so we focus a lot of attention on creating beautiful gift boxes that have strong on-shelf appeal.

In addition to focusing on packaging we also think a lot about distribution and where and how Butlers Chocolates are positioned. We are also just about to launch a brand new website with a beautiful new design and a particular emphasis on the mobile user experience.

How are the retail retail coffee shops performing?

The first Butlers Chocolate Café opened in Dublin’s Wicklow Street in 1998. Since then we have opened 19 cafés in Ireland as well as international franchises in the Middle East and South Asia. Last year saw the opening of a Butlers Chocolate Café in the high profile Dubai Airport which was an exciting development for the company. Chocolate and coffee sit very well together and are a natural combination.

What are the growth opportunities?

We are very focused on innovation and new product development which help drive growth. This year saw the launch of Butlers mini bars – a range of six individually wrapped bars based on some of Butlers’ most popular recipes. These were launched at a trade fair in Singapore and have been well received in airports such as Dublin, Dubai and Heathrow and are now available in all Butlers Chocolate Cafes. This October we have launched a collaboration with the Shed Distillery in Leitrim with a collection of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish gin-flavoured truffles and chocolate bars. These will be launched at the Loop in Dublin Airport in time for Christmas.

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