At Clay's request I read almost every one of the 500+ comments on the article. Heck, I even read the article!
I'll sum it up for you: Superfluous Jibber Jabber.
Of the 500+ comments to the article I only found a couple of (at best) luke warm compliments to their chocolate, and ignored the plethora of comments insulting their beards. Wow... I had no idea people hated beards that much! Who knew??
Here is a summary of the comments I DID find on their chocolate - the words and phrases are pulled directly from the posts:
- too intense
- sh*tty overpriced chocolate
- did not measure up
- i had to spit it from my mouth it was so awful
- my palate wasn't sophisticated enough to 'get it'
- I can just tolerate their Special Dark
- chalky and really disliked it
- I live in the neighborhood and I really wanted to like Mast Chocolate - but after many attempts - it has always been disappointing.
This company and it's founders are truly the poster children for what I've been preaching about on this site for years: LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS!!!!
Knowing the types of machines they have, and how much volume (of PROPERLY conched chocolate) on a weekly basis each machine can produce, I can definitively tell you that Mast Bros. are taking shortcuts with respect to product in order to address demand issues.
Those shortcuts will spell their demise. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but within the next 5 years. Mark my words.
I'm sure at one time they produced great chocolate. However today, according to people who have bought it and tried it, they aren't and that very unsilent majority is spreading the word that it's crap. They have already spread out significantly into surrounding communities. WHY? Because nobody in THEIR community is buying their chocolate anymore. NOBODY LIKES IT.
Rick Mast may disagree with me. Maybe you do too. But think about this for a second: There are 2.6 million people in Brookly alone. That means in just Brooklyn approximately 25.1 million lbs of chocolate gets consumed every year. One would think that if they made "the best", it wouldn't be hard to completely sell out AT FULL RETAIL PRICE of the tiny amount they make with a consumption pool of that size surrounding them.
Yet they don't sell out in their shop, and have branched out to other communities, selling their bars at a wholesale price, instead of focusing locally and selling out at full retail and being more profitable.
As an analyst, this tells me their product ISN'T the best (or even close), and that they don't give a flying pinch of pigeon poop what their customers think or want - justifying their ignorance by spouting off about not caring about what the critics say, or pushing their own beliefs of good chocolate down the throats of those who enter their shop once, and most likely won't come back, as they 'aren't sophisticated enough'.
In business, refusing to listen to your customers is a great recipe for failure, and while they will make some headway in the next few years due to their funky look and the media interest in the craft chocolate industry, I assure you they won't be the media darling for much longer. When the cameras disappear, and the media dust settles, they'll be left standing there scratching their hipster beards and saying to each other, "Hey dude... where did everyone go?".
I make and sell chocolate too, and in a city that is a fraction of the size of Brooklyn. My team and current equipment can't keep up with local demand and it's a hell of a lot more industrial than the units the Mast Bros use. I CAN'T expand without taking a giant leap and building a large factory, and I'm certainly not going to sell a single bar at a discount if I know we can sell it at full retail pop in the next few days! Doing otherwise is truly stupid. In a city of only a million people Choklat has become so popular that my shop holds chocolate and wine tasting events 4 nights a week in Calgary, and twice a week in Edmonton, and we are sold out until 2016. Yup. You heard it! You can't reserve a seat in any of our events until NEXT YEAR!!!
The bottom line here is that somebody will always stand out from the crowd, and unfortunately it's all too often that the media dictates who that somebody is. (Remember a few years ago those douches named Sacred Steve and David Wolfe, who were spouting off about "raw chocolate" all over the place?).
In this case it's the bearded hipsters in Brooklyn, and while I don't personally think the attention they are getting is a bad thing for the craft chocolate industry (after all it's creating awareness in the marketplace), I think that in time the market will dictate what it wants, and if Mast Bros. doesn't give it what it wants, they will join Sacred Steve and his funky hat somewhere in "Faded Fad Land" where they can debate the popularity of their beards vs. Steve's hat.
In the meantime I too will continue ignoring the self indulgent, pretentious critics, just as I have done in the past. However, at the same time I WILL be listening to my customers and selling a boatload of chocolate because of it.
updated by @brad-churchill: 03/18/15 01:50:21AM