Winner of the Good Retail Awards’ Power of One Award, Montezuma’s, has thought outside the box to support charitable causes, despite a reduction in people carrying cash. Their work has showcased how effective a charity partnership and effective communication can be in having a positive impact in retail. Modern Retail had the pleasure of speaking with Kate Jones, Marketing Manager of Montezuma’s about their inspirational approach.
After camping on a cocoa plantation in 1999, Founders Helen and Simon decided to leave their careers as lawyers behind to bring chocolate innovation to a rather uninspiring British chocolate market. Opening their own shop in Brighton in 2000, they began by hand-making chocolate bars themselves. As self-taught chocolate makers, they faced many steep learning curves and kept their passion for creating chocolate alive.
Fast forward to 2023, Montezuma’s has a reputation far bigger than their actual footprint, having 7 shops and a fantastic online store. But alongside their fantastic brand, they make sure that Montezuma’s has a positive impact around the world in a number of ways.
Having a positive impact in retail
From the very beginning, Montezuma’s has been on a mission to have a positive impact in retail, making chocolate from the best quality ethical cocoa sourced from plantations that meet their strict ‘Business Done Properly’ policy.
In addition to working in an ethical way, Montezuma’s supports Chichester-based charity ‘Children on the Edge’ who work tirelessly to support children around the world.
Building a partnership with Children on the Edge
Kate explained how the partnership with Children on the Edge began.
“They’re local to us and came to us to see if we could help supply them with chocolate for an Easter Egg hunt they were doing to raise money. We supplied them with some eggs and it all began from there. One of our Founders, Helen, is on the board for them and does a lot of work with them outside of Montezuma’s, as well as seeing their projects in person. A few people from our office have been too and it’s so amazing to see it go all the way through from people donating instore to making a positive difference.”
The challenge of less people carrying cash
Montezuma’s spotted a challenge with their fundraising as people began to carry less cash, finding a solution by working with Pennies. This saw them introduce an optional 50p donation with every instore purchase, or online, customers have the option to round their order up to the nearest pound. Since working with Pennies, they have successfully raised £38,790 and counting.
“We could see the move towards a cashless society and we noticed less people were donating in the donation pots in tills. We started doing bags for cash, so customers would pay a small amount for a little bag for their chocolate, with that money going to Children on the Edge, but then people started moving to using their own bags. This was when we knew we needed a solution to get more donations for them and that’s how working with Pennies came about.”
Training staff to grow awareness
Montezuma’s has incorporated their work with Children on the Edge into everything they do, taking customers on the journey with them.
“Communicating the great work that Children on the Edge do is a really big part of how the process works. We regularly meet with Children on the Edge and they update us on the projects, which helps the retail staff to walk with customers and they can share this information. Regulars donate on a regular basis so it’s essential that they feel part of the journey too.
“We have lots of chalkboards instore with the latest on Children on the Edge, so we love to tell people exactly where the money is going and we have very specific updates on the progress of the schools we’re building and the number of children in each one. Online, we use emails and blogs to keep people up to date too.”
The reception to raising money for great causes
The reception has been incredible to Montezuma’s fantastic work with Children on the Edge, showing the impact that having a positive impact in retail can have, as well as taking customers on the journey.
“Everything we do is with the customers in mind and our customers are really keen to support these charities and the work they do, so we’re always receiving great feedback. Sometimes, as a customer, they don’t know the best way to donate, or where it goes. The great news is that we can inform them, share the work our chosen charity does and give them the option to make a difference while offering that reassurance.
“Pennies are such a brilliant team to work with and they’ve got us involved in ways that we can help support other small businesses on the journey. It’s been such a lovely thing for us to develop.”
Winning at The Good Retail Awards
Kate explained how much Montezuma’s success at the Good Retail Awards means to the team, as well as the wider community.
“Winning at The Good Retail Awards not only means a lot to us, but also to Pennies and Children on the Edge. They both work with people finding out about them and creating awareness and that’s such a benefit. It’s a great opportunity for us to remind our customers about this relationship and take a step back and look at how much we’ve managed to do.
“For a company of our size to raise so much, we’re incredibly proud. We have 7 shops and out online store, but we have such a high conversion rate that almost one in two donate with their purchase. It’s a testament to the customers as they’re so passionate about it.”
Catherine Erdly, Founder and Retail Strategy Consultant of the Resilient Retail Club, commented on Montezuma’s approach: “This great initiative takes into account the changing ways that customers pay, while having a fantastic and positive impact.”
Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail’s Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today’s ever-changing market.