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The Humanization of Consumer Engagement

February 2012

By Kendah El-Ali, New York

With the Brooklyn artisanal food revolution now in full swing, it’s important to note a chocolate-making pair of brothers who stood at the helm (no pun intended) of the movement more than five years ago. Mast Brothers’ Chocolate has grown rapidly since Rick and Michael Mast began crafting bean-to-bar chocolate in their Brooklyn kitchen in 2006

The brothers source their own beans and have even gone so far as to sail a shipment from the Dominican Republic to the docks in Red Hook, Brooklyn, by themselves.  “We are chocolate-makers,” says Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory Tour Manager Derek Herbster. “Hershey’s and many other chocolates you see, they aren’t chocolatiers.  We start with the bean and carry through with every stage of the craft by hand.  People make this chocolate.”

And that is the difference between biting into their Papua New Guinea bar, versus a handful of M&Ms.  So much painstaking detail is put into the process that the chocolates themselves become edible art all the way down to their exquisite wrapping papers, which are designed on-site as well.  In the Masts’ hands, chocolate becomes as prideful of a process as making wine, elevating the experience for the consumer with it.

On a somewhat less palatable—yet no less specific—front, the automotive sector is also looking to connect its products with the human experience.  For the past few years, Ford Motors has stood at the forefront of integrating social media into their brand, building Facebook campaigns and Smartphone apps long before their competition cared to. The idea was pushed to a new level with their concept, the Ford Evos, however. Unveiled Stateside this year at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show the hybrid vehicle aims to be cloud connected, synching the car with the entirety of its driver’s life. Elements such as traffic, weather, work schedule and even heart rate are monitored, allowing the car to adjust everything from your alarm time to the car’s cabin temperature.

It also connects you with other drivers on the road, bringing a whole new angle to social media.  It’s difficult to interact with your neighbor in car-based cities, such as Detroit and Los Angeles, much less discover new places to go.  The Evos can help direct you down scenic routes, interact with other drivers and discover new ways to connect with people beyond your steering wheel.  “It’s such an amazing concept,” said Brooklyn-based entrepreneur Jeff Beil. “People spend so much time in their cars. We consume media, communicate and plan while using the car to get from task to task. It makes total sense for our cars to know where we are, where we’re going and to help coordinate and synchronize the content, media and personal preferences to make those journeys not only more fruitful but more fun.”

Food & Drink
New York

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