Foreword by Dr. Àngel Cabrera, President, and Dr. Mary Teagarden,
Professor of Global Business, Thunderbird School of Global Management
Cacao began its global journey over five hundred years ago when the Spanish conquistadors
brought seeds back to Spain from Mesoamerica and introduced what would become an icon of the
western world's decadence and indulgence to Europe. Only during the last quarter of a century has
cacao's journey extended into China.
Today, world business leaders are captivated by the sheer size of the China market, and those in the global chocolate industry are no exception. In Chocolate
Fortunes, Lawrence Allen, a Thunderbird alumnus, paints a compelling, comprehensive and dynamic portrait of the global chocolate industry's quarter of a
century endeavor to capture the mindshare and taste buds of Chinese consumers, which proved a Sisyphean challenge for most.
It is fitting that this story be told by a Thunderbird alumnus. For the last sixty two years Thunderbird has been dedicated to educating global leaders who can
break barriers, build bridges of cooperation and understanding, and create new ventures that bring about prosperity around the world. Thunderbird’s approach is
a combination of global mindset (an appreciation of cultural and institutional differences), global entrepreneurship (turning differences into opportunities to
create value), global connections (the ability of building trusting and productive relationships across boundaries) and global citizenship (a commitment to
creating sustainable value for all parties involved in a global business enterprise). Allen’s career is the ultimate Thunderbird story. And he uses it to
thoughtfully extract lessons that can be of great value to many other leaders involved in the fascinating world of global business.
Allen skillfully weaves the story of the evolution of the Chinese economy from austerity to increasing affluence since it opened to the west just over thirty years
ago. While he does this through the lens of the chocolate industry in China, the tapestry of Chocolate Fortunes is a rich story of evolving social, cultural, and
economic Chinese dynamics and how these interact with business drama that focuses on one industry's major global competitors. Allen's ability to shift
between the specific practices and mind sets of competitors in the chocolate industry and the Chinese context in which they compete and back again is
engaging, entertaining and informative.
Chocolate Fortunes is a complex story representative of almost all industries that have entered this market, considered one of the most challenging in the world.
Allen's in-depth firsthand account of the five global chocolate titans–Ferrero, Cadbury, Hershey, Nestlé and Mars–documents five market entry approaches and
the impact of each competitor's administrative heritage that led each to take the path they chose. As importantly, Allen documents the impact that leaders'
decisions have on a company's success. His thick description of common China challenges such as local copy-cats, logistics nightmares, culturally-based
challenges or the emergence of credible local competitors provide generalizable lessons for any company considering entry into the increasingly sophisticated
China and the China market provided a perfect laboratory in which different market entry "experiments" could play out. The evolution of the Chinese economy
has been spectacular and much faster than anticipated. Most early China scholars and business investors cannot believe the pace and scope of change in thirty
years. The chocolate industry is an understandable one--and one that generates considerable passion and strong preferences among consumers. The chocolate
industry competitors encountered a clean slate in China and this gave each a perfect opportunity to shape the consumer's reality in their favor. Allen's
combination of this location, in this timeframe for this industry provides a remarkable panoramic comparison for marketers, strategists and leaders alike. It is
rare that such a comprehensive story can be documented and presented in such a compelling fashion. This story could only have been told by a perceptive
person with a front row seat and hands-on experience in the overlapping drama of the steps and missteps of the chocolate industry in this most recent leg of its
journey and the fits and starts of China's recent economic and social evolution.