I thought I would put in my 2 cents here because I have made many mistakes while starting my company.
One mistake I made was looking at the chocolatiers that have products at this level and trying to mimic their prices, or at least get close. But not all cirumstances are the same, (.e location, market, etc...). I just got back from New York and couldn't believe that I was paying $2.25 to $2.50 for a single piece of chocolate, granted some of them were good. But you have to think about what kind of rent they pay, how much their labor is and just doing business in market like that. It makes me love Kansas city because cost of living is very reasonable.
I couldn't get away with charging that much here, even if I felt my products was just as good. I still think that we are one of the better values among this market. I have wholsale customers who sell my chocolates for much more than I do!
Here is the catch though, people look at price and make a judgement before they even consume the product, "If something is more expensive, then it must be better". The psychology behind marketing and pricing can be very tricky. Hopefully after time the consumer will become more educated and be able to filter through all the marketing and packaging and judge what is inside.
I sell mine by the piece instead of by weight. We have some pieces that are smaller but they take just as much time to produce as the larger pieces, and labor is the most expensive part of a piece of chocolate no matter where it is produced.
It is true also that raising your price is difficult after you get started, I went through that so give this a lot of though before you set your price point. Do a thorough cost analysis, taking into account every expense. Like was said before, this is not a charity, you do need to make a living.
Sorry for the rambling email but this is a very challenging aspect of the business and hope I have helped a little.
do you charge one price regardless of piece, or does each piece cost a different amount?
how did you go about doing an analysis? did you hire someone or did it on your own?
I've heard good things about your chocolate. I will be making a trip on sunday to cocoa bella in san francisco, which i understand sells some of your chocolates. Any recommondations on your favorite ones?
I do charge one price regardless of piece. I did a cost analysis on about 10 of my pieces so I could get a good idea on a range. All of my pieces are relatively close in size but there are a few that are a bit smaller. I figured out the cost of the ingredients but also figured out labor as well. I did this by getting a timer and timing all of the steps that went into production. It is a pain, but I did it for all of the different types (caramels, molded, enrobed, multi layer, marzipans etc...).
I added a fixed percentage for utilities, rent, and General Expenses (office supplies, postage). Then I was able to get a fairly accurate per piece price.
Once you have this formula, you can change it, for example I am building a new shop and my rent is going to basically triple so I can plug that into the equation. Or if you hire someone at $9.00 and hour instead of $10.00 an hour you can change that as well.
I am going to be at CocoaBella next week doing a sampling of some things ( I am not sure what day it is scheduled for yet, probably Friday or Saturday the 2nd or 3rd. You could find out from CocaoBella for sure.
Hope this helps,