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Interview

Caprice des Dieux – A tale of French success

Caprice des Dieux is a unique cheese that was created by Jean-Noël Bongrain in 1956 and has since become one of the most recognizable and popular cheeses in France. To learn how this original French fromage became a phenomenon in its home country, we spoke with Christophe Prouvost, Director Marketing for this delicious and unique cheese.

Hello, Christophe. How do you explain the success of the Caprice des Dieux cheese?

First and foremost, the cheese is a pure delicacy: smooth, mild and full-flavored. An ultra-tasty cheese that’s light and fresh.

To better understand the beginning of this success story, we have to go back to the context of the1950s. At the time, the only cheeses available were either runny or dry and tasteless. So Mr. Bongrain worked to create a different kind of cheese, one that would satisfy the expectations of large number of consumers looking for cheeses that had a sweeter taste and a more velvety texture. Thus in 1956, after five years of research, the "Caprice des Dieux” was born.

Is the great taste of this cheese the only explanation for its success?

That’s one part of it, but there are other factors as well. Once the recipe was established, the creator had to find a way to promote his new cheese. With the unique lozenge shape that he chose, Mr. Bongrain knew his cheese would not go unnoticed amidst the square and round cheeses that lined the shelves.

But then to market this cheese, he had to name it and package it. This cheese was so heavenly that you might think the gods themselves were treating each other to a little caprice, so Mr. Bongrain decided to call it “Caprice des Dieux “, Caprice of the Gods.

The illustration on the package is also the result of a daring approach and a level of creativity that broke with the standard colors cheese boxes. He chose black, red and gold, and then a less conventional color, blue. This was not a random choice. The color blue conveys the idea that this cheese is always very fresh. As for the visual, the original image of a monk and a farm girl was abandoned in favour of the gods, Zeus and Poseidon, which seems like the natural choice to highlight the name of the cheese

Why is “Caprice des Dieux” still popular 50 years later?

There was a real logic to the initial approach. You might even say that it was quite avant-garde from the marketing point of view. The brilliant idea was to create a pleasing cheese that was more like a sweet treat than a cheese and to separate it from the pack with its unusual blue lozenge shape. Mr. Bongrain was thus an innovator in the highly traditional cheese sector with respect to the taste as well as with respect to consumer habits and the universe produced. Society’s evolution toward greater pleasure and richer tastes but also toward the all-important health factor (less fat, less salt...) proved him right. And visually, the box has slowly evolved to keep up with the times.

What changes have been made to the Caprice des Dieux box?

First, in 1964, we replaced the gods, who had been deemed too serious, with light-hearted little angels. We chose angels because they are very pleasant divine characters. Friendlier, more cheerful little cupids are better suited to this love of a cheese! As for the format, in 1973, Caprice des Dieux adopted a family format with its 300g box. In 1988, at the height of miniaturization, the cheese was also produced in the smaller “Mini Caprice” format. And in 2009, always concerned about responding to our customers’ evolving expectations, particularly those of our younger customers, Caprice des Dieux added “En Cas de Caprice…”, which means “in case of a caprice”. Its format is adapted to the new forms of consumption, so as you can see, Caprice’s success story is still being written.

Translated from the French sister site: quiveutdufromage.com