Sunshine and sugar confectionery go hand in hand, and with 40% of sweets sold through convenience stores, it’s key that you ensure the fixture is looking its best for the summer months.

“While many might not see it as such, summer is definitely a season to consider in the confectionery calendar,” says Hancocks purchasing director Jonathan Summerley. He advises retailers that as well as honing in on specific opportunities depending on their local shopper profile, they should put more emphasis on sugar confectionery and less on chocolate.

Chewits manufacturer Leaf Confectionery agrees. “There is a natural increase in sugar confectionery sales versus chocolate in the summer months, when warmer temperatures see consumers switching out of chocolate into lighter sugar confectionery products,” says trade marketing manager Joanne Carr. “It would make complete sense for convenience store retailers to review the balance of sugar versus chocolate ready for the peak summer period.”

Sugar confectionery buyers shop in a fundamentally different way to chocolate shoppers, observes Nestlé. Trade communications manager Graham Walker says: “Whereas chocolate is purchased mainly on impulse, sugar confectionery is sought out by shoppers who have a particular occasion in mind.”

And warmer weather means plenty of sugar confectionery consumption occasions. “Fruity sugar confectionery is the perfect companion for the summer weather,” says Wrigley communications manager Louisa Rowntree. “With the summer months come opportunities such as BBQs, picnics and gatherings at friends’ houses.”

Frugal shoppers

The economic climate is having a huge impact on the sugar confectionery market. “People are opting to stay in rather than spend money they can ill afford on going out,” says Tangerine executive chairman Stephen Joseph. Instead, consumers are choosing to entertain at home, which has led to an increase in sharing occasions, with sugar sharing bags up 1% to £214m in the convenience channel (IRI MAT Value Sales 52 weeks ending April 23, 2011).

The fact that consumers are counting the pennies has also meant that providing a value offering is vital. “Value is the key trend that is supporting the growth of the category,” says Haribo managing director Herwig Vennekens. “Haribo regularly reinforces value through price promotions that support impulse purchase, or in the case of new products, encourages trial.”

Haribo’s latest value offering is a three for £1 promotion on its 50g handy packs, which it is running alongside its existing £1 pricemarked 250g packs.

And Haribo isn’t alone in offering consumers value for money. Swizzels Matlow has introduced a range of mini hanging bags to be sold at 39p each or three for £1.

In a similar vein, Hancocks recently redesigned and relaunched its ‘three for 99p’ range of children’s bags, which are individually pricemarked at 39p.

“In the current climate, pricemarked bags are good for retailers to stock as consumers can clearly see price points and these often reflect good value for money, which is key to price-conscious consumers,” notes Perfetti Van Melle. All of the company’s bagged Fruittella products have a £1 rrp.

Nestlé has also developed £1 sharing bags for Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles, Fruit Gums and Pick N Mix, which are specifically designed with the convenience channel in mind.

Popular lines from Cadbury including Bassett’s Jelly Babies and Liquorice Allsorts, and Maynards’ Wine Gums, Midget Gems and Sports Mixture also have £1 price flashes on packs.

Softly, softly

Soft eats continue to be the main choice of sugar confectionery for consumers, which has led to a ripple of change within the jellies market.

Haribo is the UK’s leading gums and jellies brand with a 25.8% value share of the total market. And the brand intends to stay front of mind throughout the summer with its Haribo Funtime campaign, which is targeting families via a mass sampling tour and the launch of a new web portal.

Cadbury’s The Natural Confectionery Company (TNCC) has also made a name for itself in recent years with its permissible message to parents. “Consumers are becoming more educated about the food they are eating,” says trade communications manager Susan Nash. “This helps to strengthen the sales of brands such as TNCC, which focus on providing products with natural ingredients.”

The brand has recently had a revamp with new characters creating further excitement.

Newcomer Goody Good stuff is offering an equally virtuous concept with its eight-strong gummy range, which includes Koala Gummy Bears and Summer Peaches. All sweets are “free from nasties” says managing director Melissa Burton.

Nestlé also has its eye on this fruitful market. “There is an emerging trend within sugar confectionery which sees customers moving away from the more traditional sweets, such as hard toffee and mint sweets, and towards softer fruit jelly sweets,” says Walker. “These fruit jelly sweets offer a fun, playful and engaging choice for sugar confectionery shoppers at the same time as offering a softer texture.”

With Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles and Randoms the number one and two best-sellers respectively within sugar singles, the brand was well placed to make its debut into the family jellies market last in April. Rowntree’s new Very Berry Jellies, Sour Faces and Jelly Aliens all boast a market-leading amount of fruit juice (at least 25%) and no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.

Another popular sweet brand making the transition into jellies is Perfetti Van Melle’s Fruittella. “Our research has shown that mums value the Fruittella brand ahead of other chewy brands and we aim to bring these values to the jellies market,” says Ladi Moradi, trade marketing manager for the impulse channel. “Our Fruittella brand has a strong positioning on the market as a natural product with no artificial colours or flavouring, which is the strength we are capitalising on.”

She states that there is enough flexibility within the market for multiple brands to survive. “Jellies are the most frequently consumed sugar confectionery product in the UK market, so with the great variety of shapes and sizes possible there is plenty of room for several companies to be present there.”

However, Hancock’s Summerley isn’t convinced there is room for so many brands within one area. “Many brands have jumped to take advantage of the growing jellies market,” he notes. “I would predict that many will fall by the wayside as time goes on.”

Judgement call

In a sector bursting with NPD, it can be tempting for brands to try out new formats, but even well established brands can spread themselves too thinly. Last year Starburst’s sales slumped 18% to £21m when the brand over-stretched itself. “The brand has suffered from a proliferation of brand extensions and flavours and this has consequently confused retailers and consumers,” says Wrigley’s Rowntree.

However, it was a lesson well learnt, and Starburst has bounced back by dropping a number of SKUs and focusing solely on core lines: Starburst Fruits, Smoothies and Tongue Tangles. This has helped sales increase to £22m. “New flavours and variants generate interest and trial, but one approach doesn’t fit all and we have recognized that streamlining the Starburst range was the best option,” says Wrigley’s Rowntree.

But just because a supplier has to learn about brand dilution the hard way doesn’t mean that retailers have to suffer, so long as they are quick to react to sales peaks and troughs. “Retailers should look to enjoy NPD activity, and benefit from short- to medium-term boosts in sales,” says Summerley. “While some big launches continue to offer strong sales for a long period of time, others will have a surge in sales for a short while and then settle at a lower level. Retailers should react quickly to benefit from the high sales periods. While new products help to take the market forward, the shoppers themselves will ultimately decide which varieties and brands are of relevance to them.”

For some brands, having numerous SKUs can result in reducing their impact, but for others it seems the more the merrier. “Panda offers the largest selection of liquorice in the UK with 18 products in the range,” says Lisa Gawthorne, managing director at Bravura Foods, which handles sales for Panda Liquorice. “Many would say this is madness, but consumers love the choice.”

The company has just launched a new blueberry variant to meet demand for healthier snacks.

With new products essential to the category, it is imperative that retailers keep their eye on the ball. But only you can know the correct range for your store.

“There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the ratio of stocking new versus existing sugar confectionery in your range,” says Carr. “It’s all about finding the right balance it is important to ensure you are stocking the firm favourites that consumers love, mixed in with some new and exciting sweet products which will offer them something different.”

retailer’s view

“We’ve got three schools in the area so the sweets section is very busy during the school rush. “We have a pick and mix section with sweet prices ranging from 2p to 10p. Not many stores have penny sweets so it’s a novelty. Lots of parents give their kids 50p or £1 and stand by the door and let their kids add up the cost of the sweets. The best-sellers are our 5p and 10p big jelly strawberries and sweet dummies. “We display small packs of Haribo with the penny sweets, as well as Dib Dabs, Refreshers, wine gums and sour gums. Wine gums are a best-seller with children as well as adults. “Where we can get pricemarked packs, we do. We have £1 pricemarked packs of Bassett’s and Haribo Starmix.” Manny Patel, Manny’s, Long Ditton, Surrey

junior choice

Kids’ sugar sweets perform best when merchandised in a separate section adjacent to other confectionery, says Bazooka Candy Brands marketing controller Sarah Sibley. It makes the fixture easier to shop, enhances profitability and drives category performance 12% more than average, she points out. Leaf also believes this to be the case. “Many of our customers have great success by highlighting specific kids’ sugar confectionery,” says Joanne Carr. “Maximise pocket money sales by sectioning off an area or creating a secondary display for low-cost products which kids will buy for themselves. As the section is aimed at children, be aware of the height of the shelves so that they can shop it independently.” However, if space is an issue and kids’ sugar sweets are merchandised with other confectionery then they should be on the bottom shelf, below chocolate and adult sugar sweets, advises Bazooka. Range management is particularly important within kids’ sweets as trends change so often. “It is essential to keep ringing the changes in any selection, offering a mix of old favourites, modern twists and new ideas that often become a craze for a short time,” says Hancocks’ Jonathan Summerley. “Independents have the flexibility to grasp this opportunity with both hands.” Bazooka is shaking up the kids’ market with the launch of its Big Baby Pop Rattlerz and Snap It. The former is a rattle-shaped two-in-one sweet featuring a lollipop and crunching candy, available in strawberry and berry burst flavours. Snap It is a portable candy holder with a ‘save some for later’ plastic case, available in strawberry, blackcurrant and cola flavours. There are plenty of products to liven up your penny sweets section, too, with Chewits launching six new tubs in its Pick’n’Mix Sweetshop range. Within this range are firm favourites such as Foam Mushrooms and Cola Bottles, and new for 2011 are Jumbo Jets, Fruity Flutterbies, Cherry Lips, Crazy Crocs, Giant Strawberries and Rubber Rings. “For convenience retailers who offer this type of product, we would certainly recommend switching in some new products from time to time to keep kids interested and offer them variety,” says Carr. Hancocks also has a strong range of penny sweets available for independents, including its new 5p Strawberry Lances in regular and fizzy varieties. The company has also launched 10p Twists, available in tubs of 100, in blue raspberry and strawberry flavours.

ones to watch…

Goode to go Henry Goode has introduced a pocket-sized bar to its soft eating liquorice portfolio to meet consumer demand for an on-the-go format. The soft eating liquorice category is growing 7% year on year. rrp: 59p tel: 01253 603 613 Classic combo Consumers looking to get a taste of summer may be drawn to Haribo’s Strawbs & Cream. The limited-edition treat combines the brand’s popular Strawbs with a creamy flavour to mirror the classic British dish. rrp: £1 (235g) tel: 01977 600266 Game on Starburst is offering consumers the chance to win one of 50,000 Family Fun Packs in an on-pack promotion. The boxes feature a giant jigsaw, mini table tennis sets and classic games such as car bingo to bring families together. tel: 01752 701107 Summer season Chewits ice cream and cola sticks are back for a limited time only. The flavours have been revived on the back of demand from consumers on the Chewits’ Facebook fan page, which currently has almost 70,000 fans. rrp: 30p tel: 01452 378 500 Roaring trade With sharing bags continuing to perform well within convenience, Tangerine Confectionery has added a Tropical Gums variant to its Lion range of Fruit Pastilles, Sports Mix and Midget Gems. rrp: £1.49, 215g tel: 01253 603 613