Gums and jellies continue to be sought after as softer eats and nostalgic trends drive growth in sugar confectionery. Sarah Britton reports
If there’s one thing guaranteed to sweeten the bitter taste of a double-dip recession, it’s sugared treats. As the economic gloom deepens, the nation is collectively reaching for some sweet treats to help soothe the pain.
“As consumers rein in their wider spending on big-ticket items and non-essential purchases, the intrinsic value of smaller treats increases,” says Tangerine Confectionery marketing director Alison Brand. “While there is little sign of coming out of recession, sweets should continue to be resilient during this period of austerity.”
Within the UK convenience channel, total sugar confectionery is worth £491m, growing at 2.4% year on year, claims Kraft. Kids’ sugar confectionery is worth £202.6m in convenience, growing at 4.3% year on year, says the firm. Meanwhile, adult sugar confectionery is worth £288.7m, and growing 1.1% year on year. Sugar bags contribute considerable value to the overall category at £286m, growing at 1% year on year.
With the recession tightening its grip on consumer spending, consumers are continuing to entertain indoors. “The sugar confectionery market for adults remains extremely robust and continues to grow,” says Hancocks Cash & Carry purchasing director Jonathan Summerley. “Fuelled by increased socialising at home, nostalgia and the desire for an affordable treat, the state of the economy ironically helps to drive the market forward.” Sharing bags are a key growth driver in sugar confectionery and Hancocks has seen year-on-year sales rise by 65%.
“There’s been a rise in sharing occasions recently as groups of families and friends stay in and enjoy treats together,” says Bazooka Candy Brands marketing controller Sarah Sibley. “Brands are directly responding to this by introducing products to meet the needs of consumers - bigger bags of sweets are becoming more and more popular in the category as they appeal to the ‘Saturday night in’ crowd. The need for indulgence has also been heightened as consumers look to treat themselves in the tough economic climate.”
Leaf Confectionery warns retailers not to become blinkered into thinking that chocolate is the only category to shine in the bagged arena. “The sharing bags and pouches from chocolate manufacturers are always going to be popular, but don’t limit your customers’ choice to chocolate - give them a few other options, too,” says trade marketing manager Joanne Carr. “Remember that seasonality impacts consumer taste and sugar sales, so make sure your range reflects that.”
“With sugar confectionery, people are buying into pricemarked packs, especially £1 variants. We’re also seeing a trend towards people buying sharing products - Haribo is very popular.
“People love the idea of retro sweets, so we’re buying a cart that we’ll fill with retro sweets to attend summer events. We know it will work because it ticks all the boxes. We’ll do penny sweets and bags for 50p. I’ve already been to Costco and found traditional jars of jelly beans and bon bons - the locals will love it.
“One of the key areas that retailers need to focus on with sugar confectionery is keeping it up to date and reacting to change. It’s naïve to think you can just keep the same range all year round.”
Rav Garcha, Nisa Local, West Midlands
The Big Night In occasion brings with it numerous opportunities to increase sales of sugar confectionery. “Sharing bags such as new Starburst and Skittles ‘Tear and Share’ Pouches are perfect for the Big Night In occasion, providing consumers with an easier way to share their favourite products,” says Wrigley sales director Duncan McCulloch. “Retailers should ensure they are tapping into the rapid growth of the Big Night In occasion, which remains a huge opportunity.”
The popularity of sharing bags, combined with a surge in demand for softer eating sweets, has seen a wave of NPD in this area for 2012. “The market is seeing growth in softer eating treats, such as gums and jellies, as a more interesting alternative to hard boiled sweets and toffee, which are all in decline, and a better value offering than chocolate,” states Haribo managing director Herwig Vennekens. “The latest data shows value growth of 2% for gums and jellies.” The firm has introduced a limited-edition Starmix pack for the summer, which features a union flag pack design, developed to help consumers celebrate patriotic occasions in 2012. Limited-edition Starmix is available in 235g £1 pricemarked packs and 160g unmarked packs.
Swizzels Matlow is also looking to capitalise on the demand for softer eats. “This month we are launching Squashies, a new range of gums with the flavours of Love Hearts, Drumstick Lollies, Double Lollies and New Refreshers. This is our first foray into developing gum versions of our household brands. Research has shown consumers love the concept and the products.”
Top treat tips
Tangerine Confectionery advises on how best to merchandise your sugar confectionery:
1. Ranges need to be refreshed regularly so that consumer interest is retained. Focusing on traditional and novelty sweets is a worthwhile endeavour when coupled with the current trends in nostalgia and value-conscious kids
2. Products are best displayed when grouped by product type and price points
3. It is important to ensure that confectionery is displayed within a child’s eye-view, so not too high on shelf
4. Multi-buy promotions such as ‘four for £1’ are a strong preference for the impulse confectionery shopper
Following on from the success of its singles bags, Bazooka Candy Brands has released a 120g share size bag of its new Moshi Monsters fruity Yummy Gummies range. The product is available in a permanent £1 pricemarked pack designed to appeal to the impulse channel.
Meanwhile, Kraft’s The Natural Confectionery Company (TNCC) has launched a 180g sharing bag format of Guzzle Puzzle. “Guzzle Puzzle offers consumers a unique and fun experience - by combining two different shaped fruit and spice flavoured jelly sweets together like puzzle pieces, an additional flavour is experienced,” says Kraft communications manager Susan Nash. “Following consumer demand, Guzzle Puzzle will now be available in a 180g sharing bag, with a new apple flavour, enabling consumers to create two extra flavours: lemonade and blackcurrant.”
With many consumers opting to have a cosy night in rather than going out, retailers are advised to create dedicated areas in-store. “We recommend merchandising sharing bags, such as TNCC Guzzle Puzzle on the bag stand with other sharing formats, as well as drinks, snacks and entertainment to emphasise their relevance to the Big Night In occasion,” says Nash.
Tangerine’s Brand is equally supportive of secondary siting. “Siting snacking items alongside the beers, wines and spirits aisles creates in-store theatre to tap into the sharing trend. Impactful, well-signposted displays that incorporate confectionery, savoury and drinks categories will maximise sales and encourage purchase of multiple sharing products from different categories,” she says. “Products should be grouped together to make it easier for the consumer to shop and pick up everything in one go.”
Perfetti Van Melle backs this up. “Secondary sitings are always important as there is a strong element of ‘I see it and I want it’ in sugar confectionery,” says marketing director Mark Stangroom. “Cross-category opportunities exist all over the store - hot spots are fridge areas in the summers where a clipstrip or a parasite unit of bags of sweets can result in additional sales for consumers who come in for soft drinks. Also, if a store sells coffee to go then a display of mints such as Smint and Mentos located in this area can result in additional sales. Retailers can consider what categories go together and offer linked deals to consumers to further encourage purchase.”
A nod to nostalgia
Another side effect of the current economic situation is that consumers are seeking comfort in familiarity. “Enjoying the simple fun of finding old favourites, often introducing them to younger family members, means shoppers continue to look backwards as well as forwards in the confectionery market,” says Hancocks’ Summerley.
Adds Carr: “Nostalgia remains an important emotional driver of the confectionery purchase, with older consumers often picking up a confectionery treat that they remember from their own childhood, either for themselves or their children or grandchildren.”
Kraft concurs that retro brands are in big demand. “One of the key trends that we are noticing is the return to tried and tested brands,” says Nash.” This is of particular importance to established brands such as Bassett’s and Maynards, which have been around for more than 100 years, and offer a range of familiar products for all age groups.” While Maynards sales remain steady, Bassett’s have increased 9% year on year.
Tangerine’s Barratt brand has also seen a sales boost due to the retro revival. “In times of economic strife consumers want to buy a brand they trust, so as the home of some of Britain’s favourite retro sweets we’ve undoubtedly benefited from the ongoing resurgence of the traditional sweet shop and the nation’s unabated love for all things nostalgic.”
The firm is capitalising on this further still with the launch of a 180g British Mix bag (rrp £1.35), featuring gums shaped like Big Ben and red telephone boxes.
Not wanting to miss a trick, nostalgic sweet brand Werther’s Original has invested in a £4m advertising campaign for 2012. The ad, which first aired in March, focuses on an adult reminiscing the childhood joy of a sweet shop, feeding consumers’ desires for days gone by.
Swizzels Matlow is also benefiting from the trend. “We are seeing strong growth of bulk bags of sweets due to the popularity of pick ‘n’ mix and a resurgence in the popularity of retro brands,” says marketing manager Sarah-Louise Heslop.
A perfect fit with the retro vibe, the pick ‘n’ mix sub-category is booming, says Summerley. “The pick and mix success story appears to be limitless. We place a high priority on developing new pick and mix sweets. The flexibility of the category means that it can be made to suit all store formats.”
Recent pick ‘n’ mix launches at Hancocks include Watermelon Bon Bons, Mega Sour Balls, and Brit Bears.
Alongside nostalgia, value for money is a major driver within sugar confectionery. Price-based promotions are continuing to support growth within the market, claims Haribo. “Pricemarked packs have performed particularly well within independent retailers, and we believe that this is because they are a simple mechanic to understand,” states Vennekens. “Through pricemarked packs consumers can clearly see the on-shelf price this helps them to better manage their budgets while treating themselves in a fun and affordable way. For retailers, pricemarked packs need no point of sale to reinforce or communicate price.”
To support this notion, Haribo has unveiled a new range of 80g bags pricemarked at 50p. Products include Rhubarb & Custard Splats, Little Jelly Men, Eggstras, Giant Strawbs and Yellow Bellies.
Another big fan of price flashes is Wrigley, which has just launched a range of pricemarked packs of its most popular brands, including Starburst and Skittles. “With recent HIM research revealing that 44% of consumers are more likely to buy a product with a price clearly displayed, it’s no secret that consumers want to ensure they’re getting value for money,” says Wrigley’s McCulloch.
Storck has also taken price flashes onboard with Werther’s Original core sugar range available in pricemarked packs, exclusive to the independent trade.
Value packs are becoming increasingly more important, concurs Swizzels Matlow. The firm is launching a range of value-added packs to appeal to bargain hunters, with products including Rainbow Drops, Wines Gummies and New Refreshers.
Tangerine agrees that sugar confectionery must be seen to be giving good value for money. “We’ve seen frequent multi-buy, extra-free and round-pound pricing that support impulse purchase, or in the case of new products, encourage trial - the introduction of Lion £1 price packs at the end of 2011 have benefited from this,” says Brand.
Consumers are still looking for quality and value and so promotional activity is still strong in the category, adds Perfetti Van Melle. “In addition to this, there has been an increase in the number of on-pack promotions over the past year, and this has enticed consumers to take part and buy into brands. Smint has recently run a ‘text and win an ipad every day of the week for three months’ activity and Mentos is currently running an on-pack promotion on its multipacks where one of 500 holidays can be instantly won. Both competitions have so far received far more entries than would be the industry norm, which suggests that consumers are really looking for this type of activity at the moment.”
It seems that when money is tight, the escapism offered by such promotions is an important driver. Wrigley’s Skittles has been using on-pack promos to attract consumers, offering them the chance to win ‘nearly £50’ from a £50,000 prize pot by finding a gold Skittle, backed by TV ads.
While kids’ singles and kids multipacks are both flat, the growth that’s been experienced in the children’s sugar confectionery market can be attributed to the success of bags, says Bazooka. And the healthier their perception, the better when it comes to younger children.
“For young children, their choice of sweets is very much influenced by parents who might favour those with no added flavours or colours,” says Summerley. “A claim about natural fruit juices might also sway purchases for parents and so we have seen the development of many more products offering a healthier status where sugar confectionery is concerned.”
“The trend for using only natural colours and flavours has come more to the fore this year,” adds Tangerine’s Brand. “Over the next couple of years we are aiming to use only natural colours and flavours across all of our products.”
Nash agrees that the nutritional profiles of sweets are of key importance. “No artificial colours and flavours in brands such as TNCC continue to be important to mums, who act as the gatekeepers for children’s sweets.”
Moshi Monsters gummy sweets have been very successful in recent months, notes Hancocks. “Assuring mums with ‘No added flavours, no added colours’ status and 25% real fruit juice, younger children can embrace the popular Moshi Monsters brand that has become a fast growing online trend and a brand that is proving to work well offline, too,” says Summerley. Since launching Moshi Monsters at the beginning of the year, the product has already returned a retail sales value of £500,000, says Sibley.
While parents are firmly focused on the nutritional profile of sweets for their little ones, older children have the opportunity to choose their own treats. “Sweets that offer some sort of play value generally perform extremely well with children,” says Summerley.
Products such as Chupa Chups Melody Pops, which have a ‘trombone stick’ enabling kids to play a tune on them once the lolly is finished, are popular in the independent channel, notes Perfetti Van Melle.
Bazooka’s new Ring Pop Twisters (rrp 39p) also offer users added entertainment, providing both an edible treat and a spinning toy. The limited-edition treat comes in nine different twister designs.
One trend that penetrates all ages of children is sour flavours. “Kids enjoy the challenge and extreme fun that sour products provide,” says Sibley. “Subtle sour flavours are also being introduced to appeal to younger children who are keen to be involved in the action and show their adventurous sides, especially within gummies and chews, where the gatekeeper is more likely to be the purchaser.”
Meanwhile, stronger sour flavours are still a big hit with older kids. “The two Chewits Xtreme flavours satisfy those consumers, generally a bit older than the core Chewits consumers, who want a more challenging taste,” says Carr. “Chewits Xtreme adds value to the category by keeping older children coming back to the fixture and stretching the appeal of sugar confectionery.”
And it’s not just sours that appeal to kids. Flavours that offer a twist from the norm can add interest to a fixture, too. The Chupa Chups Wheel contains a selection of flavoured lollipops. New for 2012 is a strawberry and banana ‘Flavour of the Year’ (rrp 20p).
Meanwhile, Fruittella is hoping that its new cola/lemon flavoured stick (rrp 42p) will be the talk of the playground.
Bazooka is also going for a fun flavour with its new tutti frutti Big Baby Pop. The bottle-shaped candy features a tutti frutti lollipop and dipping candy and follows on from the success of the limited-edition candyfloss variant.
By catering to the key consumer trends of softer eats, share bags, nostalgia and value, while ensuring a regular rotation of new products, and providing a stimulating kids’ section, retailers can really bring out the best of sugar confectionery. With so much activity, it’s a tricky category to keep track of, but stay on top of it and the rewards are sure to be sweet.
Make a mint
Mints are up 5.5% year on year and showing good growth, according to Perfetti Van Melle. “This is interesting considering that there has not been significant npd in this area and so consumers are either returning to this segment or increasing their consumption,” says marketing director Mark Stangroom. “Mentos Mints are up 24.5% year on year in convenience. The market for chewy mints as a whole is still growing so Mentos is not cannibalising other brands and therefore there is certainly a desire among consumers for this type of product.” The firm claims that Smint is also performing well, up 10.3%, but that this can be attributed to a recent on-pack competition.
“The market for mints is driven by price and promotions at the moment,” says Hancocks’ Jonathan Summerley. “I am not sure that there is such a thing as a loyal mint customer right now when promotions are so strong. Much of the mint market surrounds the desire for fresh-smelling breath and these shoppers will quite simply buy into the best value option.”
The mints category has had a tough time, but it remains the second largest segment within the pocket confectionery category, representing a significant sales opportunity for retailers, states Ferrero. This year the company is investing in additional retailer support to help boost sales of mints and pocket confectionery. “Impulse purchases are crucial for mints among the main reasons people buy them is for travel, to eat on the go and for mouth freshening,” says Levi Boorer, customer development director. “If a display is cluttered, or there is no secondary siting near the till point, then sales are lost. We have been working with our customers to help simplify the main pocket confectionery display, and through supplying branded counter display units, which have seen sales increase by up to 161%.”
Kids’ confectionery is big business, but when it comes to displaying it, retailers must take note of their customers’ needs. Here are three groups to be aware of:
Children spending pocket money: these will invariably be impulse purchases with the focus on either extreme value or a higher value fun and interactive experience, says Bazooka’s Sarah Sibley. Shelf height must also be taken into consideration when designing an area for children to shop, and low price points will be key if the products are to appeal to pocket-money budgets.
Mum shopping with children: this purchase occasion involves the parent acting as the gatekeeper and overseeing a confectionery purchase for their child, claims Sibley. To meet this need, your fixture must feature permissive products, such as those free of artificial colours and flavours, and those containing fruit juice.
Grandparents: this demographic is more inclined to purchase sweets than any other treat item, states Sibley. These purchases are often habitual, involving purchasing the same product/brands week in, week out. Grandparents are far more likely to spoil their grandchildren, showering them with treats when they see them. Often they’re more daring and extravagant with the products they’d be willing to purchase, in order to be seen as the cool and fun guardians.
A chewsy lot
Fruit-flavoured gum has been something of a rollercoaster category in recent years. Trident exploded onto the scene in 2007 and the market boomed, but a saturation of flavours over the following years soon saw sales tail off. “There has been much confusion in the gum market, especially with brands 5 and Trident,” says Hancocks’ purchasing director Jonathan Summerley. “This confusion is starting to ease now, with Trident all but gone and the 5 offering a little bit clearer.” He praises Wrigley for maintaining its hold over the category, and is confident that the recently launched Wrigley Extra Strawberry variant will perform well.
Fruit-flavoured chewing gum as a category is showing mixed fortunes, agrees Perfetti Van Melle. “As Mentos continues to grow its business, so Trident continues its decline in fruit chewing gum, which masks the revival in this area. Wrigley’s Extra strawberry will provide a further boost to this market.”
Last year Mentos launched its innovative 3 Layer gum, which releases three flavours one after the other. The original strawberry, apple and raspberry flavour was followed by blackberry, kiwi and strawberry, and the brand is set to receive extensive support in 2012.
The brand is also looking to liven up the tired gum bottles market with a range of ‘michelin’ bottles. “Among the variants available is Fruit Skweez, which contains 99% compressed fruit powder filling,” says brand manager Aimee Reason. “With consumers looking for new sensations in confectionery, these bottles should be a real hit.”
Perfetti Van Melle has just launched UP2U gum under its Mentos brand. The product offers two different flavours of gum in one pack.
That’s how much sugar confectionery is worth to the convenience channel, according to Kraft
Walker’s Nonsuch has introduced a limited-edition Duo Hammer Pack, to capitalise on consumer demand for British-themed products to celebrate the London Olympics. Adorned with union flag bunting in traditional red, white and blue, each pack contains two bars: original creamy and Brazil nut toffee.
tel: 01782 321525
Step back in time
Tangerine Confectionery is hoping to meet consumers’ yearning for the sweets of yesteryear with a new product that combines an old-fashioned sweet format with a trendy brand. The confectioner has linked up with Vimto to create Bon Bon sweets. They are a softer eat than traditional versions and contain real fruit juice.
rrp: 165g bag, £1 pricemark
tel: 01253 603 613
Bags of fun
The Fruittella Juicy Chews bag from Perfetti Van Melle (rrp £1.49) contains a mix of strawberry, orange and lemon twist-wrapped chewy sweets. And for more variety, Chupa Chups has a new 20-count bag of mini lollipops, which are expected to appeal to parents looking for portion-controlled treats. The ‘Best Of’ bag contains a variety of flavours.
tel: 01753 442 100
Burst of activity
Wrigley is celebrating the relaunch of Starburst with a £2m TV campaign, supported by on-pack activity. The product’s new ‘unwrap your playful side’ strapline is reinforced through flashes on the sweet wrappers, which feature fun challenges to drive repeat purchase. Revamped packs feature a more vibrant design to ensure standout.
tel: 01752 752 094
Novel lollies are big business at Hancocks Cash & Carry. “Shoppers love to find a familiar format of confectionery that has benefited from a novel twist,” says purchasing director Jonathan Summerley. The range features Candy Pirate Pops (rrp 77p) Garden Critter Pops (rrp 39p) and Jungle Mallow Lollies (rrp £1).
tel: 01509 216 644