Flavour changing, shape shifting, tongue tingling and mind-blowing - the latest NPD from sugar confectionery has truly stepped up a gear. We’re no longer just talking about new flavour variants (although there are plenty of those). We’re looking at interactive sweets that stimulate as you masticate.


That’s how much the UK sugar confectionery market is worth, up 3.6% year on year, according to Mondelez International

Wrigley captured our attention earlier this year with Skittles Confused. The sugar shells gave consumers a pleasant surprise when the colour on the outside no longer corresponded to the flavour on the inside. Not only was the sweet a different flavour to its shell, but some were new flavours. Available in 55g and 175g bags, the new variant made up part of a £5m relaunch, featuring sampling, digital and social media, and a £3m ad campaign.

“Research shows that consumers are looking for more than just taste and texture when choosing confectionery - they want excitement and stimulation, too, which is why new products that cater to this consumer need are vital for driving growth into the sugar confectionery category,” says Wrigley European confections business unit director Matt Austin.

The firm has also caused a stir with Starburst Flavour Morphs, which change flavour while you chew. Available in a 45g single-stick pack and 152g sharing pouch, sweets change from strawberry to strawberry pear cherry to cherry lime and raspberry to raspberry pear. The launch is being supported by a £3m multi-media campaign.

But it isn’t the only brand offering multiple flavours in one sweet. Available in sticks and bags, Fruittella Magics are also tantalising tastebuds with sweets changing from orange to strawberry, and raspberry to lemon as they are chewed. “The product targets kids and teenagers who are looking for surprise, mystery and flavour sensations in their sweets,” says brand manager for Fruittella and Chupa Chups, David Leal. “Kids and teens are always looking for new sensations in confectionery and Fruittella Magics brings a new dimension to their enjoyment.”

Top tips

• Give new products prominent space with simple signage to let your customers know there’s a new product in store

• Where possible, multiface your best-selling products - this helps ensure availability and makes it easier for shoppers to find what they are looking for

• Take advantage of self-merchandising and counter-top ready packaging to help drive impulse sales

• If stocking bagged products, ensure they are properly laid out and securely hung

• Cross-merchandise and use secondary siting

• Creating a kids fixture or area and arranging it by price allows children to understand which products they can afford. Be aware of the height of the shelves and fixture so that children can shop it independently.

Source: Leaf Confectionery

The company is also mixing up flavours with its limited-edition Chupa Chups Kolormania lollipop. Available as part of a Wheel display, the lolly uses innovative ‘swirl technology’ to achieve a pattern on the lollipop’s surface, while interweaving the sweet flavour of strawberry with sour lemon. The lolly will carry a ‘sweet and sour’ instant-win promotion encouraging consumers to interact via a QR code and Facebook to win iPad Minis. There will also be extensive sampling activity via teenage club nights at venues around the UK.

Also competing for the young adults market is Nestlé’s Rowntree’s Randoms. Now a £23.2m brand, Randoms has added £50m to the category and attracted a raft of new shoppers, with 25% of Randoms consumers only buying into the category with the Randoms brand, according to Nestlé. Keen to continue its success story, the firm has unveiled Randoms Rip’ems, eight peelable strings in four fruit flavours. The flexible strings can be tied in a bow, wound into a ball or knotted into a lasso, and Nestlé is encouraging consumers to do just that in order to ‘let your Random side out’. They are also urged to experiment with the apple, blackcurrant, orange and pineapple flavours to create new combinations.

Mighty mints

Mints continue to be a must-stock for all

c-stores. “The mints category remains the second largest segment within the pocket confectionery category, representing a significant sales opportunity for retailers,” says Ferrero customer development director Levi Boorer.

The firm is keeping things fresh with the launch of Tic Tacs spearmint twist, comprising white and mint-green Tic Tac drops of different flavour intensities. “Tic Tac is currently experiencing 12% growth as the fastest growing top 10 brand in pocket confectionery, with a key part of our recent success being the popularity of Strawberry Fields,” says Boorer. “Now we are looking to replicate the success we have seen with fruit in mints.”

Spearmint twist is available in 18g single packs (rrp 55p) and 47g 100 packs (rrp £1.25). The new variant replaces the existing spearmint flavour and will benefit from a £3.6m investment in the wider Tic Tac brand as part of Ferrero’s plans to double the size of its UK business.

Mondelēz International has also been experimenting with mini mints. Halls XS arrived on shelves in February, retailing at 75p. Packs feature a power meter, which indicates the cooling intensity of each flavour. The peppermint variant has a cooling intensity of 5 - the strongest menthol level - while the lemon flavour is a mid-level three.

Says Jon Holden, senior brand manager for Halls and Trebor: “We believe we’ve developed a format that’s ideal for pockets and handbags for a jolt of invigoration on the move, or to share with friends.”

Meanwhile, Perfetti Van Melle is causing a stir with its Shake Your Money Maker Mentos promotion. The competition, which runs until August, gives consumers the chance to win £100,000.

Of course, good ideas are never on their own for long. The string format has also been utilised by Leaf Confectionery for its new Chewits Mini Whips. Available in two fruity flavours - raspberry and lemon - Mini Whips are individually wrapped, making them suitable as an on-the-go treat.

Meanwhile, jelly giant Haribo is repackaging its own string offering, Rainbow Twists, into bags. “The Haribo countline range is a popular pocket-money treat for entry-level consumers,” says managing director Herwig Vennekens. “Making these products available in bagged formats means that consumers are able to continue to buy into the flavours and textures they enjoyed when younger.”

The product, which started life in countline format, is now available in 50p pricemarked bags.

The firm is also adding a little movie magic to the mix with new Haribo Smurfs. The predominantly blue gummies feature Smurfette and Papa Smurf characters and have been launched ahead of The Smurfs 2 movie, which will be in cinemas at the end of July.

Another supplier partnering up with a summer blockbuster is Bazooka Candy Brands. Characters from kids’ movie Despicable Me 2 will adorn packs of Juicy Drop, Mega Mouth, Big Baby, Ring Pops and Push Pops, thanks to a deal with Universal. “Licensing is now playing a more important role in the sugar confectionery category,” says marketing director Sarah Burrow.

The firm is also capitalising on its licensing agreement with Moshi Monsters. Its fruit foam and jelly bagged sweets have been such a hit that the firm is now branching out with a foil Poppet-branded Pyramid Pack (rrp 99p), containing one of six collectables of the Moshi character Poppet, an 11g strawberry and apple flavour sweet, and a sticker sheet.

Licensing has made it possible for a number of soft drinks brands to make their name on the confectionery scene, too. Distributor Rose Marketing is offering a selection of new products, including Vimto candy spray, popping candy sachet Tango Shock Rock and Sunkist Rip ‘n Dip tropical sherbet with a candy surf board.

The hour of sour

Also adding to the fun factor of sugar confectionery is the explosion of sour sweets on the market. “There has been significant growth within the sour market, up 44% year on year, which has provided a key opportunity to launch a new product that taps into this trend,” says Tangerine brand marketing manager Adrian Hipkiss. “As a result, we created a new sherbet-based product for the iconic and retro Wham brand.” Wham Rocket combines sour raspberry sherbet with a foam dipping stick and retails at 45p.

Retailer view

“Sugar confectionery is one of my best-selling categories. I make a 45% margin on it, and up to 50% on pick ‘n’ mix. We have a school nearby and the kids are in fairly often. They love sour sweets such as Brain Lickers and sour mouth sprays.

“Our best-sellers are the Haribo Starmix and Tangfastics share bags, and the new Smurfs packs are selling really well. All sugar bags with a £1 pricemark do well. I have just stocked a load of £1 sugar lines from One Pounders, including Magic Mints, Strawberry and Lemon Bon Bons, and Vanilla Fudge. They absolutely smashed it - I sold a case of each variety in two weeks!”

Sandeep Bains, Simply Fresh, Faversham, Kent

Maynards Sour Patch Kids continues to go from strength to strength. The quirky candy characters launched last summer were the number one NPD in sugar bags when they launched last year, and are now worth more than £2m. New for 2013 is brand extension Maynards Sour Patch Kids Soda Popz, which aims to drive growth within the Sour and Fizzy Jellies category, currently worth a huge £45.7m.

Leaf Confectionery has also seen great success with its sour offering. “Chewits Xtreme flavours satisfy those consumers who want a more challenging taste,” says commercial director Stuart Lane. “By appealing to a slightly older consumer, Chewits Xtreme also adds value to the category by keeping older children coming back to the fixture and stretching the appeal of sugar confectionery. Our Xtreme products attract an older audience (11-14 year olds) in comparison with our Chewits stick packs that are favoured by a younger demographic (five- to 10-year-olds). This would suggest that the sugar confectionery sector is evolving for an older audience while still maintaining interest from a core younger audience.”

Burrow claims that products offering extreme flavours have a forbidden factor that makes them especially appealing to older kids. “Our Juicy Drop Pops are for 10- to 12-year-old boys and girls with attitude. Mums think these are evil, but they are the sweets that kids buy when mum isn’t looking!”

Furthermore, suppliers are developing different levels of sour for different target audiences. “It’s a bit like curry: the machismo of a vindaloo, versus a pain-free korma,” notes Carl Richardson of Sweet Connexions, which looks after marketing for Rose. “Rose has gained experience in dealing with a wide set of consumers, having produced the incredibly sour Hazard Zone range of novelty candy, through to the Tingly Zingly range of products aimed at a slightly younger market.”

Natural progression

It may be a niche category, but ‘free from’ confectionery is worth considering if you can afford the space. “‘Free-from’ ranges have seen a major uplift in the mass market over the past year, as consumers become increasingly conscious of the journey from the field to the plate,” says Goody Good Stuff managing director Melissa Burton. “‘Free from’ products are commonly perceived as the healthier option as, more often than not, they contain no additives, artificial flavours, colours or processed materials.”

Kobi’s Party Mix Multi Bag is the firm’s latest launch. Containing 32 x 25g multi-product bags, including new variants Sour Cheery Cherries and Sour Koala Gummy Bears, the range is suited to snacks, lunchboxes and eating on the go.

Freedom Confectionery agrees that consumers are becoming more aware of what is going into their foods, particularly following the horsemeat scandal. The firm is targeting the ‘free from’ market with Freedom Mallows, which are suitable for vegetarian, halal and kosher diets, as well as being free from gluten. “Almost half the UK population claims to suffer from a food allergy, with the most common allergies being gluten, wheat and dairy products,” says food scientist and company head Neville Finlay. “While savoury foods and meals target non-meat eaters, this is still a relatively untapped market for confectionery, so there is plenty room for growth as demand increases.”

Freedom Mallows are light vanilla flavour marshmallows containing natural flavours. They are available in 75g sharing bags, and retail between £1.99 and £2.49. “Packs are partially clear so consumers can see the product, which we think is key for ambient goods and a relatively unknown entity like a vegetarian marshmallow,” says Finlay.

Hancocks agrees that there is room for two types of sour sweet. “There continues to be great interest in and demand for sour sweets, but the product range is starting to evolve into two distinct groups: those that are ‘extreme’ sour such as Toxic Waste and those that are ‘safe’ sour, perhaps combined with fizzy,” says purchasing director Jonathan Summerley. “The two have slightly different audiences and retailers should make sure that they understand what extreme of sour their customers are looking for.”

Pricing it right

Beyond the sheer entertainment offered by the sugar confectionery market, another key draw to the category is its affordability. Bonds Confectionery conducted a survey of more than 2,000 people across the UK and found that those on a tight budget were more likely to give up a bottle of wine and a magazine rather than a bag of sweets. “Pricemarked packs (PMPs), particularly bags, have seen an increase in sales due to financial constraints of the customer and confusing offers and price points introduced by some retailers,” says Bonds Confectionery managing director Philip Courtenay-Luck. “Bonds’ 39p (three for £1) range is one of the UK’s largest selling small bags, and the £1 pricemarked Wisepenny bag range gives consumers value and eliminates the confusing price points and temporary offers often experienced in stores.”

Leaf Confectionery UK concurs. “PMPs are critical in achieving positive price perceptions, with 94% of consumers saying they would buy a PMP confectionery multipack if available from a c-store, and 48% believing PMPs would encourage them to switch from a preferred brand to a different brand,” says commercial director Chewits, Stuart Lane. “Our PMPs include a variety of flavours in full-size stick packs, as well as a £1 multipack.”

Spaced out

Ensuring that sugar confectionery is given enough space within the fixture is crucial. But plenty of retailers are giving too much room to chocolate confectionery, according to Bazooka Candy Brands.

“Because of the price increase in chocolate bars, retailers are telling us that kids are turning to sugar confectionery, which is cheaper,” says marketing director Sarah Burrow. “As chocolate reps visit stores regularly, they are maintaining their positioning in-store, but not justifying it with sales. There is definitely more potential for sugar confectionery to have more space. For kids confectionery, we recommend 40% chocolate, 30% mints and gums, and 30% kids’ sugar, but anecdotally, we’re seeing kids sugar at just 20% or less, and chocolate with 60% space.”

Fair share of space is also an issue within adult-focused confectionery, claims Nestlé Confectionery. “Our most recent research has identified a lucrative opportunity for fruit singles confectionery. By siting fruit sugar singles in a prominent position on the fixture (at eye level) sales value could increase by up to 16%, while the rate of sale of these products could increase by up to 29%,” says trade communications manager Graham Walker. “What is even more important is the fact that retailers make more profit from sugar products compared with chocolate.”

Hancocks notes that round pound packs are also big business when it comes to bagged sweets. “This is an area of the market that is seeing strong growth, especially at the £1 price point. The overall perception is that a larger £1 bag of a particular sweet is better value than a countline or stick pack format,” says Summerley.

“The result is that branded sugar countlines about the 50-60p mark are seeing sales slow, while larger bags selling at £1 are experiencing an acceleration in sales. This £1 format can offer gradual treats throughout the day and be shared with family and friends. It is a format that shoppers have come to associate with best value.”

The firm has witnessed strong sales on the Haribo range of bagged sweets, in addition to its own share bag range of bagged favourites. “Recently launched Swizzels Squashies is another example of a successful range, especially now that it has adjusted itself to suit the £1 market,” adds Summerley.

Storck also boasts a successful £1 range. “PMPs represent good added value to consumers and are particularly important in the impulse environment, where research suggests a quarter of customers would use convenience stores if they are offered more PMPs ,” says Storck UK sales director Andy Mutton.

Bazooka Candy Brands launched pricemarked packs in January. “Pocket money is the lowest it has been in six years (under £6 a week),” says Burrow. “Retailers told us that they didn’t want to stock anything over £1, so we created pricemarked packs at lower prices. Mega Mouth has gone from £1.19 to 89p and sales are up four-fold at one wholesaler. With Moshi Monsters we’re now doing a 160g promotional pack for £1, and we’ve launched a three multipack for £1, so we can remain competitive.”

Summer sellers

Seasonal launches undoubtedly add a sense of excitement to sugar confectionery, claims Hancocks. The group recently unveiled its summer range to customers, which includes a jellybean-filled ice lolly mould (rrp 89p) where consumers can eat the jelly beans before using the mould.

Also giving a nod to summer is Haribo, which is adding a limited-edition watermelon slice to its Tangfastics range, as well as a Blue’bear’ries variant to its Starmix bags. With a combined brand value of more than £64m in 2012, these limited editions offer an incremental growth opportunity for retailers, claims the firm.

Ferrero is ready for summer with Tic Tac Festival. “Festival builds on Ferrero’s track record of successful fruit-flavoured NPD and is designed to drive incremental growth,” says Boorer. “Fruit is now the largest segment of the pocket confectionery category, with sales particularly high among 16- to 24-year-olds.” Festival packs comprise lime, orange, cherry and passion fruit flavours. The Tic Tac brand is currently experiencing 9% growth.

Swizzels Matlow has also tuned in to the demand for pocket money pricing. Previously priced at 13p, the firm has launched a ‘Flashback to 10p’ collection, comprising: Drumstick chew bars and lollies Refreshers chew bars Fun Gums Rainbow Drops Wine Gummies Fizzy Wine Gummies and Mega Rainbow Dust. All products in the range have had a packaging revamp with bold designs and price flashes. “Our new Flashback to 10p collection offers a host of low-cost products, designed to drive sales in recessionary times,” says brand manager Claire Lee. “The 10p price point also makes it easy for children to calculate how much they’re spending.”

Retro a go-go

Nostalgic treats are also proving a hit at Tangerine Confectionery. “Retro sweets such as the well-known Sherbet Fountain, Wham bar, Sherbet Dip Dab, Fruit Salad and Black Jack continue to sell well as they evoke a sense of nostalgia among older sweet eaters, as well as providing parents with the reassurance of a tried and trusted product when choosing for their children,” says the company’s Hipkiss. “The trend inspired us to revisit well-loved brands to see where they could be developed and brought back to the marketplace. We redefined these traditional recipes to bring them up-to-date for the modern palate.”

Grandpas’ favourite, Werther’s Original, is taking full advantage of the retro wave. “Werther’s Original is the number one traditional sugar brand within convenience and has experienced 2.2% growth,” says Storck’s Mutton. “This is primarily being driven by the strong range and continued heavyweight TV support. The current advert focuses on the way Werther’s selection of confections make us feel special and comforted by evoking memories of our childhood. We also integrate our advert with a Werther’s Original ‘pop up’ caramel shop which visits shopping centres across the UK.”

The firm has spent £4m on its 2013 campaign, which highlights the roll and bag variants.

Bonds Confectionery is also capitalising on consumers’ love of retro sweets. “As the demand for sugar confectionery has continued to grow during the recession we’ve also seen an increase in demand for more traditional lines and Bonds Confectionery’s relaunched Sweet Shop traditional bagged range has seen a growth of 23% year on year,” says Courtenay-Luck.

Retro lines, such as Dip Dabs and other sherbet products, have seen a resurgence, he notes. “In the second half of 2012 we introduced the Retro Classics bag, which features favourites such as Love Hearts, Parma Violets and Dennis & Gnasher chew bars, as we noticed there was a market for a product which enabled consumers to re-live their childhood with nostalgic products.”

He states that it is vital for retailers to include a selection of traditional sweets as well as NPD within their offering, if they are to remain competitive. “In many cases we see that preference is given to new releases rather than more traditional sweets, and for convenience stores to attract custom from supermarkets who hold 69% of the confectionery buyers market it is important to hold a variety of lines.”

As a rule of thumb, Hancocks advises that at least 30% of your range should comprise new and seasonal products. “There is a solid principle to stocking a range of sugar confectionery, whatever your target audience is,” says Summerley. “Establish a core range of products that should always be available. This could be anything up to 70% of your range. Beyond this, get proactive with new products and seasonality, so that you inject some fresh life into your range on a continual basis. New products give you something to talk about and are often accompanied by marketing activities and POS.”

He states that retailers must also take into account the individual needs of their store.

“Understanding who your local and prospective customers are can become a huge advantage. For example, within your catchment are there schools and do the children come past your store during the day? Perhaps you are close to where a large number of older people live, or perhaps there is a bus stop outside your shop. These sorts of factors come into play when fully understanding your local shopper profile and each factor determines a number of specific requirements when it comes to sugar confectionery.”

By tailoring your stock to the needs of your customers and spicing things up a little with a selection of innovative NPD, you can ensure your sales will be as sweet as they come.

Ones to watch

Movie makers

Bazooka’s Push Pops, Ring Pops, Big Baby Pops, Mega Mouth and Juicy Drop Pops are receiving a movie makeover to celebrate the launch of children’s film Despicable Me 2. The first film grossed $530m and the sequel, which hits screens on June 28, is expected to be another blockbuster.

tel: 020 8210 1508

Sour power

The Maynards Sour Patch kids are up to their tongue- tingling tricks again with new Soda Popz. Based on popular fizzy drinks, flavours include cola, orangeade, cherryade, tropical and apple fizz flavours. The brand will be supported by a £2.6m media investment.

rrp: 160g £1.52 125g £1

tel: 08702 400 861

Five alive

Wrigley has launched an outdoor creative for 5 gum which targets the brand’s core audience of 14- to 25-year olds. The London-centred campaign will highlight the gum’s new seven-stick pack format, as well as a new watermelon flavour, which launched earlier this year.

tel: 01752 752 094

In the pink

Smint is going pink in support of Breast Cancer Care. Perfetti Van Melle is introducing Smint Strawberry and donating 5p from every pack sold to the cause, culminating in Breast Cancer Awareness Week in October. Sampling and digital marketing will also support the brand.

tel: 01753 442 100

Lovely bubbly

Leaf is drawing young consumers to gum with Chewie Gum. The hard bubble gum targets 8- to 11-year-olds and comes in strawberry & banana, tropical and lemon flavours. The company says the gum sector is lacking investment, yet is up 3.1% year on year.

rrp: 39p

tel: 01452 378 500