Consumers may have put plans for a new car or an exotic holiday on hold, but they still need a little something to cheer them up. And that ‘little something’ often includes sweets. Kids are still spending pocket money on sweets and adults are treating themselves and their offspring with an injection of sugar from time to time.

Although popular with all age groups, sugar confectionery’s biggest following is from children. Hancocks senior buyer Jonathan Summerley says outlets close to schools or colleges are in a good position, but they still need to work at it. “There’s no doubt that a good range of children’s products will sell well, but you should still keep looking to change at least 20% of your range on a regular basis to keep your customers interested. Children love something that’s a bit different.”

He says there continues to be a trend towards softer-eating sugar confectionery. “We’ve recently launched a weighout line called Fruit Sticks and it’s experiencing tremendous sales. Other sectors such as liquorice, fizzy, sour and jellies are also seeing good growth.

“Children’s novelty products always perform well and there is no shortage of new varieties coming onto the market. Skulls & Bones and Sour Tongues are recent entrants which are selling well.”

Perfetti Van Melle marketing director Mark Stangroom says ‘soft and chewy’ is a big trend. “Fruittella sales are reaching record levels and showing no signs of slowing, which indicates that consumers are very interested in this category.”

Rowntree’s latest offering, Randoms, covers all bases with four different textures, six flavours and 70 shapes.

According to Helen Sears, group marketing manager at Tangerine Confectionery, c-stores need to ensure they offer customers a wide choice. “That means rather than just stocking standards such as wine gums and liquorice allsorts, they should consider more unusual products such as toasted teacakes and coconut mushrooms. Consumers are always interested in trying new products, but they also feel a great deal of nostalgia for classic confectionery and c-stores need to reflect this in their stock.”

There’s also the health trend to consider. Wrigley’s Extra is the number-one sugar confectionery brand, despite the fact it doesn’t actually contain any sugar. But while sugar-free may be big news in gum and mints it hasn’t yet caught on in a huge way across the entire sugar confectionery market.

In fruit sweets, the move to go healthier has been through replacing artificial colours and flavours with natural ones.

Tangerine’s Sears says: “All the feedback we are getting from customers is that they are increasingly interested in natural colours and flavours. We have been moving the most of our products to natural colours and flavours. We have also adopted a policy of no added salt and many of our products are Halal approved.”

Cadbury’s answer to the health issue was the launch of The Natural Confectionery Company (TNCC). Cadbury trade communications manager Kate Harding says TNCC has added £4m to the sugar confectionery category. It’s a good start, but still not a major force when you compare it to Cadbury’s Maynards brand or Nestlé’s Rowntree range.

Cathy Dalton, trade marketing manager for Leaf brands at Bendicks Mayfair, comments: “At the moment there is no indication of major shifts in consumer behaviour. Research undertaken by Chewits indicates that parents understand the need to control the amount of sugar and fat that they and their kids consume. But they also recognise it’s all about moderation.

“Confectionery is all about a special treat and they are open to products that may have reduced sugar or fat, but they must taste good - kids, particularly, aren’t willing to compromise

on taste.”

Within chocolate, there are a few brands that account for massive amount of sales, but with sugar the picture is much more fragmented. Hancocks’ Summerley thinks this means there is plenty of opportunity for c-store retailers to profit from own label products and lesser-known branded items. Hancocks offers a wide range of these type of products and last year Spar launched the Sweet Things range, which includes favourites such as Fried Eggs, Cola Bottles and Strawberry Laces. All 12 products are on a permanent multibuy promotion of ‘3 for £1’.

Sugar lines sell all year round, but there are times when they really come into their own. Perfetti Van Melle’s Stangroom says: “The summer months are traditionally oriented towards sugar confectionery, especially when the weather is good. Even if retailers have refrigerated units for chocolate, consumers often fancy something fruity. And whereas Easter is more of a chocolate occasion, Halloween is more sugar-oriented. In fact, Halloween is the biggest-selling period for lollipops in the whole year.”

A new product that looks set to come into its own at Halloween is Chupa Chups Magics. The fizzy powder-filled lollipops come in three flavours: cola & lime, mango & apple and cherry & vanilla. To boost awareness of the Chupa Chups brand there will be an extensive sampling campaign to more than two million consumers during 2009.

Haribo is a company that gets behind Halloween in a big way with its Horror and Magic Mix sweets. “These special Halloween-shaped treats are heavily promoted through merchandise such as shelf wobblers and dumpbins,” says the company’s managing director Herwig Vennekens.

Stangroom says Perfetti Van Melle will continue to work on npd during 2009. “A combination of npd and strong selling core lines is the best portfolio to offer to retailers in any climate and especially at the moment.” He points to recent new products including the Chupa Mini Bag of five mini lollipops, Fruittella Fruit Filled and Fruittella Liquorice and Fruit.

In Smint there’s a new Xtra Strong variety and Mentos is launching a Rainbow roll, where the consumer is guaranteed to receive each of seven flavours.

Vennekens says variety in pack formats for a range of occasions is also important. “We offer 10p bags alongside pocket money packs and larger share bags. This promotes choice and a variety of price points, which opens the market to cater for a wider audience base.”

Bendicks’ Dalton has the final say: “Big brands can dominate and their planograms are not always in the interest of the retailer, especially when there is repetition of the same SKU. C-store customers want variety and choice, and the planograms don’t always help achieve this goal. Smaller stores should make the most of their space. For example, smaller products such as stick packs render more free space to sell a greater range of products.”

retailer opinion

“Confectionery is a major part of our business as our store used to be a traditional sweet shop in the post-War years. We re-opened it in 2004 selling jars of weighout sweets. We’ve moved premises twice since then and became a c-store, but sweets are still important and account for 30-40% of our sales. We have 50-60 jars of traditional sweets plus 80-90 pick ‘n’ mix lines. Since the demise of Woolworths, our pick ‘n’ mix sales have grown.

“We sell it for 69p per 100g but nobody ever buys just 100g. Pear drops, fudge, jazzies and snowies are all good sellers. I get most of my stock from Hancocks. Margins are excellent - on average 60%. You do get people sampling before they buy, but it’s not a massive problem. The adults are worse than the kids!

“We also sell rolls and bags of sweets and sour sweets are still popular.”

John Bessent, The Busy Bee, Tiverton, Devon

ones to watch…

Classic line-up

Pascall and Sharps prepacks, jars and weighout boxes have been rebranded as Taveners. They include some confectionery classics.

rrp: from 99p prepack

tel: 01253 603613


n the mix

New Rowntree’s Randoms comprise 258 different sweets with four different textures, six fruit flavours and 70 shapes.

rrp: 39p

tel: 0800

A hat trick

Hancocks’ ‘three for 99p’ range, designed for the children’s market to provide controlled portions of weighout sweets, has a new design.

tel: 01509 216 644

Dual personality

ChewTwo from Maoam offers two different flavours in one chew. Combinations include cherry & cola and orange & lime.

rrp: £1.12

tel: 01977 600266


Haribo’s Fruity Frutti brings together foam, jelly and a liquid filling in one. It comes in a mix of mango, raspberry and orange flavours.

rrp: £1.12

tel: 01977 600266

Top 5

1 Wrigley’s Extra

2 Rowntree

3 Maynard

4 Haribo

5 Trebor

Source: AC Nielsen Scantrack

top tips

70% of confectionery is bought on impulse so displays are critical to driving sales

More than 80% of confectionery sales in c-stores come from the main fixture so focus on this

Place best-sellers in the best positions

Allocate space according to sales

Multiface the best sellers - this helps ensure their availability as well as their visibility

Be aware of your busy times and stock up in advance. For example, school holidays when people take long car journeys

Keep up to date with launches and promotions

Site new products in a dumpbin in a high-traffic area, or in a counter bin at the till

Stock products backed by advertising. For example, Nestlé’s new Rowntree’s Randoms will be backed by a £6m media campaign, including TV and outdoor ads from June 5. And Haribo’s new Fruity Frutti will be supported by national TV, cinema, radio and a sampling campaign

Use all available point of sale material

Create high-impact secondary displays to drive sales.