Sweet Stuff

Wholesalers are finding their old faithfuls are the brands they can rely on to deliver growth, despite some having been around for decades. Brands such as Maynards and Barratts and Tic Tacs continue to buck the recessionary trend and suppliers are keen to stress the continued importance of the category to wholesalers.

Matt Austin, Wrigley Confections business unit director, says that sugar confectionery is in good shape – in fact in growth for the past two or three years despite consumer cut-backs elsewhere. “Sugar confectionery is a good value indulgence, it lasts a long time and you can dose it,” he says….particularly referring to the growing trend of products from this category finding their way alongside crisps and other bagged snacks for the “big night in” consumer occasions. Austin adds that gaming is now a major social, sharing occasion and fruit confectionery – including Wrigley’s Skittles and Starburst brands, fits the consumer need perfectly – particularly the “tear and share” larger packs.

Austin says the trend for people to make the most of an evening at home with friends is one wholesalers should be looking to profit from by encouraging their retail customers to buy into “big night in”. “Where independent stores have capitalised on it, we’re seeing big uptakes on those items. Wholesalers need to have them in a spot where retailers can see them clearly and understand what they’re for.

Austin’s views are echoed by Alison Brand, marketing director for Tangerine Confectionery, the company behind the Barretts. She says: “As consumers rein in their wider spending on big ticket items and non essential purchases, the intrinsic value of smaller treats increases and they are less likely to compromise in this area. While there is little sign of coming out of recession, sweets should continue to be resilient during this period of austerity.

“The sharing boom has arguably ramped up growth the most over the past year. Sharing formats have been a key area for Tangerine with rising sales for hanging bags and sharing formats such as Barratt ‘I Love Sweets’ bag of bags currently valued at around £31m.”

However, she says consumers still expect to find a bargain so value is another key trend supporting the growth of the category, relying heavily on promotion of trusted favourites. “We’ve seen frequent multi-buy, extra-free and round-pound pricing that support impulse purchase, or in the case of new products, encourages trial.

Brand continues: “There’s also a trend towards more frequent shallow promotions and coupon collects, discount experiences and price-marked bags so consumers can clearly see good value for money.”

Levi Boorer, customer development director for Ferrero says Tic Tacs are now worth more than £20m and selling 50m packs each year – its highest level of volume sales since the brand was launched in the 1970s.

Like Brand and Austin, Boorer says confectionery is not feeling the effects of the recession. “Consumers are still willing to buy treats, and confectionery is a low-cost way of doing this. Pocket confectionery accounts for 34% of sugar unit sales so it represents a significant part of a retailer’s confectionery business.”

“Having both mint and fruit flavours means Tic Tacs features in the two largest segments of pocket confectionery with 55% of value sales going through the impulse channel.”

While fruit confectionery continues to thrive, mints, according to Boorer have had something of a tougher time although it still remains the second largest segment within the pocket confectionary category, representing a significant sales opportunity. “Our focus has been twofold; developing marketing advertising that engages younger consumers, and working with retailers to make sure fixtures are effective, relevant and not confusing.”

“In terms of marketing, mints currently attract older consumers than, for example, fruit. It’s important to continue to attract this audience but also bring in new, younger consumers and, greatly appealing to both, X-Factor is a perfect partner. During 2011 we ran an X-Factor on-pack promotion across all Tic Tac flavours and pack sizes, giving consumers the chance to win tickets to the live shows, as well as tickets to The X-Factor Live Tour 2012. It ran across all sectors and was supported by bespoke display units, as well as outdoor and digital advertising; the promotion has undoubtedly contributed to Tic Tac experiencing its highest volume performance to date last year.”

Boorer says it’s vital that wholesalers stress the importance of impulse purchase to the mint sector. “Pocket Confectionery is one of the most impulsive categories in the confectionery market, with seven out of 10 purchases being unplanned, which makes merchandising the right products at till points and on fixture the secret to unlocking sales in this area.” He adds that branded counter display units have helped boost sales by up to 161%.

Chewits is another brand with a long history. Stuart Lane is commercial director of Leaf Confectionery UK that owns Chewits. He says: “Chewits performs very well in the wholesale channel, as the route through to the shelves of the independent convenience retailers. The Chewits Xtreme Sour Apple variant, aimed at a slightly older group of 12 to 15 year olds – is performing exceptionally well. Its rate of sale is phenomenal with many stores selling up to a case and a half per week.”

But to ensure the brand is fully supported through the wholesale channel, Leaf recently appointed SHS Sales amp; Marketing to deliver a tailored support programme. Says Lane: “Using a range of promotional and display activities, we are concentrating on really supporting wholesale sales through a proposition aimed specifically at the independent market.” Part of that activity sees the launch next month (July) of £1 price-marked 4-packs of its bestselling Chewits fruit flavours – strawberry, blackcurrant and fruit salad.

Lane also stresses that one of the roots of Chewits’ success is its appeal to children buying their own sweets. “Our consumer research showed that Chewits has a clear positioning amongst children buying sweets. Whilst competitor brands have a strong overlap with each other and compete for the same age group, Chewits is the only chewy sweet brand that appeals to the core age group of 5 to 11 year olds,” he says. The Kraft Foods portfolio

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