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


Skittles has just launched its biggest ever on-pack promotion with a £50,000 prize pot up for grabs.
Available across all 55g and 174g variants, the promotion is backed by a through-the-line marketing campaign – with TV kicking off this month, fronted by its star, Grant Britton.

Grant has a unique affliction that means he sweats Skittles. There are 500 “golden” Skittles sweated by Grant hidden in the promotional packs and throughout the campaign, consumers will be encouraged to help Grant work up a Skittles sweat in a bid to win limited edition merchandise such as sweatbands, water bottles and t-shirts.

Matt Austin, Wrigley Confections business unit director says: “Skittles is already outperforming the category with sales up 58% on last year (Nielsen MAT March 24, 2012) making this promotion a golden profit opportunity.”


  • Stock the best sellers… but also ensure you offer variety (brands and variants) 
  • Be aware of the products that are engaging with retailers and shoppers through advertising and consumer promotions to help capitalise on demand
  • Always take time to talk to the suppliers’ sales representatives when they visit your depot.  They know the categories inside out, which products to highlight and are ultimately able to offer the best advice on how to grow sales in depot
  • Signpost sugar confectionery displays with beacon brands
  • Merchandise best sellers on the shelf at eye level and tell your retail customers to do likewise


The Natural Confectionery Company (TNCC) has launched a 180g sharing bag of Guzzle Puzzle – that combines two different-shaped fruit and spice flavoured jelly sweets like puzzle pieces to create another flavour.  Apple and Lime (to make Lemonade) and Apple and Raspberry (Blackcurrant), join Cinnamon and lime (Cola), Orange and banana (Bubblegum) and Raspberry and Lime (Pink Lemonade). Kraft says Guzzle Puzzle grew by 13.1% (Nielsen Value Sales 12 wk ending Sept 17, 2011) with sales in the first 12 weeks of launch adding £2.3m to the brand.

Tic Tac from Ferrero has launched Strawberry Fields, to maximise the largest and fastest growing segment of pocket confectionery – fruit, which has grown +6% (Nielsen Pocket Confectionery, Total Coverage MAT to Feb 25, 2012). Levi Boorer, customer development director says last summer’s limited edition flavours helped to drive incremental growth by attracting younger shoppers with the halo effect boosting standard Tic Tac sales by 89%(Nielsen Pocket Confectionery 52 wks to Aug 6, 2011). Strawberry Fields is available now backed by a £2m spend across the brand as part of Ferrero’s plans to double the size of its UK business in the next five years. Impulse specific POS has been created to support the launch along with counter-tops and clip strips. Strawberry Fields is available in 18g single pack, RSP 50p and the 48g 100 pack, RSP £1.25.

Making its debut from Tangerine Confectionery this summer is Barratt British Mix, consisting of fruity soft gums in British-themed shapes, from a red telephone box to Big Ben. RSP £1.35 for a 180g bag. Tangerine is also partnering with Vimto to produce and market its Vimto Bon Bon sweets – made from the secret Vimto recipe and containing real fruit juice. They are available in a 165g bag or jar format and will come as shelf ready cases with a £1 flash price.

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