In 2020, consumers searched for distractions to take their minds off the stress of the pandemic. Clark Taylor, senior vice president for CandyRific, expects that to continue.

“Consumers are interested in trying new stuff,” he says. “[They’re] testing new varieties and flavor combinations.” And variety can mean a lot more than just what’s new. It can also mean stocking consumer favorites, premium and budget candies as well as healthier products and more indulgent options. It can mean small sample sizes as well as stock-up packaging.

“Consumers turned to their favorite trusted brands to provide small moments of joy during these challenging times,” says Jim Dodge, vice president of convenience at Mars Wrigley, Newark, N.J.

On the other hand, Peri Mendelson, director, sales operations and analytics at Promotion In Motion Cos. (now PIM Brands), Allendale, N.J., says out-of-stocks and distribution issues drove a “shift in shoppers’ purchases to products offered by smaller and private-label brands.”

That suggests it is more important than ever to provide a wide variety of treat options.