Snacks & Candy

Brushing Up on the Sweet Tooth

Candy Expo sessions offer glimpse of more industry trends

CHICAGO -- Educational seminars held during the 2005 All Candy Expo gave retailers a chance to get a glimpse at just what demographics are buy which types of candies. During one such session, a moderator of an all-female consumer panel handed the new Fear Factor candy to the eight ladies and asked for their opinions. While all believed the gummy octopuses and test-tube acid baths lacked nutritional benefits, they felt the line would appeal to the youth demographic.

The session was one of several offered during the annual candy convention, which was held [image-nocss] June 14-16 in Chicago, hosted by the National Confectioners Association (NCA).

Part of a live consumer panel, the women discussed their candy buying habits and the reasons they chose particular candy bars, gums or mints. Many of their preferences hit upon industry trends, including a desire for brand-name line extensions and spicy penchants for Mexican-American tastes, sugar-free, individually wrapped candies for their children's school functions and smaller portions for guilt-free consumption.

Seven of the eight said they made candy purchases at convenience stores, with the number of visits ranging from once a month to twice a week.

I've got one word: sugar-free, said Christine Brown, director of vendors, Royal Buying Group, Hinsdale, Ill., who was walking the trade show floor. She said that such products fall in line with the healthier, fresher trends in the c-store industry.

Raymond Jones, managing director of marketing consultancy Dechert-Hampe & Co., Northbrook, Ill., noted during another educational session that additional trends inclusive of nostalgia-packaged products aimed at aging Baby Boomers and older customers, options for diabetics and the health conscious, and extreme flavors for young people.

Jones noted how candy aisles are in need of excitement, with new products as well as planned, seasonal merchandising.

Meanwhile, the show floor revealed cross-marketing as a trend with such products as Lucy's milk-chocolate bars, which are based on the assembly line episode of the I Love Lucy TV show, from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Inc., Durango, Colo., and a number of movie tie-in products with Star Wars being a headliner. Galerie, Hebron, Ky., licenses a number of such products.

Even God got a shout out from Inspirational Candy, Birmingham, Ala. Its Christian candies include mints and other products packaged with religious visuals and sayings.

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