Retailers see the candy department as a key profit zone. Holidays in particular are a key window of opportunity for candy brands and retailers alike. Seasonal products create the opportunity for incremental business if the product is well-marketed and supported at retail. Further, it’s clear that there is thriving consumer demand for seasonal candy products.
“It can be a challenge for candy marketers to advertise support between new product launches and existing brands, as well as addressing the seasonality in certain candy products. But successful brands understand the need to support seasonal products during key holidays and gift-giving occasions. These companies typically make seasonal offerings a mainstay of their marketing strategies,” says David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts. “As with fashion, confectionery cycles go through different fads and trends. After a product or flavor profile has its time in the spotlight, the consumer will move on to the next big thing. Candy marketers have to be marketing toward the trend, but also be able to get ahead of the trend. Seasonal strategies can play a role in this forward-thinking strategy.”
Packaged Facts found that the trend toward targeting the seasons, as well as official holidays, continues, with new products in 2016 aimed toward developing the summer and autumn seasons. Beyond chocolate, chewy candy and gummies are increasing their presence in the seasonal space in line with growth in those segments.
The most obvious opportunities for seasonal candy success lay with a quartet of holidays: Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, and Winter/Christmas. Unsurprisingly, Halloween has been on a steady growth curve. Packaged Facts estimates that seasonal Halloween chocolate dollar sales was up 61% last year, with growth attributed to a shift from snack size to seasonal package, in addition to an influx of unique, large-size items.
Conversely, other holiday sales—especially for Easter—have been mixed. Nevertheless, Packaged Facts sees Winter/Christmas themed candy as a seasonal segment with growth potential for candy marketers. Seasonal chocolate candy sales during Winter/Christmas were up 3% last year.
“Even with the popularity of cookies, cakes, and other sweet baked treats traditionally associated with Christmas, there are opportunities to grow Christmas candy sales and not just through the inclusion of yuletide yummies in food gifts given as presents,” says Sprinkle.
The growth of premium chocolate is also playing out in the seasonal market. Some consumers are trading up to premium chocolate for certain gift-giving holidays, especially Easter and Christmas. The premium chocolate brands have also established several iconic products, such as the Lindt Bunny, which cement their position against mass brands.