Taste, size and portability continue to drive growth in non-chocolate candy, especially gum and mints.
And while U.S. consumer trends have moved toward the growing popularity of breath-fresheners and away from gum, according to the National Confectioners Association (NCA), candy and gum sales in convenience stores rose a significant 5.6% over the 52 weeks ending Dec. 27, 2015, versus the same period one year earlier.
“Breath fresheners are growing significantly at a pace of over 9% driven by leading brands,” said Jenn Ellek, senior director of trade marketing and communications for the NCA. “Gum too is growing again from over $50 million in new item sales over the past two years and nearly $5 million in new items in 2015 alone.”
With the many different flavor options available in the segment, treats go beyond functional needs such as fresh breath, exciting tastes, tiding over, smoking cessation or suppressing appetite.
But cost and size also influence purchasing. The Mintel Group said in its December 2014 “Sugar Confectionery and Breath Fresheners—U.S.” study that “product innovation across many of the category’s segments has kept the category fresh.”
Mintel predicted that the category will grow to $9 billion by 2019, an increase of 25% over current numbers, due to candy, gum and mints following other industries’ lead in resealable, portable and multi-size packages as well as the desire for impulse purchases.
“I envision most candy planograms to be even more weighted toward king size or sharing-size pack sizes,” said Jared Scheeler, managing director of The Hub Convenience Stores, while noting that even though healthier options are popular across many food segments, size of candy still matters.
Hersey’s Cool Blast Chews, billed as a quick-dissolving chew in a slide pack to be used as a breath freshener launched in the mid-2015, earning much market acclaim. That was just one of many manufacturers that rushed out new packaging, products and flavors to attract customers.
Dentyne released Ice Subzero Mints, in flavors like Glacier and Avalanche.
In addition to size, the evolution of the marketing has come from companies experimenting with different textures and flavors. Mintel’s report shows that chewy candy holds a 41% market share in sugar confectionery due to innovation and a wide variety of product types and formats, while hard candy is stable.
Because even with innovative packaging and flavors, affordable indulgences like candy, gum and mints still serve one main function.
“It is about “instant consumables”—items I can enjoy as a treat easily and conveniently on the run, usually in my car or back at the workplace,” Ellek said. “Thus, the items need to meet customers’ needs for treating.”
Stay tuned to Convenience Store Decisions‘ March issue, where we delve into 38 in-store categories to identify emerging trends and garner retailer analysis to forecast what operators can expect for 2016 and beyond.