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Sweetened merchandising can grow candy sales

BY Barbara White-Sax

Manufacturers and retailers seem to be paying more attention to how they are merchandising candy. In a recent investor update, Hershey chief executive officer David West said that in an attempt to make candy aisles easier for consumers to shop, the company is testing new displays that group products by purchasing occasion, such as movie candy, gifts and items for the candy dish.

“Merchandising is really important to the category,” said Lisbeth Echeandia, a consultant with Frey Enterprises, a consumer packaged goods consulting firm. “The center of the store isn’t being shopped as much, so confectionery needs to be where consumers are.”

Echeandia said a steady stream of new products isn’t enough to keep consumers interested. “We need to merchandise in a more fun, logical way,” she said. “We are realizing that just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come.”

Industry experts said a better organized candy aisle boosts sales. “More than 70 percent of consumers make their decision on what to buy in the candy aisles and spend less than 30 seconds in the aisle,” said Jenn Ellek, a spokeswoman for the National Confectioners Association. “Fixtures that provide segmented, easy-to-distinguish sections by confectionery category provide the highest sales.”

Signage can help, particularly for such hot segments as theater candy. Walgreens clearly labels its three-foot in-line theater section, located at the front of the store, with signage. “I’ve seen some nice signage at chains like H-E-B for the theater section,” Echeandia said. “Jelly Belly has also done well with in-line displays in bins that attract attention to the product.”

Retailers can get an even bigger boost with outposting—especially in such segments of the category as theater or premium chocolate, which have been high-growth areas.

CVS recently debuted a four-foot wood endcap fixture in some locations to house premium chocolate, one of the fastest-growing segments in the candy category. The fixture, placed in the front of the store, holds Lindt, Ghirardelli, Dove, Green & Blacks and M&M’s new Premiums brand, among others. Premium bagged chocolate is merchandised on the front of the fixture, while bars, boxed candy and more bags are located on the sides.

“Cross merchandising has always been an effective and easy way for retailers to increase their confectionery sales, and theater box marketing is no exception,” Ellek said. Within the aisle, she has seen retailers use signage to draw attention to a theater box set with between 12 and 20 different products. “Retailers can also use a shopping-interruption technique and set up a display highlighting a movie theme with DVDs, popcorn, beverages and, of course, confectionery,” she said.

Since NCA data show that 35 percent of customers pick up a candy or snack during their shopping trip, Ellek said retailers who take advantage of point-of-shopping interruption throughout the store to encourage more buying see a spike in sales.

“Top-performing retailers use in-store features, displays and promotions to increase confectionery sales,” Ellek said. “Retailers can use shelf dividers, call-outs and section breaks to accentuate the aisle and give consumers every opportunity to purchase.”

Grabbing more space in other departments isn’t an easy sell. “The primary roadblock to more creativity in merchandising the category is territorial issues at retail,” Echeandia said. Chocolate may be a natural near greeting cards and sugar-free candy has cross-selling opportunity near the pharmacy, but too often buyers aren’t working together to make the most of those synergies.

“Retailers should know that there is a $10 billion growth opportunity in the confectionery category based on best practices of top retailers,” Ellek said. “Merchandising confectionery is one of the easiest and most lucrative ways retailers can increase sales and bottom-line profits.”

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General Mills sees boost in cereal sales for Q1

BY Jenna Duncan

CHICAGO General Mills has reported booming first-quarter earnings, with a strong leader in sales of cereal. The company attributed its strong sales to an increase in people eating breakfast at home to save money, and General Mills’ successful cereal marketing strategies.

The maker of Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Trix and Wheaties, has said that increased efforts to market its breakfast cereal brands in the first quarter have paid off. Even though General Mills saw a slight decrease in its overall net earnings, due to drop in worth of some of the company’s commodity positions (down 4 percent to $279 million), not including those commodities, other total net earnings increased by 19 percent. Furthermore, the company reported that sales in the United States were up by 13 percent.

Reports showed that General Mills increased its advertising spending in the first quarter ended Aug. 24 by 17 percent. This increase came in addition to an 11 percent increase at the same time last year.

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Celestial Seasonings introduces teas to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month

BY Jenna Duncan

BOULDER, Colo. Celestial Seasonings teas has announced the release of two new specialty green teas in designer boxes to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Cranberry pomegranate and tropical grapefruit green tea varieties are being released in boxes designed by artists Dagmar Fehlau and Heidi Kummli who are both breast cancer survivors, the company said. The new boxes are part of Celestial Seasonings’ ongoing support effort of the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Both green tea flavors are available at U.S. grocery stores and natural foods markets. They retail for around $2.99 per 20-count box.

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