For consumers, confectionery is an exciting category. It can bring genuine moments of everyday indulgence.

Despite the changes to our lives over the past months, we have still seen consumers look for the products they love, and which are familiar to them.

We have also seen that whilst they seek reassurance from their favourite brands, they still look to confectionery to bring new products to market and excite loyal consumers.

Victoria Gell, Fruity Confections Portfolio Director, Mars Wrigley, comments: “For Mars Wrigley, the success of the overall sugar confectionery category is driven by our dynamic innovation programme, which has been received positively by both new and existing shoppers. The positive impact of innovation alongside our bestselling core range, has ensured that sales are strong.”

Following the launch of Extra Refreshers singles back in 2020, which were available in Peppermint, Spearmint and Bubblemint, the launch of Extra Refreshers in the popular bottle format aims to ensure that consumers have access to their favourite gum whatever the occasion, at home or on the go. Mars Wrigley is also expanding the Refreshers portfolio with a new Tropical flavour to capitalise on the popularity of tropical flavour profiles with younger consumers.

Extra Refreshers bottle launches at £2.19 RRP in three flavours, Peppermint, Spearmint and new Tropical flavour which will also be released in a single pack of 7 pieces at £0.59 RRP. The debut of Extra Refreshers bottle and Tropical flavour will be supported by in-store and multimedia campaigns featuring in-store displays and bold POS, as well as comprehensive consumer online activation.

“During lockdown we saw consumer habits continue to evolve, with traditional ways of consuming gum also beginning to change,” adds Gell. “Although ‘freshening’ is the primary reason to chew across all gum occasions, many new occasions have been identified, including a move away from purely ‘on the go’ purchases.”

As we have all spent more time at home, our consumption patterns and needs have shifted, but gum has stayed central to lots of consumers – even at home. 42% of gum consumers said their top reason for chewing gum was to feel relaxed, with 30% of gum occasions taking place whilst relaxing in the afternoon/evening (Kantar). This occasion most often occurs around common activities like watching TV, browsing the internet and socialising, and it is characterised by unwinding and taking a break. This is a significant emerging consumer trend and most commonly occurs at home either alone or with family, driving the growing occasion of in-home gum consumption.

More immediately, as we are all currently required to wear face masks in all retail outlets, consumers have highlighted the need for gum to help freshen breath underneath face masks. Research has indicated that as consumers wear masks more often, they are also chewing more gum than previously, ensuring that retailers should continue to meet demand throughout 2021.

Launched earlier in January, Mars Wrigley’s Extra ‘Get Your Ding Back’, is a brand-new multimedia campaign created to drive chewing gum consumption in home – with in-store activations coming soon. The campaign aims to drive category growth within Mints & Gum by sharing humorous insight on when and why consumers chew gum. The first piece of content focuses on in home dating as it’s a passion point for Next Gen, the biggest age group of chewers. Featuring a couple wearing animal slippers together in front of the TV, the first advert demonstrates how Extra Chewing Gum can bring back people’s confidence in any context.

“As consumer behaviour evolves, new shoppers and new purchase occasions are emerging in the gum category; these include morning routine, chewing alone, work/study, leisure at home and freshening moments,” says Gell. “Under-developed chewing opportunities in home include after eating/drinking, whilst working/studying and dating/styling up for next gen.”

The short-term aim of Extra ‘Get Your Ding Back’ is to reignite confidence into people who may have lost it over the past year due to not going out or not socialising as much and help people to get their ‘ding’ back in 2021.

Following lockdown restrictions over the past year, two occasions have been identified as most valuable for gum: ‘9-5’ and ‘relaxing at home’. The campaign will continue to innovate to reflect the changes in key consumption occasions, with a view for on the go’ and ‘dating’ to be a future focus.

Last year Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles, one of the UK and Ireland’s most popular confectionery brands for almost 140 years, became vegan friendly.

The new vegan friendly recipe will be used across the full range of Fruit Pastilles sweets, starting with sharing bags in October 2020. Fruit Pastilles join Nestlé’s expanding range of vegan products, which include Jelly Tots, Carnation vegan condensed milk and Nescafé Gold dairy alternative lattes.

Nestlé technicians trialled over 30 recipes before arriving at the new formulation. Their mission was to remove the gelatine while ensuring the sweets retained the fruity flavour and iconic chew they are famous for.

Meg Miller, Brand Manager for Rowntree’s at Nestlé, said at the time: “We’ve had many requests from consumers over the years asking if we can make Fruit Pastilles vegetarian or vegan. We want the brand to be enjoyed by as many consumers as possible and so we are delighted to be able to introduce our new vegan friendly recipe across the full range of sweets.

“In developing the new formulation, we were very conscious of our responsibility as custodians of this much-loved brand and its long history. Through this recipe change, we’ve made the sweets slightly softer, which we know has been a market trend for a number of years. However, our priority was to preserve the fabulously fruity chew that has made Fruit Pastilles a classic for almost a century and a half.”

Fruit Pastilles, a mix of blackcurrant, lemon, strawberry, lime and orange chewy sweets, contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.

The number of vegans in Great Britain quadrupled between 2014 and 2019. In 2019 there were 600,000 vegans, compared with 150,000 in 2014 (Ipsos Mori).

Whilst in January 2021 500,000 people signed up to Veganuary (double that of 2019) (IGD).

In January Nestlé announced an addition to its Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles range. New Dessert Pastilles come in four delicious flavours – mango sorbet, blueberry pie, cherry bakewell and apple crumble; and are available in a 139g sharing bag (RRP in UK: £1.29).

Like the rest of the range, Dessert Pastilles are vegan-friendly.

Miller said: “There has been an incredible response to our slightly softer, vegan friendly Fruit Pastilles and we’re delighted consumers agree that the chew remains as fabulously fruity as ever. Now we are introducing an innovative twist on our classic pastilles with four on-trend flavours that evoke the taste of some of the nation’s best loved puddings.”

Activity such as Nestlé’s brand-new Win a Staycation on-pack promotion is designed to drive shopper interest in the chocolate confectionery category and boost singles sales. The promotion sees the single formats of big brands including KitKat, Aero and Yorkie, team up to offer consumers the chance to ‘win a staycation’ every day, plus 100s of days out, during the promotional period.

As well as capitalising on manufacturer activity, retailers can also boost their confectionery sales by ensuring they have merchandised the category effectively. The most popular shopping missions for the chocolate category are Top-up (46%), Treat (18%), Meal Occasion (11%), Food-to-go (11%) and Newsagent (8%) (Lumina). Creating mission-led merchandising solutions in-store, such as locating the singles fixture adjacent to food-to-go, enables retailers to maximise the opportunity for shoppers to add confectionery to their baskets and therefore increase basket spend.

Premium chocolate sales are performing well, +7.4% (IRI), and growing ahead of the total confectionery market. This is being driven by +28% growth in premium chocolate blocks, an area now worth £186 million. Retailers can capitalise on this growing area by stocking up on key packs such as Aero Darker Milk, merchandise on-shelf towards the top of the fixture as this is where shoppers look to trade up, and also look for secondary siting opportunities alongside other categories associated with sharing and gifting such as cards, BWS and flowers.

Gabriella Egleton, Kervan Gida UK Brand Marketing Manager, comments: “Bebeto is all about enjoying the little things. Much like the smell of freshly cut grass or splashing in puddles, Bebeto provides moments of joy for the whole family. Packed full of fun flavours and tempting tastes, our range includes licorice, gummy, marshmallow and bubble gum lines.”

2020 was a difficult year for all brands; the initial months were uncertain and driven by unpredictable consumer behaviour. The early months had the biggest impact on the category’s performance. Sales of single sweets (under 100g) saw significant losses (-33%) in March and April last year.

When things began to settle, the market benefited from a slight boom. Consumers opted for small indulgences. Impulse purchases rose as consumers purchased treats to enjoy whilst being confined at home, mostly in sharing bag and multipack formats.

Towards the end of 2020, brands that struggled to hit the mark suffered from declining sales; consumers made fewer shopping trips and on-the-go product formats were hit the hardest.

“Thankfully challenger brands like Bebeto and Dexters, were able to innovate and thrive,” adds Egleton. “We exceeded our Christmas sales forecast and ended the year 25%+ vs. 2019. We entered 2021 with the same enthusiasm and motivation to grow our UK brand presence as the previous year.”

Now that the vaccine has been rolled out en masse here in the UK, consumer confidence of in-store shopping is slowly returning. However, Egleton anticipates further challenges for the confectionery sector within the remainder of the year.

Consumers are changing the way they shop and they’re also paying more attention to what they are consuming, and Covid-19 has only emphasised this. As such, sugar confectionery remains high on the list of products receiving negative press. The war on sugar remains and it will perhaps be one of the toughest challenges still yet to come.

In December 2020 the government published its response to the 2019 consultation on restricting promotions of a wide range of high in fat, sugar, and salt (HFSS) foods and drinks. By April 2022 the UK Government will implement strict guidelines on how HFSS content foods are advertised and sold in the UK, including in-store promotions.

“Given these pressures, now more than ever, it is crucial that brands within our sector are innovating and diversifying,” Egleton advises.

Notably, low, and no-sugar alternatives are also on the rise within the confectionery category. Kervan Gida already has a range of high fruit juice confectionery available, including Strawberry Twists and Fruit Snacks. The company is also currently developing a range of reduced sugar products.

The topic of sustainability and plastic pollution also remains a key point for the consumer goods industry. Consumers demand that brands and retailers care beyond revenue. Protecting the health and interest of society and the planet is the new expectation, following COVID-19.

“Many brands within our sector are making sustainable improvements to their supply chains, and we’re no different,” Egleton continues. “Our marketing, and research and development teams have been working hard on product and packaging innovation, and we’re looking forward to announcing our advances later this year.”

In response to the impending HFSS legislation, Kervan Gida is focusing more on quality over quantity. Firstly, in line with the changes, the company will be removing all ‘multibuy’ and ‘extra free’ promotions from its packing on products that are sold to medium and large retailers, including symbol groups. Secondly, Kervan Gida is working to build brand awareness so that consumers search out its products when in-store. Finally, the company is innovating with NPD that appeals to an inclusive audience.

Kervan Gida began the year by re-introducing its vegan licorice range, and has recently launched Bebeto Pick & Mix Party Pack. This bag of goodness offers the whole family a safe, fun way to enjoy Pick & Mix in the home. Given the current restrictions and concerns around traditional Pick and Mix stands, this new confectionery concept provides consumers with added play value in a safe, engaging format.

Each bag is bursting full of goodies, including 10 x candy striped goodie bags, 10 x stickers, 1 x scoop, 750g of fruity gummy sweets and 30g of fluffy, soft marshmallows. It comes packaged in a handy re-sealable stand-up pouch bag which can be taken anywhere; it’s great for Covid-safe outdoors parties and picnics or even big family nights-in. It’s also perfect for sweet lovers; the sweet mix includes family favourites such as fried eggs, gummy worms and mini strawberry pencils.

Kervan Gida also recently released a new range of gummy products, including Fizzy Watermelons, Strawberries, Big Mix and Big Fizzy Big, available in 150g and 190g hanging bag formats. The brand has taken its best-selling shapes and flavours and mixed, matched, and repackaged them in a bigger bag format. These lines are all 100% Halal certified, contain real fruit juice and no artificial colours.

A nationwide marketing campaign will promote these new gummy products, including out-of-home advertising and a national television commercial, both due to launch this September. Kervan Gida will be sending out 85,000 samples to students during fresher’s week and running multiple competitions across its social media platforms.

The brand has developed several retail merchandising formats for the new gummy range, and will be working with retailers to optimise sales during the promotional campaign.

Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondelez International, comments: “Staying relevant in an ever-changing market is key for brands to thrive within confectionery. Whether they offer consumers authenticity, quality, lower sugar content or simply a great core line from a brand they know and love, brands must ensure their products embody these trends to stay ahead of the curve. The key will be continuing to provide consumers with those joyful moments they seek from the category – through innovation or products they love and trust.”

Chocolate is eaten as a treat and we know that consumers’ purchasing decisions are mostly driven by taste. As we mature, our taste preferences change and many older consumers prefer the higher cocoa hit of dark chocolate brands such as Darkmilk, which offers consumers the best of both worlds with the richest, creamiest bar Cadbury has ever made.

“Despite a challenging year for the category, we’ve seen incredible growth for Cadbury Darkmilk,” adds Nash. “This success stems from a deep understanding of our shoppers, as we know that although not all consumers grow to love the stronger flavour profile of dark chocolate, many still appreciate a richer tasting chocolate as their taste buds mature.”

Green & Black’s, the premium chocolate brand, has announced a packaging refresh across its Organic tablets range that will capture the attention of shoppers looking to trade up within the category. The new visual identity reinforces the brand’s commitment to ethically sourced cocoa, and high quality chocolate. By celebrating these core attributes of the Green & Black’s brand, the new design marks a return to its roots, with a nod to its heritage and values. Moreover, the packaging refresh for five Green & Black’s Dark bars will be registered with The Vegan Society (70% Dark, 85% Dark, Ginger, Maya Gold, and Hazelnut & Currant).

“As well as this, grocers should ensure their range includes both single bars and multipacks from the leading brands to suit the needs of these consumers who are buying confectionery on smaller trips or as part of their weekly shop,” Nash advises. “It’s also important to remember consumers look for excitement from a category like confectionery – so new bars like Cadbury Wispa Gold Duo will help tap into this, while the return of Cadbury Twirl Orange helped drive shopper excitement once more.”

Mondelez started 2021 with the launch of a brand-new fruit and nut snack brand, Cadbury Nuttier. The brand’s three flavours – Peanut & Almond, Cranberry, Peanut & Almond and Coconut & Almond – are available in single bars, helping grocers to recruit new shoppers to the range with a trusted, recognisable brand, while tapping into this expanding and valuable category.

Cadbury Dairy Milk has been given a fresh, more modern look that reflects the progressive vision of founder John Cadbury. The new visual identity is being rolled out across the range during 2021.

“It’s also important for grocers to carry sharing bags of sugar confectionery,” Nash continues. “Maynards Bassetts, one of the UK’s favourite confectionery brands since 1842, is tapping into consumer desires for authenticity, higher real fruit content and added benefits with the launch of Superfruit Jellies.”

Available now, Maynards Bassetts Superfruit Jellies come in 130g bags and are the latest addition to the popular Soft Jellies range following the launch of Soft Jellies Fizzy Fish in 2019. The four new flavours – papaya, pomegranate, blueberry and cranberry – all in fruit shapes, will add incremental sales to the category for big night in occasions.

Levi Boorer, Customer Development Director, Ferrero, comments: “Following a challenging year, chocolates present an opportunity for shoppers to treat family and friends. Having had to remain away from loved ones during the pandemic has left many people feeling sentimental and more appreciative than ever. With the new vaccination, there is a sense of hope and people are looking forward to the possibility of spending more time together. This may still be in smaller groups, but we anticipate shoppers wanting to mark events, making them even more special and gifting loved ones with affordable luxuries – such as premium confectionery, to add a little sparkle.“

Confectionery is one of the few categories where shoppers are willing to spend money on the products that they love, in order to treat themselves and loved ones. While the recent lockdown has added a degree of uncertainty to how people might celebrate, shoppers will still be looking for high-quality products to gift loved ones or to treat their households.

People turn to the brands they know and love during times of uncertainty. Ferrero’s portfolio of premium, established brands – Ferrero Rocher, Ferrero Collection, Raffaello, and Thorntons – offers consumers high quality treats or gifts, which suit the growth of the ‘big night in’ occasions too.

Premium Boxed Confectionery will continue to play an important role in driving confectionery sales, so it’s important that the right pack formats are offered to suit shopper missions and baskets size. For example, Ferrero Rocher 300g and Thorntons Classic 262g are ideal offerings that make it easier for shoppers to switch to these premium brands that will help drive bigger basket sales for retailers.

“Shoppers are emotionally invested within the confectionery category as the brands help them celebrate the moments they share with loved ones,” adds Boorer. “It’s because of this love that shoppers keep coming back to purchase time and time again. The category has shown resilience during tough times and has shown it again during the current pandemic. Our advice to retailers is to continue to back the brands that you know your shoppers will purchase, ensuring you’re offering a number of more premium brands to add some sparkle.”

Claire James, Trade Marketing Manager, Haribo, comments: “To help grow sugar confectionery sales, we encourage retailers to ‘Select the best range’, ‘Maximise rates of sale’, use ‘Incremental space’, ‘Leverage new products’ and ‘consider Events and seasons’. We want them to SMILE!

“Retailers should always start by selecting and stocking the best range for shopper usage and consumption occasions. The focus should then be placed on maximising the rates of sale; this is achieved by creating displays that are clearly laid out. Here, retailers should prioritise availability, price marked packs and place best sellers in the most prominent positions – the ‘strike zone’.

“Additional displays should be your next consideration. Sweets are an impulsive category, so driving sales from secondary locations in store can help add incremental purchases. Next, we encourage retailers to leverage new products, which should drive extra purchases that sit outside of the existing range. Finally, use events and seasons to maximise sales with minimum risk but a great deal of theatre and fun.”

Shoppers look for best-selling products from brands that are loved, trusted and in a range of formats. Stocking products that support this drives consistent sales all year round, whatever the season.

“Shoppers are either purchasing ‘for me and for now’ or to enjoy with family and friends in support of sharing occasions, such as summer picnics and BBQs, Halloween or the ‘Big Night In’ when gatherings move indoors! This should be reflected in the range of formats available in store,” adds James.

Consumers also want the surprise and delight of having something new to try, especially with confectionery. Adding variety with new products and seasonal lines to the fixture will also uplift sales as the year progresses.

Haribo has recently added two new vegetarian sweets, offering greater choice for consumers and meeting the growing demand for vegetarian products.

New Haribo Sour Sparks offers a unique, chewy eating experience with a tasty, sour centre.

Haribo Starbeams has also been added to the vegetarian range. Appealing to consumers who enjoy a softer eating experience and a comforting treat, this is the first foam sweet to join the brand’s vegetarian range. Andrea Jessop, CEO of Moo Free, comments: “Free From chocolate is growing in popularity as it doesn’t just cater for those with allergies, but also for people who follow a more plant-based diet or are vegan.”

This year, 500,000 people signed up to Veganuary highlighting the popularity of this growing trend. The confectionery category has a strong place for growth in both these sectors. By selling products that are suitable for a range of diets, retailers don’t have to stock multiple items which can help save in-store floor space.

More than ever people are also becoming more aware of the food they eat and the impact it’s having on the planet. They are looking for easy and convenient swaps to make a difference, but taste is still a key factor. This is especially true for flexitarians, the UK’s fastest growing diet choice, who are introducing more plant-based products into their everyday consumption, like chocolate. Moo Free offers a selection of high quality, great tasting free from chocolate bars in a variety of flavours from Bunnycomb (vegan honeycomb), to white, ‘milk’, orange and salted caramel, ensuring there is a bar to suit every taste.



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