Seasonal, novelty sweets flavor sales
Consumers still have a sweet tooth despite a sour economy. U.S. confectionery sales at food, drug and mass stores continue to grow at a pace of 4.2%, outpacing overall store sales, according to data from the National Confectioners Association.
Chocolate is the key growth driver, with sales up nearly 8% in the drug channel, according to SymphonyIRI Group data for the 52-week period ended July 11. Sweet and savory combinations are one of the segment’s top trends, according to NCA.
The seasonal segment accounts for 50% of confection sales for the drug channel. “More than half of Christmas candy dollars come from the gifting segment,” said Tim Quinn, VP trade development for Mars Chocolate North America. “Consumers can pick up a last-minute hostess gift or stocking stuffer at their local drug store.”
NCA spokeswoman Jenn Ellek said seasonal and novelty products offer retailers a big opportunity for higher margins. “This area is almost purely impulse, so retailers need to merchandise well and make an early commitment so they have the right merchandise at the right time,” she said. Ellek also said that sales of nonchocolate novelties were up nearly 11% in the drug channel for the 12-week period ended July 11.
Licenses — always an important part of the category — will see a boost this fall from the Blu-ray release of “Star Wars” and the release of one movie in 3-D in February. “CandyRific’s M&M’s Star Wars Lightsaber is our No. 1-selling novelty item in the United States, and Darth Vader and Darth Maul are the two best-selling characters,” said Rob Auerbach, CandyRific’s president.
The article above is part of the DSN Category Review Series. For the complete Candy Buy-In Report, including extensive charts, data and more analysis, click here.
Walmart tests no-frills format
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — The new Walmart Express concept is a further downsizing of Walmart’s supercenter and Neighborhood Market format, recently rebranded as Walmart Mart. The 15,000-sq.-ft. stores are no-frills affairs with bare concrete floors and open-rafter ceilings. From a shoppers’ perspective, the store experience is consistent with the look and feel of a supercenter — only smaller.
The merchandise mix is heavily oriented toward food and consumables, with typical Walmart departments like apparel and sporting goods missing. To broaden its assortment, there is an emphasis on Walmart’s Site-to-Store service, where it ships merchandise ordered online to stores for free. The jury is still out on the format’s potential impact on pharmacy, as the location in Gentry, Ark., contains a pharmacy, but another test location further south in the community of Prairie Grove does not.
The format opened in rural Arkansas communities in early June and in Chicago food desert neighborhoods later that month. Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., downplayed any expansion plans, stating that the supercenter would remain the mass merchant’s best vehicle for growth.
Ginseng Up prepares for U.S. launch
ROCKLEIGH, N.J. — In line with its full-scale, national launch, functional beverage brand Ginseng Up is debuting a new apple flavor.
Ginseng Up noted that its apple flavor consists 96% real apple juice blended with a touch of sparkling water. Sold in single-serve and in four-packs of 12-oz. bottles, the beverage also is available in more than 10 additional natural varieties, and is touting a new tagline, "the root of all power."
"With Ginseng Up, you get the best of both worlds," Ginseng Up president Vish Ganpati said. "By combining refreshing, all-natural fruits with the finest ginseng, we give consumers two good reasons to choose Ginseng Up: the taste, and the feeling you’re doing something really good for yourself with every sip."