Gums and jellies now account for around 25% of sugar confectionery sales. According to AC Nielsen data, sales increased 4% in the past 12 months, which was slightly ahead of the sugar confectionery market as a whole.
Herwig Vennekens, managing director of Haribo, says his company’s top three selling lines - Starmix, Tangfastics and Kiddie’s SuperMix - have grown ahead of the market, up 5%, 11.2% and 8.7%, respectively.
"All three of these brands sell well in forecourts but despite their proven success we find that a lot of independent forecourt shops are still only stocking them when they are on promotion," he explains.
"Retailers are therefore losing out on the sales these brands generate all year round and that’s one of the reasons we think forecourts are not benefiting from the general upturn in sugar sales. Although the sugar confectionery market as a whole is growing, AC Nielsen figures reveal that forecourts have recorded a 1.5% decline in sales over the past year."
He continues: "Promotional activity at the point of sale provides a short-term uplift in sales and we’ve seen some terrific results in increasing weight of purchase when we do multi-buy promotions in forecourts, but even when our brands are not on promotion they are supported throughout the year by TV, cinema and radio advertising, consumer PR, covermount and sampling activity, and this is what is helping them maintain such a strong performance."
Vennekens says the profile and purchasing patterns of consumers in forecourts are very different to those of the supermarket shopper. "Whereas in supermarkets it’s largely mums buying for kids, the forecourt shopper is predominantly male and they are popping in to pay for petrol/pick up a paper/cigarettes/sweets so this needs to be considered when planning range and promotional activity.
"The perception is that gums and jellies are mainly consumed by children but they are also enjoyed by adults. While around 80% of children aged five to 15 enjoy eating gums and jellies, penetration levels among adults are only slightly lower, with seven out of 10 adults aged between 16 and 44 eating them and six out of 10 in the 44-64 age group continuing to buy into the sector."
There’s no doubt that Haribo’s regular multibuy deals offering consumers a choice of two family-size hanging bags for £2-£2.50 versus the usual forecourt price £1.49-£1.69 a bag are very popular with forecourt shoppers. Vennekens says: "This promotional mechanic is terrifically successful in increasing weight of purchase because the mindset of the forecourt purchaser is ’I might as well pick up two bags, and keep a spare one in the car’. When we’ve participated in these types of multibuy promotions, we’ve seen sales increase more than threefold during the promotional period."
As forecourt customers are usually in a hurry, Kate Harding, trade communications manager at Cadbury Trebor Bassett, advises retailers to make their promotions as easy to understand as possible, with simple mechanics such as ’Buy two for a special price’ or ’Buy one get one free’. "The design of the promotion should be clear and full of impact. If forecourt shoppers are in a rush, they will not take time to understand or read a complicated explanation and as a result, can often miss promotional communication," she says.
"Retailers need to stock up on promoted lines as shoppers are likely to become frustrated if they have bought into the promotion and then struggle to find the product quickly. We also advise forecourt retailers to brief their staff on the promotion so that they can communicate this to shoppers."
Haribo may be high profile in many forecourt stores but according to TS&A figures, Maynards Wine Gums is the number one sugar bag in the forecourt sector. Harding says it is important that forecourt retailers don’t forget bags when making their ranging decisions: "The bags segment has an 18.5% share of the confectionery category and it is growing at 3.3%, according to the latest MAT figures."
She says Cadbury has the largest share of hanging bag sales in forecourts with 34.4% of value sales.
However roll packs are still popular, with mint rolls accounting for 6.6% of forecourt confectionery sales and sugar rolls 5%. Harding advises that to maximise sales, it is important to merchandise them near the till. "This is where shoppers stand to make their fuel purchase, and products displayed at this point are highly visible. There is also the potential for rolls here for a link sale with cigarettes and/or news. Mint rolls optimise the functional need for fresh breath, while sugar rolls are often chosen by drivers to help aid concentration when driving."
Bep Sandhu, trade relations manager for Mars, agrees that stick packs are still very important for the petrol forecourt. "As with all countline confectionery they are key to the impulse purchase and are often sited in a different location to hanging bags, in high traffic flow locations. We provide our key brands in both stick and large bag formats, so people can make a choice in relation to their needs."
Gabrielle Bond, trade marketing manager for Bendicks, adds: "Forecourt retailers can maximise sales by stocking both bags and roll packs. Bags are usually a planned purchase so ensure they are prominent within the confectionery section. Retailers can also capitalise on impulse purchases with roll packs positioned strategically at point of sale in counter displays.
"In terms of trends, the summer presents a phenomenal opportunity for forecourt traders, as hard candy experiences a significant sales uplift during the peak travelling months of May to September. For example, sales of our Werther’s Original Butter Candy 150g bag hit close to £250,000 in one week in July last year alone."
=== Case study ===
Richard Campbell of Intake Developments has four forecourts; one in Mexborough and three in Barnsley. He says: "Confectionery is vital to our product mix and in the summer, from May to September, that means sugar confectionery. We stock Haribo, Werther’s Original and Fruit Pastilles all in bags plus we stock countline rolls all year round. I particularly like to buy bags when they are on promotion. Basically we buy them in cheap and pass on any savings to our customers. I go to Hancocks once or twice a week. I have a trailer and I load that up. I am always on the look out for end of line stock which I can sell on at a good price yet still make a reasonable margin on. We have a Haribo stand that we constantly have to refill. We sell the sweets for lower than their rrp because we buy them in at the right price.
=== What’s new? ===
* Haribo’s Sour Cherries, which are found in the Tangfastics bags, are now available in their own bag for a limited time. Two sizes are available - 160g, rrp £1.12 and 200g, rrp £1.39.
* New from Mars comes Starburst Twisted, which twist two flavours into one fruit chew. The flavours are strawberry & lime, cherry & lemon and blueberry & banana. The chews come in a 45g stickpack, rrp 36p and a 180g bag, rrp £1.25. The Starburst brand is backed by a £2m spend this summer.
* Walkers Nonsuch has recently improved the wrappers for its Andy Pack Original Creamy and Brazil Nut 100g bars. Packs feature a newly-designed logo and a panel promoting the fact that the toffee contains no artificial colours, preservatives or hydrogenated vegetable oils.
* Confectionery cash and carry Hancocks has launched a range of eight roll packs from Oatfield which the company says can give retailers profit margins in excess of 40%. Sweets include cherry drops, mint humbugs, chocolate limes, fruit drops and liquorice bon bons. Rrp is 25p.
* Wrigley has recently added two new variants to its hugely successful Extra range: Polar ice and Arctic ice. Both products have been developed to offer "ultimate freshness immediately", to neutralise strong foods and give long-lasting freshness even after chewing has finished. Also new from the chewing gum giant are the first ever fruity flavours for Orbit Complete - strawberry and lemon & lime, rrp 59p. These remain faithful to the Orbit Complete proposition, containing Xylitol to help reduce plaque and help prevent the risk of tooth decay.
* Leaf UK has repositioned itself as a ’healthier confectionery company’ by using healthier ingredients. Its latest launch is of three Chewits Truly lines, each of which have 30% less sugar than traditional Chewits. Chewits are now distributed in the UK by Bendicks.
* Cool cherry is the latest flavour to join the Tic Tacs range while the spearmint flavour is available in a larger pack. Tic Tac is backed by a £4m ad campaign during 2008 including sponsorship of My Name is Earl.
=== A sweet proposition ===
When it comes to who buys and eats confectionery, the figures make interesting reading.
Graham Walker, Nestlé UK trade communications manager, explains: "Women buy 66% of confectionery but eat just 38% of it; children buy 4% but eat 32% of it; and men buy 30% of it and eat 30% of it."
These figures obviously reveal the importance of women in the confectionery market and indicate the key role of mums. Says Walker: "It has become important for confectionery to be made as ’permissable’ as possible so that mums feel able to buy it for their families. And that’s why we’ve removed all artificial colours from our sugar confectionery and increased the amount of fruit juice it contains."
Key fruit lines from Nestlé are Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles, Fruit Pastilles blackcurrant & strawberry and Fruit Gums. All were given new packaging last year and Walker reports that they are selling "tremendously well".
With mints, Walker says Polo is bucking the downward trend in the market. The brand, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, is enjoying sales growth of 13% against a mint market that is down 3%. "We’ve not changed the pack or the product - instead we have been concentrating on its location in store; getting it as near to the till as possible," he explains.