Sugar confectionery is one category which is staying sweet despite the recession.

According to AC Nielsen data, it’s worth keeping those shelves well stocked as the UK sugar confectionery market is currently worth £738m, and growing annually by 4.2%.

Maria Moran, senior brand manager at Fox’s Confectionery, explains: "Luckily, confectionery companies are in the business of providing small affordable treats. While cuts may be being made elsewhere in the household budget, sweets are small indulgences, which offer a pick-me-up at relatively little cost. Therefore if retailers adapt their ranges to suit the economic climate, price point and value for money are key."

Jonathan Summerly, senior buyer at speciality confectionery cash and carry Hancocks, goes even further, saying: "Sugar confectionery offers pockets of much higher margins, less brand dominance, great variety, novelty and generally good profitability for retailers. In fact the slowdown has most likely given the category a boost as shoppers look to treat themselves more affordably and big players such as Woolworths have been wiped out, paving the way for smaller retailers to take up the slack."

Hancocks is predicting some "tremendous" confectionery sales this summer season - as long as independent retailers stock the right range. Summerly says: "The obvious sales opportunity is while on holiday, but this year many more people are likely to spend time at home too, perhaps doing the odd day trip and buying treats from time to time. A store that displays a good summer range stands to perform well."

The sharing bag category in general confectionery - as opposed to just sugar confectionery - also seems to be enjoying a boom period, growing at 7% and now worth £649m (Nielsen total market value sales MAT March 21, 2009). And kids and sugar-sharing bags account for the greatest proportion of sharing bag sales - worth £476m. According to Nielsen, in forecourts the sharing bags category is worth £30.4m, representing almost 20% of all confectionery sales (Nielsen total multiple forecourts March 14, 2009).

Kate Harding, trade communications manager at Cadbury, says: "With friends and families on the move over the summer, it is important for retailers to have a good range and full availability of the best-selling sugar bags and rolls so that shoppers can find their favourite treat for their journeys.

"Summer is a hugely important season for sugar bags which are a lot less messy than chocolate bags to have in the car while driving and provide stimulation on long trips."

All Cadbury’s sugar confectionery now comes in the hanging bags. According to AC Nielsen, Maynard’s Wine Gums is the top-selling sugar bag in independents, worth £3.3m and growing 6% year-on-year. Meanwhile, Bassetts Jelly Babies is also in growth, up 15% and now worth £2.4m.

Nestlé Confectionery says many of its most popular brands are available in sharing packs, including the Rowntree’s Pick & Mix bag, which is a selection of sweets such as Fruit Pastilles, Fruit Gums and Tooty Fruities; as well as Fruit Pastilles, Fruit Pastilles Blackcurrant & Strawberry, and Fruit Gums sharing bags (all with a rrp of £1.29). Added to this, in May the company launched Rowntree’s Randoms. Available in impulse bags, these jelly sweets come in a mixture of textures, flavours and shapes and are aimed at 16-24 year olds. The 50g bag has a rrp of 39p.

Wrigley’s latest line is Starburst Smoothies, which contain real fruit juice and have no artificial ingredients.

Perfetti van Melle - which makes Chupa Chups, Smint and Fruit-tella - has also brought out a new bagged range which it says offers consumers their favourite brands in a format that is easier to share and enjoy at home. New Fruit-tella Liquorice & Fruit sweets are individually-wrapped pieces which are half liquorice and half fruit chew. There is also Fruit-tella Juicy Gummies, which are chewy on the outside and have fruit liquid on the inside. All come in 200g bags, rrp £1.29)

The company’s marketing director Mark Stangroom says: "With more shoppers choosing to spend their leisure time at home, the new bag format range will serve as the perfect sweets to share during a big family night in. We are also really pleased to add two new products to the Fruittella range, providing an even greater level of variety on shelf."

Stangroom recommends setting up a separate children’s and novelty confectionery section - even if this is only a few shelves - to increase sales.

Emma Walker, marketing and export director of Walkers Nonsuch, adds: "The summer is all about days out and travelling and holidays, so sharing bags of sweets are definitely worth stocking."

Walkers has a 150g bag range in eight varieties, including assorted royal toffees, treacle toffees and nutty brazil toffees (rrp 99p).


== Impulse purchases ==


Sugar confectionery is generally an impulsive purchase - and not just during the traditional lunchtime or afternoon munchies slot. The latest research by Harris International Marketing (Him) reveals that the biggest time for impulse sales in the general confectionery category in forecourts is actually between 7pm and 10pm. According to Him’s Convenience Tracking Programme 2009, a quarter of all consumers who entered a forecourt between 7pm and 10pm intended to buy confectionery - but a whopping 40% of them actually did buy it. This compares to 24% intended and 34% actual purchases between 5pm and 7pm, and 23% intended and 32% actual between 12pm and 3pm. In addition, there was also a healthy opportunity for impulse purchases during the traditional breakfast period, with 18% intended purchases between 7am and 9am, and 26% actual.

Cadbury’s Harding adds: "As confectionery is a highly impulse-driven purchase it should be merchandised in the highest footfall area of the store, which is close to the tills. The best place to site sugar bags is on hooks in a dedicated hanging bags area and rolls should be close to the mint rolls on the main fixture.

"Over 70% of confectionery purchases are made on impulse. Therefore, it is important to maximise the visibility of the confectionery fixture by stocking the right range for your shoppers and highlighting the category with key brands and point of sale.

"For retailers looking to get the best sales from sugar confectionery, main brands like Bassetts and Maynards can signpost the category and should be used to aid shoppers’ navigation of the fixture. Strong point of sale that enhances the shopping experience for customers can be used to drive impulse sales. Multi-facing best sellers also ensures signposting and stand out as well as maintaining full availability."

Hancocks’ Summerley adds that local knowledge is the key starting point. He advises: "Draw a circle around your store and take a look at what falls inside it. If you have schools within your reach then think of developing your children’s range. Perhaps you are close to offices where staff nip out at lunchtime - understand what they might like to purchase. During the summer, is it families on days out buying treats for the car journey?"


== Get fresh ==


Tic Tac continues to be a popular impulse offering in forecourts. The brand has a new cool cherry flavour as well as a larger 100 pack. Levi Boorer, Ferrero’s head of customer development, says: "Pocket confectionery is currently in decline, however Tic Tac is one of only two mint brands in the top 10 which is showing growth. The new cool cherry flavour strengthens the Tic Tac brand with a second fruit flavour, further driving the growth that the brand has witnessed over the past year. The new 100-pack format available in fresh mint, lime & orange and spearmint flavours, is also an exciting addition to the range and is convenient to keep in the car or in your handbag while you’re on the go."

To conclude, Gareth Streeter, PR manager at Wrigley, says there is still plenty of opportunity for independent retailers in the sugar confectionery category. He adds: "Innovation remains the key to engaging with consumers and meeting their evolving needs. Our recent new product development includes the revamped Extra Ice mints and new Starburst Smoothies.

"During difficult economic periods consumers look to quality brands they can trust and enjoy, and with Starburst and Extra, Wrigley delivers on both accounts."


=== Top sugar tips ===

1) You need to attract the shopper and capture their attention before they even enter your store.

2) Confectionery can be a credible part of the ’Meal Deal’ promotional mechanic, therefore all food-to-go products should be available because out-of-stocks will affect confectionery purchases.

3) Focus on visibility in store to drive sales. Impulse price-marked packs and promotions help influence shoppers’ purchase decisions and deliver a value proposition.

4) Keep confectionery in easy reach especially when at the till area - Esso calls this the ’arc of ease’.

5) Make the most of cross-merchandising opportunities with associated products, such as newspapers and magazines.

Source: Him


=== What’s new? ===

l Cadbury is launching an on-pack promotion on Maynards, which gives shoppers the chance to win £100 instantly with each purchase of any Maynards products. There are 1,000 prizes available. The activity includes the on-pack return of the cheeky ’Hootsman’ character from the Maynards TV ad. Cadbury is also introducing a limited-edition Maynards Red & Black, which it says are many consumers’ favourite wine gums flavours.

l Hancocks has brought out a new pick and mix stand package designed for independent retailers. At just under a metre wide, Hancocks says the metal framed stand can house 20 slow close bins, has a bespoke-designed shelf to hold bags and scoops, and a storage area hidden away in the base. The stand costs £599 plus VAT and includes graphics and bins, 22 outers of top-selling weighouts (62kg) with a retail value of £427.80 (at 69p/100g), 500 bags and eight scoops. Hancocks has also relaunched its ’three for £1’ range - the bags are designed for the children’s market to provide controlled portions of weighout sweets.

l Walkers Nonsuch has launched peanut brittle and sesame crunch bars (rrp 25p). The company says the bars are packed with peanuts or sesame seeds (30%) on a base of milk chocolate. It has also relaunched its Pocket Creamy Toffee 50g bars in six varieties. Its main aim is to offer an affordable price point - the bars have a rrp of 30p - and to make the bars smaller for health reasons. With modern wrappers to target a younger audience, they are available in real treacle, liquorice, nutty brazil, and original creamy and, for the summer, banana split eclair and milk chocolate eclair.

l Novelty manufacturer Sweet Cred has teamed up with Welcome Break to revamp the confectionery displays on a number of its M5 sites. The space allocated ranges from one to three metres. Welcome Break’s category buyer Simon Taylor says: "I have been looking to reintroduce a children’s range into Welcome Break that gives us the right product in the right packaging at a strong retail price with impactful point of sale." The range includes mallows, gummy candy, boiled sugar confectionery, spray liquid candy, bubble gum and novelty related products.

l Earlier this year Cadbury replaced its Bassetts Fruit Allsorts with Bassetts Red Liquorice Allsorts, and introduced a new character on pack - Betty. Betty ’tied the knot’ with Bertie Bassett at the Bassett’s Factory in Sheffield to coincide with Bertie’s 80th birthday and Betty being chosen as the new face of the Red Liquorice Allsorts.

l Nestlé Confectionery has launched its 2009 ’Go Free’ promotion which offers families the opportunity to try out a range of activities for free over the summer holidays. Running across Smarties, Milkybar, Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles, Rowntree’s Fruit Gums and Rowntree’s Jelly Tots, as well as Nestlé cereal and water brands.

l Tic Tac has launched a new improved tree counter unit which holds its fresh mint and lime & orange flavours. The unit holds 72 x 18g units and the company reckons it can help maximise sales by as much as 161%.