According to research company Mintel, the "vibrant pack designs and lively marketing messages that characterise sugar confectionery" are in contrast to the market’s sales performance. It seems all is not rosy. While price rises because of more expensive ingredients have pushed up total value sales, volume sales have fallen due to worries about healthy diets and competition from rival treats. As for those value sales, Nielsen figures show the total sugar confectionery market to be worth £1.1bn, with growth of 3.6% (MAT March 9, 2013). However, it would appear that sugar lines lack sweetness for some forecourt stores.

David Leal, brand manager for Fruittella and Chupa Chups at Perfetti Van Melle, says: "Sugar confectionery sales are declining in the forecourt market whereas total market sales are growing, so there are clear opportunities for forecourt retailers to turn this decline around. The largest segment within the forecourt sugar confectionery market is kids’ confectionery but while this segment has grown in the total market by £12m over the past 52 weeks MAT, it has declined in the forecourt sector by 3.1% (SIG data). This indicates that there are opportunities for retailers to review their ranges and activities, and improve their sales. There is also growth in the whole market in candy countlines but this growth again is not mirrored in the forecourt sector where sales have declined in the corresponding period.

"However, good examples of where there has been brand growth in the forecourt sector in each of these aforementioned categories are Chupa Chups in the kids’ segment, which has grown by 34% in forecourts over the last 52-week period and Mentos, which has grown 4% against the declining trend (SIG).

"More forecourts seem to be introducing kids’ pocket-money options, hence the growth for Chupa Chups from SKUs such as its XXL lollipops and its convenience pack of five mini lollipops in a small bag. From Mentos’ point of view, the growth has come from rolls, of which mint and fruit flavours are the leading products."

Mentos is currently backed by a ’Shake Your Money Maker’ promotion where consumers have the chance to win £100,000. Running until August, the promotion requires consumers to buy one of a choice of different SKUs and then enter the competition via the Mentos Facebook page. Once there, the pack has to be shaken in front of a webcam and the prizes are revealed via augmented reality technology. In addition, Mentos will be supported by TV advertising as well as online and sampling activity.

Meanwhile, Perfetti Van Melle has launched Fruittella Magics candy that changes flavour as you chew it, going from orange to strawberry or raspberry to lemon. Magics come in bag and stick formats.

Changing flavours is obviously the latest trend as Wrigley has launched Starburst Flavour Morphs which, like Fruitella Magics, change flavour while you chew, this time from strawberry to strawberry pear; cherry to cherry lime; and raspberry to raspberry pear.

Matt Austin, European confections business director at Wrigley, says: "Research shows that consumers are looking for more than just taste and texture when choosing confectionery they look for excitement and stimulation too. New Starburst Flavour Morphs offer just that." He adds that they have already been a big hit in the US and Canada.

The launch will be supported by a £3m multi-media campaign for the brand that includes TV advertising, social media engagement, mass sampling at UK festivals, as well as a strong in-store execution to drive trial.

Wrigley also recently launched Skittles Confused where the colour of the sweet does not match the flavour inside so a red sweet won’t be strawberry flavoured. The company said its research found that consumers wanted to be entertained and with Skittles Confused, it was definitely entertaining them.

And the flavour mix continues with Mondelez’s Maynards Sour Patch Kids Soda Popz which come in five colour and flavour offerings. Cola, orangeade, cherryade, tropical and apple fizz all bring a tongue-twisting sour sensation, followed by a mouth-watering fruity flavour, so they end on a sweet note.

Pocket packs

Levi Boorer, customer development director at Ferrero, says having both mint and fruit flavours means Tic Tac features in the two largest segments of the pocket confectionery sector.

"With 40% of value sales going through impulse outlets and the remainder through the grocery multiples (Nielsen), it’s clear that the Tic Tac brand is familiar to a huge number of consumers, wherever they shop."

He says fruit is now the largest segment of pocket confectionery and sales are particularly high among 16-24 year olds. "Tic Tac has always been at the forefront of this category with its lime & orange variant, but the introduction of cherry passion has been a real success with sales now worth £3.5m, while the recently launched strawberry fields is experiencing strong volume and value growth, and is growing ahead of sugar confectionery (Nielsen).

"The introduction of these new variants is highly incremental, with the majority of shoppers only buying into their favourite flavour," continues Boorer. "For example, 71% of strawberry fields consumers do not buy any other Tic Tac flavours, while 62% of cherry passion shoppers only buy that flavour, so it’s crucial that forecourt retailers stock the full Tic Tac range of five flavours, in order to cater for all of their shoppers’ tastes."

He adds that forecourt retailers should also be aware that the past year has seen 23% growth in fruit multipacks within the impulse channel, demonstrating increasing consumer focus on value and the importance today’s shoppers place on local stores for their everyday convenience purchases.

A new strawberry fields take-home multipack has just joined Tic Tac’s existing multipack line-up of spearmint, fresh mint, lime & orange and cherry passion. And a limited-edition festival flavour is currently available in 18g and 49g pack sizes.

There are plenty of other new lines out this summer for you and your customers to try. Top sellers Haribo Starmix and Tangfastics have received limited-edition makeovers for the season. Blue’bear’ries, blueberry flavour blue bears have been added to bags of Starmix, while watermelon slices have joined Tangfastics.

Nestlé’s latest line is Rowntree’s Randoms Rip’Ems eight peelable strings in four fruity flavours (apple, blackcurrant, orange and pineapple). Each contains 25% fruit juice and no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.

According to IRI data, there has been significant growth within the sour (44% year-on-year) and foam (22% year-on-year) markets over the past year. Adrian Hipkiss, marketing manager at Tangerine Confectionery, says this has provided a key opportunity to launch a new product that taps into these trends.

The result is Wham Rocket, which combines sour raspberry sherbet with a foam dipping stick. "By taking the original tongue-tingling chew bar flavour and infusing it into sherbet, we have given Wham a new lease of life. Wham Rocket draws upon the popular ’dipping’ format of other sherbet-based products, but with a modern flavour delivery and true kid appeal," he says.

Moving on, and Rob Lewis, UK sales manager at Bazooka Candy Brands, says his company’s licensed line Moshi Monsters is a must-stock for forecourts. "Forecourt stores, for the most part, are dealing with parents as customers as they make a quick pit stop to stock up on goodies for a long car journey. Share bags are the obvious choice here and, given their free-from proposition, the Moshi range is the perfect choice for parents."

The latest sweets to join the Moshi line-up are Moshi Monster Sour Gummies. Like the original fruity yummy gummies, the new Sour Gummies contain real fruit juice (20%) and come in eye-catching bags.

Bazooka will continue its licensing links by collaborating with Universal Pictures film Despicable Me 2. The company’s Juicy Drop Pop, Mega Mouth, Big Baby Pop, Push Pop and Ring Pop will all receive limited-edition Despicable Me 2 packaging makeovers this month. For retailers, a bespoke range of free-standing display units and other POS material will be available.

Jonathan Summerley, purchasing director at Hancocks Cash and Carry says every brand is busy launching a bagged format for its sugar confectionery and with good reason.

"This is an area of the market that is seeing strong growth, especially at the £1 price point. The overall perception is that a larger £1 bag of a particular sweet is better value than a countline or stick pack format.

"The result is that branded sugar countlines around the 50-60p mark are seeing sales slow while larger bags selling at £1 are experiencing an acceleration in sales. Th`is £1 format can offer gradual treats throughout the day and be shared with family and friends. It is a format that shoppers have come to associate with best value.

"At Hancocks, we are seeing strong sales on the Haribo range of bagged sweets in addition to our own share bag range of favourites. Recently launched Swizzels Squashies is another example of a successful range, especially now that it has adjusted itself to suit the £1 market," he adds.

Finally, Golden Casket relaunched its £Onepounders range last year and has seen increased sales month-on-month ever since. With over 60 varieties all priced at £1, the company says the quality of the sweets is still its number one priority. The range includes chocolates, fudges, toffees, boiled sweets, chews, gummy lines and mints.

Its Millions brand has entered the £1 marketplace with its first hanging bags. These are available in 24- and 12-pack displays in the top two flavours: strawberry and bubblegum. A new flavour is being launched soon.

Top Tips for merchandising

Stock the best sellers as they will provide you with a greater rate of sale.
Stock a full range of flavours to cater for the majority of shoppers who only buy into one flavour.
Ranges need to be updated regularly to retain consumers’ interest.
Focusing on traditional and novelty sweets is worthwhile for attracting nostalgic adults and value-conscious kids.
Products are best displayed when grouped by product type and price points.
It is important to ensure that confectionery is displayed within a child’s ’eye-view’ ie not too high on shelf.
Multi-buy promotions eg ’4 for £1’ are popular with impulse confectionery shoppers.
Use hook-over units or counter-top displays to maximise the impulsive nature of the category by raising visibility.
Be aware of which brands are heavily supported by marketing or on-pack promotions as this will drive consumer awareness which you can translate into sales.
Source: Ferrero/Tangerine