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How Candy Brands are Connecting with Consumers this Summer

  • Rob Patterson

Though many Americans have declared war on sugar in recent years in an attempt to adopt a healthier lifestyle, that doesn’t mean all sugary items have suffered. According to Nielsen sales data, candy and chocolates grew 2.5% and 2.8% in 2019, respectively. While the growth itself is modest, it goes to show that candy’s place in consumer routines remains secure.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented its share of challenges to businesses in every category, and that includes candy. Ninety-seven percent of candy is still sold in physical stores, and the decrease in store traffic reduces the number of chances to win over consumers.

In addition to that, candy is somewhat seasonal in nature. While some consumers purchase candy throughout the year, the majority of sales occur around occasions like Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, and the December holidays. For brands, that leaves a huge portion of the calendar to establish and maintain relevance with consumers. With June serving as National Candy month, let’s take a look at how brands are doing just that.

 

Hershey’s S’mores Saturdays

Last year, Hershey’s kicked off its “S’mores Saturday” campaign and threw a block party in a New Orleans neighborhood that brought together a community where many didn’t know each other. With the pandemic preventing an in-person gathering of such scale this year, they’ve shifted course.

 

S'mores are a summer favorite for consumers of all ages

 

To bring attention to the case displays of Hershey’s, Honey Maid graham crackers, and Jet-Puffed marshmallows popping up at participating grocers, Hershey’s is running a summer-long sweepstakes that gives shoppers an opportunity to win backyard makeovers (either $5K or $25K in value) or a s’mores mobile experience. The idea not only accounts for the unique nature of this summer – with most Americans spending more time on the home front – but also captures the feeling of nostalgia that comes with s’mores. With 71% of American consumers saying that they enjoy things that remind them of their childhood, it’s sure to be a hit.

 

Skittle Aligns with Pride Month

Every June, we see brands temporarily adopt rainbow logos or Pride-focused packaging in an attempt to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community. This year, Skittles, the brand commonly associated with its rainbow-colored candies, is taking a different approach. In partnership with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the Skittles “Give the Rainbow” campaign is removing color entirely from the candy packaging in order to draw attention to the “only rainbow that matters in June.” Additionally, with  LGBTQ nonprofits struggling due to lost income from the pandemic, the brand is donating $1 to GLAAD for every Pride Pack sold.

In doing so, the brand is drawing attention to a cause that may not be at the forefront of consumer minds given the circumstances of this year. Likewise, Skittles is establishing relevance and a new occasion for consumption during a time of year where candy sales are more stagnant.

 

Looking for Outside Inspiration

It’s not just candy brands looking to stay top-of-mind at this time. Ben & Jerry’s partnered with Netflix to create a new ice cream flavor called “Boots on the Moooo’n” as part of a joint release with the new comedy series, Space Force. This is the second partnership between the ice cream makers and the streaming service giant, with “Netflix and Chill’d” receiving a strong response earlier in January.

For Ben & Jerry’s, the partnership allows the brand to associate with the show without product placement within it. With candy having such a strong tie to the movie-going experience, brands could seek out similar partnerships in order to appeal to consumers who have been dialing up the streaming services while staying place at home.

Is your brand looking to make connections with candy consumers throughout the summer season? Contact us today to learn how we can build brand experiences that drive awareness, encourage trial, and earn lifelong loyalists.

 

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Sources: “U.S. Confectionery Industry.” NCA (2019), “Hershey’s Keeps Summer Going at Walmart.” Path to Purchase IQ (2020), “Skittles Goes Colorless, Giving Up the Rainbow for LGBTW Pride Partnership with GLAAD.” Adweek (2020), “How America Will Eat.” Nielsen (2019), “Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Blastoff.” Gartner (2020).