What Retail Buyers Want: Everyday, Summer & Gourmet Candy  6/13/2017

As part of their preparation for ECRM’s 60+ EPPS meetings, retail buyers complete a form on the EPPS prep site, indicating the subcategories they are buying for, and on what areas they are focusing their buying efforts.

Based on this information, collected from just under 150 buyers and category managers attending ECRM's upcoming Candy Planning: Everyday & Summer Seasonal EPPS and Gourmet Confectionery EPPS meetings, here are a few key areas of interest:

‘Better-for-You’: Candy products made from natural and organic ingredients, as well as “free-from” products like non-GMO and gluten free. When it comes to candy, better-for-you may not necessarily mean "healthy," per se -- for example, the certified organic gummy bears I recently saw on the shelves of my local supermarket may not help someone lose weight, but they are made from ingredients that come from organic sources, and are marketed as better-for-you than non-organic.

Impulse Items: High unit-volume, low-retail, high-margin items that can be displayed at the front end or throughout the store on clips strips and shippers. Candy is a key item merchandised on the queuing merchandisers that are becoming more prevalent at retail stores.

Stand-Up Pouches: While bags and pegged products are still popular, stand-up pouches are garnering an increasing amount of space in the candy aisle – some in large sizes have even started replacing traditional lay-down bags in the candy aisle. An additional benefit of the pouches is that they are resealable, which make they good for on-the-go snacking.

Gift & Party Items: Candy or chocolate gift boxes are always popular, and variety or party packs, particularly those with a variety of smaller sizes, are great for parents who entertain their kids friends during the summer. Some buyers noted that they are looking for summer-themed gift sets at mass-market prices.

Don’t forget the grown-ups: Kids aren’t the only ones who like sweet treats, and buyers are looking to address the adult sweet tooth in their assortments, as well. Premium products are ideal for this demographic, and many retailers are merchandising them on end caps of the candy aisle – perhaps to catch the parents’ attention as their kids run up and down the selection of sweets.

Close-outs, Off-Price, and Opportunity Buys: At the other end of the spectrum, extreme value items and opportunity buys help continually refresh assortments for those retailers looking for a “treasure-hunt” experience that keeps shoppers returning to find something new.

Novelty: Unique and novel products and packaging have always helped drive candy sales (check out this interesting article about how this approach worked in the 1920s). Buyers want out-of-the box ideas that will scream for attention. And speaking of candy merchandising from the past, nostalgia is always popular when it comes to specialty candy retailers.

Private Brands: Merchandise across all candy categories that can be sold under the retailer’s brand.

Several of the buyers noted that they are looking for suppliers to offer fun, interactive and unique marketing ideas to complement their products, particularly digital and in-store promotions (especially if they can be leveraged against each other). For those buyers representing e-commerce retailers, the ability to drop-ship items is critical.

Sarah Davidson

SVP of Grocery

Sarah Davidson is ECRM's SVP of Grocery, and can be reached at 440-542-3033

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