Bite-Sized Insights: Candy

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — As one category executive puts it: “Confection is still one of the largest and advantaged snacking categories” for convenience store retailers.

In the 2017 Guide to Candy & Snacks, CSNews editors provided the latest trends every c-store retailer should know. Here are the top five in confection:

The Sweeter Gender. When shopping at convenience stores, women are heavier candy purchasers, according to the annual Convenience Store News Realities of the Aisle Study. In 2017, females out-purchased males 68.8 percent to 60.2 percent, respectively. Similar purchase patterns were seen in 2016, when 72 percent of female shoppers said they made a candy purchase in the last month vs. their male counterparts at 61.6 percent.

Just a Bite. 2016 appeared to be the “it” year for bite-sized candy. Appearing on the scene in the small snacks arena throughout the year were: The Hershey Co.’s Hershey Bites, Pinkberry Bites by Big Sky Brands Inc., Mars Chocolate North America’s Twix Bites, Hot Tamales’ Licorice Bites, and Lindt Crunch Cookie Bites from Lindt & Sprüngli USA Inc., to name a few. There was also goodnessknows bars and Snickers Crisper, both from Mars Chocolate, which feature two and four pieces of bite-size fun, respectively.

Still in the Game. “Confection is still one of the largest and advantaged snacking categories,” Brooke Steeneck, senior manager, category strategy and insights, c-store, for The Hershey Co., told Convenience Store News, adding, “the growth of indulgent snacks and our own consumer research give us confidence that this category remains relevant.”

A Change of Heart. Following a year of lower expectations, convenience store retailers are more willing to count on candy. The percentage of c-store operators who expect their candy sales to increase in 2017 rose to 57.1 percent, a jump up from the 46.2 percent who said the same one year ago, according to the findings of the 2017 Convenience Store News Forecast Study.

Going Into Battle. The average U.S. consumer eats confectionery items twice a week, and the category makes up less than 2 percent of their caloric intake, according to research presented by the National Confectioners Association (NCA) at the 2016 State of the Industry Conference. Although obesity remains a major societal concern, rather than abolish sugar from their diet entirely, consumers recognize candy is always a treat. “There is a war on sugar, but there isn’t a war on candy,” according to NCA President and CEO John Downs.

For more Bite-Sized Insights, check out CSNews2017 Guide to Candy & Snacks.