Sold-out event delivers fourth straight year of increased attendance, exhibitors
Candy and snacks are big business in the retail world, as evidenced by the 15,000 industry professionals who attended this year's National Confectioners Association (NCA) 2013 Sweets & Snacks Expo. The sold-out show took place in May at Chicago's McCormick Place.
In addition to a 10-percent rise in attendance, NCA said this year's event saw impressive increases of 9 percent and 17 percent in square footage sold and new exhibitors, respectively.
Attendees were treated to several keynote presentations, including one that delved into the emotional drivers that influence candy and snack purchases. Suppliers and retailers alike must understand not just business and data, but the heart and the power of want, said speaker Dina Howell, worldwide CEO of shopper marketing network Saatchi & Saatchi X.
"Don't lose sight of the emotion. Don't lose sight of why people love this business," she said. "Focus on the wants. Focus on people's desires. It is amazingly powerful what that will do."
Howell discussed the ways candy can evoke memories and strong responses even decades down the line. She also illustrated how consumers' levels of respect and love for a product determine how substitutable it is and how long-lived it is likely to be.
Companies should adhere to three principles of understanding: truly knowing the market/culture, knowing the retailer/channel and knowing the shopper. This helps a product transition into what Saatchi calls a lovemark, or "a product, service or entity that inspires loyalty beyond reason."
Along this same theme, expo attendees got to vote on the new candy and snack products they believe stand a good chance of achieving long-term success as part of the Most Innovative New Products Awards. Winners were recognized in eight categories:
- Novelty/licensed: Tabasco Jelly Beans; Jelly Belly Candy Co.
- Chocolate: Kit Kat Minis; The Hershey Co.
- Salty: Pomegranate Pistachios; Sahale Snacks Inc.
- Gourmet/premium: Milk Chocolate Red Velvet Cake Bar; Hammond's Candies LLC
- Seasonal: S'mores Big Bite Bars; Russell Stover Candies
- Sweet: Marshmallow Sugar Cones; Sprinkle It On
- Non-chocolate: Coffee Thins; Tierra Nueva
- Savory: Fire Corn Popcorn; Pop Gourmet Popcorn LLC
These eight winners were selected from 40 finalists chosen by a panel of industry experts who evaluated packaging, go-to-market potential, taste and innovation.
New products also shined on the show floor, which this year featured the addition of such big-name brands as Frito-Lay's Cracker Jack and Unilever's single-serve frozen novelties. The expo floor also had the strongest international presence ever, with a brand-new Ecuadorian pavilion joining the returning Brazilian, Chinese, German and Mexican pavilions.
National Confectioners Association 2013 Sweets & Snacks Expo
May 21-23, 2013 Chicago