Friday, September 19, 2008

Candy Still Sweet With Consumers

Many analysts have called the gum and candy category recession proof. Consumers who are watching their budgets will often allow themselves “mini-splurges” on impulse items like a Snickers bar or the new Starburst Gummi Bursts candy.

That’s why it’s important as ever for candy makers to continue to market themselves to this eager crowd looking for a treat. Companies like Mars, Inc. and the Hershey Co. spent about $900 million on traditional media between April 2007 and April 2008, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. (Plus another $1 million advertising online, per TNS Media Intelligence.)

The important aspect of any ad campaign for candy brands is differentiation, says Pat Conroy, consumer products practice leader at Deloitte, New York. “Consumers have access to more and more information, so then it becomes, ‘do I pay an extra 50 cents for a brand-name candy or buy a lesser one?’”

In one of the most high-profile candy campaigns this year, the Wm. Wrigley Co. tried to combine nostalgia and star power. It tapped pop superstar Chris Brown to re-record its famous jingle. The song “Forever” would go on to become a top-10 hit during the summer by borrowing the familiar refrain “Double your pleasure/double your fun.” In August, the song was repackaged for a massive ad campaign. Wrigley also had recording artist Ne-Yo redo Big Red’s “Kiss a little longer” jingle, and country singer Julianne Hough recorded, “The taste is going to move ya” for Juicy Fruit.

Tasty T-Shirts and Logoed Candy
For a smaller brand like the Jelly Belly Candy Company, it is less about signing high-profile stars and more about making its logo the star. The jelly bean company offers a host of logoed items available for sale in its company store.

“When consumers wear the branded clothing they take the name and populate the brand throughout the world,” says John Jamison, director of retail for the Jelly Belly. “It’s a happy brand and the logoed products keep the name on the tip of the tongue.”

M&Ms hasn’t been afraid to license its products. So much so, it has an entire store in Times Square full of dolls, banks and many other products based on the characters in its ads. The candy brand, which is owned by Mars, has even taken the idea of branding a step further by allowing consumers to place their own words, favorite sports team’s logo or even their own face directly on custom-made candy M&Ms.

“It’s not just about selling chocolate. It’s about building relationships,” says Ryan Bowling, a rep for Mars.

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