Bring on the Beans

Ever-changing flavor assortments, new packaging formats and well maintained bulk displays can all contribute to jelly bean success stories.  

From sour to sugar-free, there’s a jelly bean for just about every consumer taste preference.
And speaking of sour, by the way, that remains one of the hot-button segments of the category, with interest in sour flavor profiles broadening to include more extreme flavors as well. As for sugar-free, that’s an emerging jelly bean niche that may widen if sugar-free becomes an attractive alternative to the millions of Americans who are pursuing low-carb lifestyles, in addition to those with a need or desire for no-sugar products.
Overall, the jelly bean category breaks out into three key sub-segments: value-priced or commodity; branded beans (which carry the brand label and taste profiles of many leading non-chocolate confections); and finally, the top-tier – gourmet jelly beans.
The Imperatives
Jelly beans tend to be an impulse purchase so sales are triggered by in-store displays and attention-grabbing point-of-purchase materials including danglers, wobblers and headers.  
Retailers need to work with vendors to determine an appropriate set size and a flavor assortment geared to the demographics of the store’s neighborhood. In-store sampling often is an effective sales-generating tool.
Bulk display fixtures show off large flavor assortments to excellent advantage. It’s important to keep the bulk displays clean and well serviced, of course.
Jelly bean consumer demographics vary, depending on the sub-segment. Kids often are the primary consumers of lower-priced, commodity-type beans. For more gourmet jelly beans, the consumer profile skews toward teens, younger 20-somethings and also empty-nesters — those discriminating older consumers with the discretionary income to treat themselves to something special. With such a diverse target audience, flavors span a broad spectrum as well. Everything from earwax to cappuccino flavors are available.  Bottom line: Gourmet jelly bean consumers — whatever their age — are people who enjoy flavor variety and authenticity.
In the past decade, bulk jelly bean displays have moved beyond the specialty store arena into the supermarket channel with more and more frequency. Now vendors see significant additional opportunities in drug, mass and convenience channels.  
Traditionally associated primarily with Easter, jelly beans’ purchase and usage occasions have expanded to encompass the entire year. A leading gourmet jelly bean maker reports that seasonal sales account for less than 20 percent of total sales volume. For that vendor, Christmas follows Easter in seasonal sales volume. Valentine’s Day is next, and, not surprisingly, Halloween substantially lags the other holidays. In general, branded and gourmet beans dominate in terms of everyday sales, while the commodity offerings sell best during the Easter season.

Merchandising Musts
They’re beautiful in bulk.
Their many bright hues make jelly beans naturally eye-catching. So show them off in an attractive bulk fixture with clear bins. Gravity-fed dump dispensers are optimal because they’re more hygienic than scoop bins, and they’re easy to maintain — particularly for those retailers who opt for vendor servicing of the bulk display.
Label prices for bulk beans clearly.
It can be a good idea to display prices per pound, half-pound and quarter-pound.