Thought Leaders Speak Out

What Do You Think About…?
In this issue Confectioner is introducing what we hope will be a periodic feature under the banner of “Thought Leaders.” The format is straightforward: We pose a question and ask for opinions — from individuals we know will have something meaningful to say.
For our inaugural foray, the question was the following: “What is the single greatest change you foresee for the business of candy retailing over the course of the next decade?”
“I believe the most significant trend in candy retailing for the next decade will be experiential retailing — essentially a more interactive experience for the shopper.
“We live in an Instant Entertain-Me! world, from instant messaging to channel surfing, and manufacturing retailers are already beginning to engage shoppers more with interactive retail experiences and chocolate cafés. Additionally, both savvy mass merchandisers and specialty retailers are using more in-store merchandising such as functional signage and shelf-talkers.
“I see these trends as only the beginning of a major shift in candy retailing — the shift to make the candy shopping experience as much fun as eating the purchases.”
Joan Steuer, president,
Chocolate Marketing

“Candy retailing is a trifurcated business — seasonal, front-end and in-aisle. Seasonal and front-end should continue to flourish, driven by their unique growth engines.  However, in-aisle is being challenged by two forces. First, the super-premium segment is very appealing right now. Second is the wellness movement.  
“For many shoppers, the traditional candy aisle has become dull at best, invisible at worst.  Retailers need to bring some excitement into this part of the store to keep the cobwebs from taking over. Special occasions should continue to call for moderate indulgence, even with increased awareness of wellness issues. The candy aisle needs to be connected to those occasions.”
Dan Raftery, president,
Raftery Resource Network

“Over the next decade a big change will take place in the candy category as retailers plan to deal with health and obesity issues. All trends point toward customers making healthier choices and concentrating on eating well and living better.
“Customers will always enjoy candy, but their habits will change. As a retailer, we need to make sure we are able to meet our customers’ needs by proper item selection and good merchandising tactics. Staying with the trends and always reviewing item mix will be more important than ever before.”
David M. Foley, category manager,
Big Y Foods Inc.

“Supermarkets are under attack from many fronts — more meals being eaten away from home, more professionally prepared meals [Seattle Sutton being one example], better c-stores, more club stores handling food, and dollar stores.
“As baby boomers retire, their desire to cook at home will diminish. When you add Wal-Mart building more super centers, the supermarket chain as we know it is in trouble. With fewer trips down the aisle, candy sales will suffer at supermarkets.”
Bill Kelley, vice chairman,
Jelly Belly Candy Co.

“Can you imagine the candy counter as a replacement for the pharmacy?
“Well, that may seem like a bit of a stretch, but it’ll be closer to reality than you may think. In the midst of a ‘nutritional correction,’ just about every food and beverage has found its health roots, and candy is no exception.
“Consumers are reading labels and learning about the health benefits of chocolate, starting them on the path that candy and health is no longer an oxymoron. Expect more candies to be used as carriers for all kinds of statins and other disease-specific remedies.
“The challenge at retail will be display and education — shifting the now-staid shelves into an educational ‘store within a store’ concept where customers will be choosing their own combination of great taste, indulgence and good health.”
Phil Lempert,
The Supermarket Guru

“Retailers will enjoy explosive growth in chocolate confectionery products. Sales and profits will expand significantly as news of the healthy attributes of the cocoa bean and chocolate confectionery spread through the media and manufacturers to consumers.
“This growth will benefit all brands and price levels of chocolate confectionery, but particularly premium, high-cocoa-content chocolate. All retail trade classes, from the convenience store and supermarket to the mass channels and high-end chocolatiers, will have the opportunity to ride the wave.”
Jim Corcoran, vice president of trade relations,
The National Confectioners Association

“With increasing demographic and lifestyle complexity, the underlying consumer trends such as wellness, convenience, enjoyment and sensory experimentation will continue to drive changes in confections retailing.
“The growth of enjoyment and indulgence edibles in an era of wellness and health-consciousness may seem paradoxical, but it is this type of consumer complexity that has given a phenomenal rise to consumer choices at retail. With increasing competition from other edible categories, a rationalization of consumer choices may become a mantra for many retailers and manufacturers.”
Navin Gautam, chief analytics officer,
Information Resources Inc.

“The single greatest change to the candy business that Sweet City is anticipating during the coming years is a change by vendors and acceptance by retailers to work with Dead Net Cost.
“Vendors must know how much they are to receive for products they sell! Retailers must know the cost of the products they buy! They only efficient way for this to happen is for vendors to sell at Dead Net Cost and for retailers to buy at Dead Net Cost. Vendors must mark up their product cost a known amount in order to stay in business. Retailers must make their profit by marking up their cost to a retail price that is competitive in the marketplace.”
Ron Bublick, president,
Sweet City Inc.

“For retailers: The expansion of self scanning will do what candy-free aisles couldn’t — negatively impact front-end sales. The retail challenge will be to break through the electronic distractions of self-checkout with more lane entry displays, store-wide merchandising and visually stimulating point of sale.
“For consumers: The yin and yang of instant gratification versus long-term wellness. Awareness of obesity — childhood and adult — will weigh more heavily on consumers’ thought processes causing the rational to hold sway over the emotional in more instances. Marketers will redefine candy as, not bad, but good for you.” 
Don Stuart, partner,
Cannondale Associates

What do YOU think?
If you have a suggestion for a question that you’d like to see us pose — or if you’d be willing to participate in our informal “Thought Leaders” poll, please let us know.
Simply send an e-mail to Confectioner Editor Mary Ellen Kuhn at or call (847) 405-4066.