Gummies Pack Muscle

This non-chocolate candy niche seems to have no trouble keeping in shape — by working in some new shapes and mixing up the routine.
Gummie candy may feel squishy and soft, but underneath it all, there’s some good, solid muscle. The candy industry continues to witness gummies’ good track record — especially when it comes to the branded batch of these gelatin-mix treats.
“We’ve had double-digit growth last year and the year before,” says Christian Jegen, president of Haribo of America Inc., makers of Gummi Bears in the golden box. “As a matter of fact, our branded line has been growing at double digits for as long as I can remember,” he adds.
From a similar perspective, “Gummies are a growing business line for our company and definitely still a very viable category from a numbers standpoint,” says Amita Mukherjee, marketing manager of Dayhoff, LLC. She maintains Dayhoff is “expecting 75 percent growth this year” in the category.
Haribo, which manufactures branded as well as bulk gummies, clearly makes a distinction in the branded side of things. “There are two perspectives to this industry, and the branded business is very strong and where we see the most potential,” says Jegen. “Bulk is much more price-sensitive. That’s just the nature of the beast.”
While gummi manufacturers know how to stick to routines that work (bear and worm shapes in popular fruit flavors have become category mainstays), they are also masters at keeping the mix interesting and the pot stirred — a must when marketing to kids. According to Mukherjee, “This category is still growing and quite rapidly — the important thing is to stay focused on kids and marketing effectively to them in a way that keeps parents happy.”
And so here are the latest variations to follow in category strength training.
Lift novelty and interactivity. Ford Gum’s Lunch Box Gummies brings a variety of food shapes, textures, and sweet and sour flavors to the gummi category. More importantly, it brings play value. “Interactive candy has been a big growth area of the novelty category, and our Lunch Box Gummies encourage kids to interact with the product,” maintains Laurie Lichko, director of marketing. “We know our young consumers like to play with their food.” In fact, the company has even imprinted “Play With Your Food” right on the side of the Lunch Box Gummies’ packages.
Pump up packaging. Ford Gum also took gummies “out of the traditional peg bag and put them into unique packages” — separate-compartment packaging, is how Lichko describes it. She believes that packages like this are what has created the novelty gummi category. “This adds value to the purchase,” she explains.
Theater-size boxes, exploding at retail in many candy categories, have not escaped the notice of gummi marketers. “We are totally on board with the theater-sized packaging,” says Dave Jupp, director of packaging and design for Imaginings 3/ Flix Candy, which offers both licensed and non-licensed lines of gummi candy. “The perceived value is all there, and the larger box gives us a better billboard for promoting the product on-package.”
Dayhoff, which claims to be “rather successful” with its peg line of 5 oz. Gummees, still “updates/improves our graphics every two to three years,” according to Mukherjee. In fact, Dayhoff has just added a “newly improved Juicee Gummee logo” to its packaging.
She foresees a trend to increase the value to consumers through packaging.
Build seasonality. Taste of Nature has taken licensed gummies into the seasons, particularly Christmas and Valentine’s Day, with its Care Bears Holiday and Care Bears Valentine’s Day gummi bears candies.
“The strategy is already paying off. We’ve seen excellent penetration and sell-through,” says Scott Samet, spokesperson.
Leverage licenses. And speaking of licenses, gummi candy and licenses are proving quite the match. Lil Bratz is the newest gummi license from Flix/Imaginings 3. While there will be more than one item in this line, “our first product to hit the shelves is Lil Bratz Candy Cool Sour Gummy Hearts,” says Jupp. “We have incorporated the popularity of sour, the favoritism for gummies, the heart shape associated with Lil Bratz, and the huge demand for Bratz products to make this an extremely sought after candy.”
And the company has combined the value trend with this candy, too. Lil Bratz Candy Cool Sour Gummy Hearts debut in a large theater-style box.
Sometimes, the popularity of licensed gummies can work in reverse. Flix Candy’s Nemo plastic “sardine can” of gummi fish was so popular, the company decided to extend its life even after the movie’s life cycle was over — by introducing a non-licensed version of the candy — Squishy Fishies. The candy also retained its play-value container to keep its novelty edge.
Define new shape. Gummies just wouldn’t be gummies without continual new shapes. Haribo is just about to launch its Centipede gummies, complete with “different flavoring and coloring that we’ve never done before,” says Jegen.
“We’ve all heard it before,” he continues, “but it will always be true — because we are marketing to kids, gummies need to be interesting and constantly changing.”
He adds that this is all for hype, however. “If you look at IRI numbers, it is the standard bears and worms that drive sales.”
But when it comes to promotion, new shapes get the spotlight. Dayhoff highlights its Juicee Gummee Frogees and Juicee Gummee Sharks as the latest additions to the line. “Brighter colors, tangier flavors, innovative shapes and a healthier outlook are all the trends moving forward for gummies,” says Mukherjee.
Work the health angle. Dayhoff is just one that has taken a healthier initiative in gummi candy. “Just like any other food category, the new health-conscious trend/attitude/awareness that is sweeping the nation provides an opportunity for gummi manufacturers to look for ways to differentiate their gummies in a way that appeals to moms and kids alike,” Mukherjee states.
Dayhoff maintains it has been conscious of this from day one. “Our entire line is made with real fruit juices — the number three ingredient.”
Haribo has seen an increased demand for its sugar-free bulk gummies in the past three months, says Jergen.
Because gummies are by their nature, a “fat-free food,” many companies are also playing up that angle on the packaging in an effort to contribute to a healthier awareness in candy.