Talking to Consumers

by Renee Marisa Covino
Confectioner’s exclusive consumer research sheds new light on how health concerns affect candy consumption.
Jessica, like many Americans today, is trying to lose weight. As part of her own diet plan, Jessica, who is married with no children, is consuming less candy and chocolate lately, but she says she’ll never cut it out completely.
“I read that chocolate has a calming effect, especially on women,” she says. “It also gives our endorphins a kick. That’s a good enough rationale for me. So now that I’m eating less of it, I buy the better brands. Godiva and I are very good friends.”
Vernon, who is retired and regularly baby-sits his five-year-old granddaughter, has also started eating “better chocolate” in the past 12 months. “I’m a health-conscious individual who loves chocolate, but until recently, I almost never ate it,” he says. “Now, ever since I read that it’s good to have a little chocolate every day, I eat two squares daily. I’ve probably eaten more chocolate in the past year than I have my whole life.”
Jessica and Vernon are just two of the many confectionery consumers who have recently altered their candy consumption habits as a result of health and diet concerns. According to Confectioner’s just-released “2004 Chocolate/Candy Purchasing Survey,” shifting diet trends have had a big impact on the category. This exclusive consumer research study shows that health concerns are the main reason why consumers have curbed their appetite for both chocolate and non-chocolate.
On the other hand, there are those who are delighted with the news that chocolate can be good in moderation. One in five survey respondents mentioned the health benefits of chocolate — particularly dark chocolate — as the reason why they were spending more on chocolate in 2004 over 2003. And 17 percent of consumers are buying more premium chocolate this year. Interestingly, 24 percent of carb-counting consumers say they’ve increased their consumption of premium chocolate compared with 13 percent of those who are not carb-conscious.
When it comes to kids, health concerns are a big reason why parents are restricting the amount of candy their children consume. Aledria, a mom with six children, believes chocolate is her “little piece of heaven.” Nevertheless, she rations out “a few M&Ms at a time” to her four oldest; her two youngest aren’t allowed candy at all yet.
Aledria is far from alone. A total of 49 percent of Confectioner survey respondents said health concerns are the reason why parents should restrict the amount of candy their children consume.
Carb-counters, a growing population today thanks to the popularity of high-protein diets, were singled out in the study. It found that they were the most likely readers of nutritional information.
Whether or not the changing candy habits of consumers will stick is anybody’s guess.
“While this low-carb obsession has gone further in the market than I thought it would, my personal diet attempt lasted all of a month maybe,” Aledria says candidly, her comments underscoring the way in which consumer attitudes and behaviors fluctuate.