Licorice: More Luxurious?
The category seems to have more adult allure.
Even in the days of penny candy, licorice has been a core confectionery item, and chances are, it will remain so for quite a long time. But recently, there has been a more upscale marketing push, which seems to be garnering incremental adult sales and shaping a more diverse twist to licorice.
For the 52 weeks ending Feb. 20, 2005, licorice boxes/bags greater than 3.5 ounces amounted to a $154 million category across food, drug and mass retailers excluding Wal-Mart, according to the latest data from Information Resources Inc. Overall, the category saw a 3.5 percent dollar sales gain and a 3 percent unit sales gain across the three channels vs. year ago. Of those three channels, drugstores were the most impressive “gainers” in the category lately, experiencing a 10.7 percent dollar sales increase (totaling $42 million) and a 12.4 percent unit sales increase for the same 52 weeks ending Feb. 20, 2005.
But what IRI does not track is the fact that some of the specialty retail players such as Cost Plus and Trader Joe’s have boosted items like licorice to a new level, thanks to more adult packaging (tubs and tins) and flavors that focus on a more sophisticated palate (original and all-natural black licorice). Those trends are just starting to trickle down to the mass level.
Naurally good
New World Marketing, which manufactures Panda brand licorice bars, chews and comfits (small and perfumed licorice bites), appeals to the adult consumer with ingredients such as molasses, wheat flour, licorice extract and anise oil. Products are also touted to be “all-natural” and “kosher.”  The company plays upon the idea that mankind has used licorice for thousands of years, and it was thought to prolong life and endow strength. In addition to its all natural varieties, Panda licorice is also available in licorice raspberry flavors (chews and bars) and licorice herbal chews.
Adding some snap!
American Licorice is appealing to the nostalgic side of adult consumers. The company has recently brought back its original Snaps licorice brand due to “tremendous consumer demand,” according to the company, but with an updated twist—a new Snaps tin. With a suggested retail of $5.99, each Snaps tin displays “dynamic graphics with a great nostalgic look and feel,” is topped with a lid embossed with the Snaps logo, and contains a 12-ounce bag of Snaps. Snaps also are available in hanging bags, count goods and theater boxes.
Individually wrapped licorice in bulk displays is another way the category has grabbed adult attention, and Kenny’s Candy Company is adding new flavors and expanding its offerings of individually wrapped product. “We feel there is great opportunity in individually wrapped bulk items since adult consumers are more conscious about cleanliness and sanitation and the take-along aspect of treats,” says Shane Kangas, vice president of sales and marketing.
The company has also re-launched its 10-ounce Juicy Twist product line with completely new film and graphics for more overall consumer appeal. “Our pineapple bag has pictures of real pineapple on it, the green apple bag has pictures of real green apples on it, and so forth,” says Kangas.
Where retailers go with some of these new “twists” to licorice is up to them. “The category is definitely becoming more diversified,” maintains Kangas. “But I would like to see more retailers allocate space for more variety in their licorice section from the smaller players,” he adds.