Confectionery consumers are looking for the best of all worlds.

New research from London-based firm GlobalData suggests candy and chocolate brands should develop unique and delicious experiences, but they should try to keep them healthy, too.

“A growing number of consumers are turning towards indulgent products that offer a unique and highly flavorful experience,” the firm said. “To cater to this demand, brands should take risks to explore new boundaries and markets in order to stand out from the competition.”

Premiumization in the chocolate and confectionery markets remains an important demand among all generations, GlobalData says, but Millennials “are more willing to indulge in new and novel consumption experiences.” Brands are also playing with texture to appeal to adventurous consumers. 

“It is clear that age plays an important role in the development and evolution of new and emerging trends, especially among younger age cohorts,” says Ramsey Baghdadi, consumer analyst at GlobalData. “Millennials appear to be the most dominant generation, consuming significantly more premium products than other generations. Brands need to think creatively and emphasize new textures to boost an enjoyable brand image for adventurous consumers and meet new consumer demands of uniqueness.”

Baghdadi also pointed to continued demand for confectionery products with cleaner labels, meaning no artificial colors and flavors, and no high fructose corn syrup, as well as non-GMO and organic designations.

“Consumer demand for more associations to natural ingredients has increased recently, which has led to brands to experiment with natural flavors,” he said.

Lately, Barry Callebaut has worked to stand at the intersection of premium, unique and healthy. In September, the Swiss chocolate and cocoa products manufacturer launched Natural Dark cocoa powder under the Bensdorp brand. Steven Retzlaff, Barry Callebaut’s president of global cocoa, said the goal was to create a cocoa powder that has a natural dark brown color and a rich, chocolatey flavor.

The company also launched WholeFruit Chocolate last month. Sweetened with cacaofruit — juice and pulp from the cocoa pod — it contains no added sugar, behaves like traditional chocolate and reduces waste in the cocoa production process.

 “Food needs to taste amazing just to be a proposition with any future,” Peter Boone, Barry Callebaut Americas ceo, told Candy Industry. “The fresh, fruity flavor we bring to all kinds of applications is part of our excitement. At the same time, it’s also nutritious – there’s fiber in there, there’s protein in there, there’s magnesium in there. While enjoying these products, consumers can do something for their health.”

Nestle SA is also playing in this arena, announcing in July it had created a 70 percent dark chocolate using cacao pulp as a sweetener. 

A recent launch from La Maison du Chocolat also comes to mind. The Bien Être collection features pieces containing turmeric, aloe vera, propolis, squash seeds, pomegranate and other health-associated ingredients incorporated into high quality chocolate.

Sure, it’s not easy to fulfill all these demands, especially at a cost consumers are willing to pay. But taking these trends into mind will help confectionery producers capture consumers' attention for years to come.