They came, they saw, they tasted.
Dozens of children, ages 8-13, were invited to become junior candy buyers by sampling various candies at ECRM’s Confectionary Efficient Program Planning Session (EPPS) in Dallas. The junior candy buyers were given an inside look at the confection industry from retail buyer attendees that included convenience stores and cross-channel operators like Save-a-Lot and Walgreen’s.
Several manufacturers attending the show also donated products for sampling. The children were then given the opportunity to see the buying and selling process firsthand by the various manufacturers attending the event.
After the group learned about the candy industry, they were able to choose their favorite product from the more than 30 brands they sampled. The children had varied responses, but selected Innovative Candy Concepts’ Too Tarts Sugar Free Spray Candy as their favorite product. The baby buyers commented the candy was tasty and fun to use, but they were most likely unaware their choice was sugar-free and made of 67% real juice. The second favorite choice was Fun Sweet’s Cotton Candy, which comes in two varieties, Vanilla Cotton Candy Snowman and Halloween Cotton Candy.
In addition to their favorites, the majority of the children raved about sour candies as their preferred choice over other varieties. That children preferred sour candy is not necessarily news. That they preferred sugar-free candy could represent a shift toward healthier buying patterns both by parents and children themselves, said Armand Hammer, president and CEO of Innovative Candy Concepts.
“We have seen a large increase in our same-stores sales since we went sugar-free, and that comes amid our first price increase in seven years and the poor economy,” Hammer said. “This tells me two things. First, parents are very involved in what their children buy and what they’re buying for them. And second, that adults do not give enough credit to how smart these children are. Time after time, manufacturers think if they put a fancy label on candy that children will buy it. That’s simply not the case.”
“The bottom line,” Hammer added, “is that c-store buyers are concerned about sales and more retailers should be pushing healthier children’s products, especially as they are proving to increase overall sales.”