5 key ways confectionery brands can improve in-store strategy

Discover data-backed methods for boosting sales.

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Nat rep survey of 1,000 working-age US consumers conducted on Attest in August 2023.

High food prices are squeezing American consumers, and the sweet snacking category is by no means immune to the tough trading conditions. Improving in-store strategy is necessary for all confectionary brands but what actions will have the most impact on sales? We surveyed 1,000 US consumers to find out.

Before we dig into the 5 key strategies we’ve identified, here are some other interesting nuggets to arise from the data:

  • Sweet snacking frequency remains high – consumers are most likely to say they eat 10 or more sweet snacks per week and consumption is similar among different age groups.
  • Price is more of a concern than health or weight control. Healthiness is the least important factor in sweet snack selection and most people don’t consider nutritional values.
  • Walmart is the top store for buying sweet snacks (77.6%) of consumers shop there, while Target is second-most popular (38.3%). 
  • The top 4 sweet snack brands are Hershey’s, Oreo, Reese’s and Snickers.

5 things to think about for your in-store strategy

1. Pricing keenly against competitors

Getting your pricing right is essential in the current economic environment. US consumers say the price of a sweet snack is just as influential as their appetite when it comes to what they purchase. What’s more, they rank ‘budget’ as the main factor preventing them from consuming more sweet snacks. 

Brands who fail to price keenly enough risk losing customers to competitors – especially supermarket private-label brands. More than 62% of shoppers say they are likely to purchase cheaper versions of well-known sweet snack brands.

Candy in-store strategy

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2. Designing shelf sets with demographics in mind

Chocolate or gummy candy? What you choose may depend on your age. Consumers under 40 are twice as likely to purchase gummy candy than their older counterparts. Gen Z are especially partial to gummies – they’re the only age group who would choose this type of candy over chocolate. 

Our data also suggests a male/female split when it comes to preferred sweet snack types. Women love chocolate while men over-index for cookies and gummy candy. Understanding who’s most likely to buy your product, alongside the customer profile of different stores is important for designing appealing shelf sets. 

3. Adapting distribution to target audiences

Although most sweet snack purchases are made in the supermarket (84.4%), there is notable variation between demographics. Younger shoppers buy sweet snacks at a more diverse range of outlets than older consumers, with a higher likelihood to shop at convenience stores and gas stations. Men also over-index for buying outside the supermarket. 

We also see that sweet snack availability is more of an issue for consumers under 40. More than 42% say they are ‘often’ unable to purchase their sweet snack of choice, versus 28.6% of shoppers over 40. This is likely because of their increased propensity to shop in smaller stores.

candy distribution channels

We’ve been working with Attest for a year and having these surveys has been an absolute game-changer for us.

Emily Jones, Category & Shopper Strategy Manager, Premier Foods

4. Optimizing for impulse purchases and influencing appetite

Impulse and appetite play a big role in the purchase of sweet snacks. Nearly 28% of consumers say they mostly buy sweet snacks on impulse, while a further half say their purchases are split between impulse and planned. Gen Z over-index for mostly buying on impulse (34.1% versus 24.9% of Boomers).

Meanwhile, appetite is ranked as the joint first influencing factor in sweet snack selection (alongside price). With this in mind, brands should consider out-of-home advertising in the proximity of stores, and location-based marketing to deliver promotions to shoppers’ cell phones.

Candy consumer research

5. Improving layout and signposting

How easy is it for shoppers to find your products in store? A quarter of US consumers say they have difficulty finding the sweet snack they’re looking for among the assortment. Meanwhile, 21.3% say they often struggle to find the sweet snacks section in stores. 

Shoppers under 40 seem to have more trouble locating their sweet snack of choice than their older counterparts. More than a third struggle with the shelf assortment versus 20.7% of consumers over 40. Likewise, 30.2% of Millennials and Gen Z have difficulty navigating to the sweet snack aisle versus 15.9% of older shoppers. Because younger shoppers are more likely to shop for sweet snacks in a greater variety of places, they might be less familiar with the layouts. 

The insights have been invaluable. I’ve used Attest to understand which messages resonate most with consumers.

Rebecca Porter, Consumer Research Manager, Walgreens Boots Alliance

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