Case Study: Seasonal Candy & Generational Differences

Case Study: Seasonal Candy & Generational Differences

November 18, 2015

With the Halloween celebrations behind us and gearing up for the December holidays, seasonal candy is front and center in most grocery stores. Candy is an integral part of celebrating special occasions. For example, 86 percent of shoppers share or gift Halloween candy; 85 percent buy candy for the December holidays; 79 percent buy Valentine's Day candy; and 87 percent of parents buy or create Easter baskets for their children, of which 83 percent include candy. This makes any of these holidays great gateways to reminding shoppers and their children to enjoy in moderation.  

Many retailers offer dozens and dozens of seasonal items during the four big holidays. Seasonal items are often unique in shape, flavor, color or packaging. When buying seasonal candy, shoppers often purchase their own favorites, with 69 percent saying their personal preference highly influences the ultimate purchase. Additionally, shoppers keep an eye on price and take family preferences into consideration. More than four in 10 shoppers tend to buy holiday candy along with other seasonal items, such as decorations or costumes - making seasonal confectionery a great cross-merchandising opportunity. (Source: NCA Sweet Insights)

The four big candy holidays are important contributors to the category's success and the retailers' bottom line. Seasonal confectionery sales represent 17 percent of total annual sales, but delivered 32 percent of the annual growth last year. This is one of the reasons why retailers place a great deal of focus on seasonal candy in their advertising. Of all candy promotions in a typical year, more than two-thirds are run during the seasonal periods. In turn, the store's reputation for being the seasonal destination for candy and more helps leverage their positioning in everyday confectionery sales as well.

So, are all shoppers equal in their appreciation of candy canes, heart-shaped candy, or chocolate Easter bunnies? Not at all, it turns out. An NCA survey of more than 1,400 shoppers found that age, area of the country, gender and other demographics are driving quite a few differences. For instance, when looking at Millennials versus Boomers...

  • 42 percent of Boomers believe foil-wrapped chocolates are the best stocking stuffers, versus just 33 percent of Millennials who have a higher preference for boxed chocolate.
  • Millennials also like to use Christmas candy for baking, decorating and gifting much more than Boomers.
  • While Millennials like Valentine's just as much as the generations before them, they aren't into heart-shaped boxes and sweet messages like the Boomers. In fact, 45 percent of Millennials prefer sarcastic messages on their conversation hearts, versus just 16 percent of Boomers.
  • In their turn, Boomers are more into Easter than Millennials, but here too we see differences. Take a classic Easter egg. While Boomers prefer filled (45%) or solid (38%), 64 percent of Millennials opt for filled eggs.

While these are just some fun facts, these attitudes are also clear illustrations of the different wants and needs of the five generations we have in today's marketplace. Their needs for information are different, their ways of celebrating are different, and their attitudes to health and wellness are different. Understanding the shopper and the differences between the various shopper groups is as crucial as ever in our fast changing world! 

Halloween Recap Webinar Invitation: Interested in the full report on how Halloween candy played into the 2015 holidays, you are invited for a complimentary webinar viewing ($300 value) on Friday, December 4th at 1 pm EST. Contact Jenn Ellek to be registered.

For more information about NCA and to tap into more resources on candy’s role in a happy, balanced lifestyle, visit NCA’s website or contact Jenn Ellek.