Candy firms must consider a fifth season and hit Halloween hard for 2013 as the year is set to harbor challenging volumes due to shorter holidays, the National Confectioners Association has warned.
In its Halloween 2012 Sweet Insights webinar, NCA urged manufacturers to start planning ahead for Halloween 2013 and invest in further strategies to drive business given challenges on the horizon.
Larry Wilson, vice president of customer relations for NCA, said it has never been more important for candy manufacturers to begin planning for next year.
“We do have some volume concerns for next year in 2013, specifically for Halloween, but also overall because the two largest seasons Easter and Christmas in this instance, will be shorter next year,” Wilson said.
‘Hit Halloween hard’ and more…
Wilson said industry must plan Halloween 2013 more robustly and better than ever before. “Halloween is the biggest season. Executing it with excellence is going to be really critical; working with retailers, brokers and manufacturers alike. Not only are we recommending that you hit Halloween hard, but that you consider things like a fifth season and leverage other candy occasions because we do anticipate volume shortfalls resulting from these shorter seasons.”
“Manufacturers must plan big, with the big guns,” he added.
Candy firms must bring options forward for retailers that are about value and convenience, he said. “It is not necessarily about price. Things like the larger pack sizes and multiples make a great deal of sense because they convey value.”
Wilson emphasized that snack pack sized candies remain critical to seasonal promotions.
Coming out of a ‘flat’ 2012 Halloween
Research presented in the webinar, showed sales of the 2012 Halloween period to be ‘flat’ and only just saved by a spike in the last week of the eight weeks ending November 4. “The final week was really what drove the season,” Wilson said.
NCA estimates suggested the 2012 Halloween period pulled in $2.4bn in sales. This compares to $2.16bn for Easter, $1.5bn for the Winter Holidays and $1bn for Valentine’s Day.
Wilson said that Hurricane Sandy had a big part to play in the season’s figures – impacting GDP and delaying celebrations in key regions – but that it was not the entire story.
Higher input and commodity prices also squeezed manufacturers, the vice president suggested.
Up against snacks
Wilson warned that the snacks sector posed an increasing threat to candy sales over the Halloween season, as some consumers swapped to ‘healthy snack’ alternatives to candy and chocolate.
“Candy really needs to be the star for Halloween… This is a period where candy needs to be at the front and center and snacks are gaining more and more of that attention. It is impacting overall business,” he said.