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Independent candy firms thrive online despite mainstream e-commerce competition: It'Sugar

Douglas Yu

By Douglas Yu+

06-Oct-2016
Last updated on 06-Oct-2016 at 20:47 GMT2016-10-06T20:47:48Z

It'Sugar created presidential candidates-themed candy products to target the upcoming election and holiday season.
It'Sugar created presidential candidates-themed candy products to target the upcoming election and holiday season.

Independent candy retailers are surviving well in the increasingly crowded online space, even as confectionery giants, including Nestlé and Mondelēz compete for a sweeter spot on mainstream e-commerce channels, such as Amazon and Alibaba, says It'Sugar.

The company, a brick-and-mortar and online candy retailer in the US, says it has to avoid popular consumer trends to find its unique audience.

Speaking to the growing single-origin, bean-to-bar, organic and premium products in the confectionery space, the candy retailer’s director of marketing, Lauren Fleischer, told ConfectioneryNews, “At It’Sugar, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and neither do our customers.”

Offering exclusive products

It’Sugar was founded by Jeff Rubin, who also co-founded Dylan’s Candy Bar with Dylan Lauren, American fashion designer Ralph Lauren's daughter.

The company has established brick-and-mortar stores across the US, and it sells a variety of confectionery products online, including retro and international brands, such as Pocky, as well as its own branded products, including Dingle Bearies and Camel Balls.

Starting this month, the retailer started selling 'Beastmode' chocolate bars through an exclusive partnership with former football running back, Marshawn Lynch. Resonating with the upcoming presidential election and holiday season, It’Sugar also offers lollipop in the shape of Donald Trump’s hairdo and the One Scary Election candy range, including “Trump or Treat” candy pumpkins.

All these exclusive offerings have become It’Sugar’s opportunity to grow its online presence, Fleischer said.

“As we continue to see the growth of digital and e-commerce within the retail sector, we cannot deny the power of the internet on sales,” she said. “There is exponential growth opportunity for the confectionery industry to maximize and boost its presence online.”

Fleischer did not to disclose how much online sales contribute to It’Sugar’s overall business, but she said the company’s total revenue had increased from $43m in 2012 to $74m in 2015.

Creating instant gratification with daily updated web content

Online retailers have been driving impulse purchasing with various strategies, such as pairing relevant products through consumer data research ; this is especially important when it comes to candy and sweets sales, as most of them rely on impulse purchases, Fleischer said.

“It requires us to build our e-commerce business in a way that embraces planned purchases and gifting occasions,” she said.

With candy in particular, Fleischer pointed out, instant gratification is one of the biggest motivations for online purchases. However, it is not something that can be easily accomplished with online retail.

“It’Sugar is ensuring that the content it puts out on a daily basis, content that current and potential customers can’t keep to themselves, will shift that impulse mentality to capture online purchases from customers that need that special new products only we can offer them,” she said.

The larger, mainstream online retailers have their own place within the confectionery industry, Fleischer added, but It’Sugar believes that the niche candy retailers are able to continue to develop their own pipelines.

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