Dispatches from NCA Miami Conference

‘Experiential retail’ can build confectionery brand loyalty

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Vice president Confectionery Senior vice president

Blow consumers away to raise brand awareness on social media. Cadbury chocolate fountain in Westfield Shopping Centre London. Photo credit: brandmagazine
Blow consumers away to raise brand awareness on social media. Cadbury chocolate fountain in Westfield Shopping Centre London. Photo credit: brandmagazine
Speakers at the National Confectioner Associations’ State of the Industry conference are making big noises about creating in-store experiences to boost confectionery sales.

Jeremy Gutsche, founder and CEO of Trendhunter.com, said: “It’s no longer about the product – it’s about the experience.”


Experiential retail, or ‘Shoppertainment’ as he called it, was seen by multiple speakers at the conference as a means to excite consumers and reach-out to younger generations who will share their experience online. It could also help to overcome the “bricks and mortar”​ image of supermarkets, said Gutsche.

He gave the example of Ikea having sleep-over parties in stores and generating buzz online, or Cadbury creating a Willy Wonka-style factory in a mall.

“winning with cool”

Larry Wilson, vice president of customer relations at the NCA, said that consumers wanted to be wowed and manufacturers should consider evoking feelings of nostalgia, such as a traditional sweet shop displays to help differentiate products.

He added that manufacturers and retailers needed to personalize the experience by selling ideas and not items, such as Dylan Candy Bar’s You had me at Hello or the traditional feel and style of Palmers or Rocky Mountain Chocolate.

Todd Hale, senior vice president of consumer shopper insights for Nielsen, said that confectioners should be “winning with cool”​ by creating experiences similar to Apple and Nike stores.

Print Cates, vice president of product management for J. Sosnick & Son, who worked at Powell’s Sweet Shoppe franchise, said: “Merchandising doesn’t start on the ground floor, it starts at the ceiling and it drips.”

Leverage seasonal

Mind-blowing displays may be all the more relevant for seasonal occasions.

Powell's Candy Shoppe seasonal
Seasonal displays must be show-stoppers: Powell's Candy Shoppe Valentine's display

Fred Morganthall, president of Harris Teeter Supermarkets said seasonal displays must be “show stoppers”.

Cates added that confectioners could leverage new seasons such as St Patricks Day or even local events such as football matches or proms. He called summer the “fifth season”​ and said confectioners should create an in-store genre for the period.

Hale said that simply putting a sticker on products to communicate an event such as the Superbowl could help drive impulse purchases.

Social media for The Millenials

Seth Mattison, ‘change agent’ for BridgeWorks said creating experiences was doubly applicable to the largest target group: The Millenials, the 82 million people born between 1982 and 2000, who are connected online and share their experiences.

Gutsche, said that turning retail into modern art can provoke consumers to broadcast on social media. 

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1 comment

Powell's Chico

Posted by Kristin Carlson,

Thanks for this awesome article! You featured some great quotes from our buddy Print and a cute picture of Powell's Sweet Shoppe Chico's Valentine's display. You can find us at Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest #PowellsChico

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