Cocktail Candy: We're not marketing to kids

By Annie Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

Mascot bears hand out samples in nightclubs to appeal to an older audience, says Cocktail Candy makers Candy Pack
Mascot bears hand out samples in nightclubs to appeal to an older audience, says Cocktail Candy makers Candy Pack

Related tags Marketing

Belgian firm Candy Pack says it understands why some people might be "touchy" about the idea of alcohol-themed confectionery, but insists it isn't targeting children for its Cocktail Candy range.

The company says it is expanding production capacity for the range, currently available in daquiri, mojito and pina colada flavor.

The soft candies may be non alcoholic - with large '0% alcohol' labels on the front of the packaging - but Francois Plunus, business developer for the firm, said he could understand why some people might take issue with the concept, something the company has taken heed of with its marketing campaigns.

"The big problem for us is not to make the consumer think we want to target children with alcohol - which is really bad, we know that. But that's not our target,"​ he told ConfectioneryNews at the industry event SIAL in Paris this week.

He said adults and teenagers were consuming candy, and this market was currently under-catered for by the big players. 

Adults only

Asked how the firm might prove it was not reaching children if challenged, he said it used competition games with rewards like a trip to New York that were clearly more appealing to adults, adding: "A little child doesn't want to go to New York."  

In addition the company promotes the candy in nightclubs, where its mascot bear hands out samples beside the DJ booth.

"We promote the brand in places where there are adults and teenagers, not children," ​said Plunus.

The firm launched the product in Belgium in June, and since then remained within the Belgian market due to a large contract there. However, he said with a recent investment in machinery, the firm would have the capacity to branch out to other European markets, in particular France, and the US by the end of the year for which it was searching for distributors to continue its marketing strategy.

However, Plunus conceded that the US, with its legal drinking age of 21, presented a challenge in how it could market the product effectively and responsibly.

"We have to discuss this problem maybe. Actually I don't know, so we will see."

Whiter than white, standing out from the crowd

He said Candy Pack Belgium was a small company, acquired five years ago by a large unnamed company, and for this reason it had to find its unique selling point to compete with bigger players with their adult-targeted luxury and indulgent concepts while keeping within its comparatively small marketing budget.

Part of this strategy was the alcohol concept, which he hoped would generate online interest. "With this concept, maybe with the buzz on the Internet and all the other different communication we can easily reach our target with a smaller budget."

On shelf this would be helped by the use of white packaging, he said, which would be eye catching next to the typically colorful competitors. 

He said the target audience of teenagers and adults would also appreciate the product's resealable 150g bags since this population looked for the option of portion control.

Indeed he said the packaging was often taken as a starting point for them in product development, with concepts coming second.

Tipple of choice

The company will be launching three more flavors at next year's ISM, but he declined to give details of what those might be.

He did say however that there were endless possibilities for alcohol-inspired flavors, and cited the example of US company Jelly Belly's launch of beer-flavored jelly beans​ earlier this year, sold as a single flavour only - as opposed to included in mixes - and marketed to over-20s. 

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