Unreal Candy launched in 2012 with ambitions to take on the industry’s biggest players in the biggest retailers with ‘unjunked versions’ of classics such as M&M’s and Reese’s.
The company now plans a more nuanced approach after conceding it entered the market “too hard and too fast” without counting on the brand power of Mars and Hershey.
Natural and better-for-you aisles
“Now we’re focusing much more on natural channels,” Amanda Reiss, chief marketing officer at Unreal Candy told ConfectioneryNews.
Unreal Candy re-launched in October last year in the natural aisles of Kroger stores. It has now secured distribution in the better-for-you area of Super Targets and select Whole Foods outlets, taking the brand’s reach to over 1,000 stores in the US.
The company will never rule out retuning to mass-market retail, but hopes to grow brand equity in smaller stores before taking on the big players again.
New look packs
“What we found was that the techy branding that we initiated didn’t really align with consumers,” said Reiss. “It was black packaging and looked almost like a video game – it was trying to be a little too modern.”
The company has revamped its packaging to better-align with the brand’s values as a natural and better-for-you product. The company has also added a non-GMO label on pack. “Before you had no clue what you were buying,” said Reiss.
Unreal’s bars now come in silver matte packaging and it has more varieties in stand-up pouches.
Comparisons to leading brands
Candy coated milk chocolates vs. M&M's
- about 1/3 less sugar
- about 30% more fiber
- over 60% more protein
Milk chocolate peanut butter cups vs. Reese's peanut butter cups
- over 2/3 less sugar
- about 80% more fiber
Focus on innovation
The company has also switched to Fairtrade USA certified cocoa and organic milk and has removed soy. “We are much more focused on innovation now,” continued Reiss.
The firm has introduced a range of new products since ConfectioneryNews last spoke to co-founder Adam Melonas in 2013.
Unreal has concentrated on adding SKUs for its bestseller, the Peanut Butter Cups – its Reese’s equivalent. It now has a dark chocolate variety, a milk chocolate and crispy quinoa version and a dark chocolate coconut SKU. A dark chocolate and almond butter variety is planned soon.
The Candy Coated Chocolates range – Unreal’s take on M&M’s – will be among its next innovation platforms, with a dark chocolate version under consideration.
Reiss said in the longer-term the company harbored ambitions to ‘unjunk ’ other popular foods such as sugar confectionery and even snack foods and drinks.
Unreal now employs six full-time staff and products are produced by two co-packers: one in Canada and another in the US.