The president position was newly created by Bazooka as an elevation of Jacobs’ previous role, general manager.
Not distancing from parent company
Jacobs suggested the creation of the new position does not necessarily mean Bazooka is distancing itself from its parent company, Topps.
“We always refer to [Topps’] confectionery business as the Bazooka Candy Brands,” he said.
“But in a couple of countries where we don’t have Bazooka [branded products], we are referred to more as the Topps confectionery business.”
Investing in marketing and international expansion
Bazooka Candy said it has built equity by investing in its power brands over the years, even though it has taken the national spotlight in the US with multiple unusual flavor and format launches in the past year.
In 2016, Bazooka drove its licensing business through partnerships with Japanese anime, Yo-Kai Watch, and the new Ice Age movie. Additionally, the company also created dessert-inspired confectionery brand Crunchkins, as well as emoji-shaped wearable gummies, Ring Pop Gummies Chain.
“We’re not novelty candy that you might see this year and will be gone next year,” Jacobs pointed out. “We invest in all these brands, investing in marketing communications and building them for the long term.”
What is more important for the mid-sized confectioner is expanding its global footprint, Jacobs said.
“We operate throughout the Americas, Japan, South Korea, throughout Europe and the Middle East, and we are going to continue expanding that,” he said.
Bazooka also purchased a small novelty candy business, Aveibras, in Brazil about a year-and-a-half ago, which the company envisions will be a “huge growth area,” Jacobs said.
Despite that the US market still contributes to the majority of Bazooka’s business, but Jacobs said the international market is growing exponentially with the European, Middle East and Asian segments posting 35% growth during last year.
Targeting double-digit growth with innovation
Bazooka developed juicy drop gummies a few years ago, and recently expanded the product line into the gum category with juicy drop gum, a product Jacobs described as “breakthrough innovation”.
“We also have products that lend themselves to the seasonal offering,” Jacobs added. “This past Easter, you can buy juicy drop gummies eggs that would really play to the season, but also bring that juicy drop gummies equity to them.”
“It’s really about attacking innovations on all fronts, because that’s the ‘life blood’ of our business,” he said.
The growth of Bazooka’s business has outpaced the US confectionery category three times faster in the past five years, according to Jacobs.
“Our target is to be growing double-digit, so we want to be up 10% at least [in the US], and international markets significantly more than that, about 15% to 20%, and it varies by country,” he said.
Advocating fairer sugar price
Jacobs currently serves as the chairman of the National Confectioners Association’s (NCA) Political Action Committee. He said the committee is actively involved on the legislating and regulatory side of the confectionery industry.
Even though many candy businesses fear that the health and wellness trend may take a toll on them, Jacobs said the category is doing “incredibly well.”
“When you have rules and legislation, we want to make sure to come up with ways in advance to treat the [confectionery] industry well.”
Jacobs said the NCA is advocating for a fairer regulation of sugar pricing that allows the industry to compete effectively.