Speaking with ConfectioneryNews at the NACS Show recently in Chicago, Keith Domalewski, director of marketing and consumer engagement at Just Born, said, “About 30% of [Just Born’s] sales come from c-stores driven by power brands such as Mike and Ike, and Hot Tamales.”
Mike and Ike, in particular, has been one of the fastest growing items in the theater box and non-chocolate candy categories, said Domalewski. “Hot Tamales is also the number one cinnamon candy brand in the US if you include gum and mints.”
Both of these brands fall under the theatre box candy category, and they carry some advantages in retail, according to Just Born.
Domalewski said that many candy shoppers treat theatre boxes as a king-size candy, and that is why retailers merchandise them within their king-size confectionery sections. “[Theatre boxes] also offer great value to the consumer,” he added.
For the upcoming Christmas, Just Born also launched several new gluten-free candy items to drive seasonal sales in the convenience channel, including Mike and Ike Merry Mix, Hot Tamales Fierce Cinnamon with packaging that says “Ho Ho Ho,” and Mike and Ike Original Fruits that was created to be a stocking stuffer.
These seasonal items remain at their original prices and pack sizes at retail, Domalewski mentioned. “I think we already have the right packs that work in c-stores,” he said.
Non-chocolate confectionery data
Just Born also highlighted some of the key retail data regarding its non-chocolate confectionery brands at the trade show:
According to IRI data that includes multi-channel with c-stores for the past 12 weeks ending Sept. 10, 2017, 8.3-ounce Hot Tamales cinnamon pack led the sugar theatre box category in terms of velocity, followed by Mike and Ike Original Fruits, Hershey’s four-ounce Reese’s pieces, and Mondelēz’s Sour Patch Kids and Swedish Fish.
Five-ounce Mike and Ike Mega Mix pack ranked seventh in terms of retail velocity, while Ferrara’s 3.5-ounce Trolli Sour Bite Crawlers and Hershey-owned 4.5-ounce Jolly Rancher ranked ninth and 10th respectively, according to the same data.
Additionally, Mike and Ike Original Fruits theatre box posted an annual 0.5% increase in dollar sales, while the total Mike and Ike grew by 5.2%.
IRI also pointed out that around 22% of the total US non-chocolate candy sales come from Mike and Ike Mega Mix, making the brand “incremental to the category.”
Just Born anticipates a double-digit growth rate driven by increased distribution and consumer awareness in 2018.