Fini landed on US shelves in 2018, starting at 7-Eleven stores and then specialty sweet shops like Sugarfina. In relying on its long history of success in Spain and Brazil, plus 100-some other countries, the brand believes it offers innovative, high-quality treats that stand out in the crowded category.
“Having that 50-year-history, leadership in Spain and Brazil – [that] dominance provides credibility to how we can build the market,” Trevin Morton, director of marketing for Fini Sweets USA, told ConfectioneryNews.
The process of curating the US lineup was ‘very intentional,’ he said, based largely on consumer research.
Fini wanted its products to bridge the gap between familiar yet different. The result is a series of twists on favorites, the 3D Bears being a prime example. The gluten- and fat-free gummies are larger than the typical gummy bear and splashed with pastel colors and little white bellies. The icing on top, though, is the real fruit juice: “That’s part of the reason why you get the flavor and aroma,” and consumers care about natural ingredients like real fruit juice, Morton added.
“Fini delivers on two fat drivers in consumer choice: taste and texture,” he said. “[Our] key to success has always been about capturing the imagination of the candy world.”
Its distinctive ingredient: coconut oil. It softens the gummy and improves the texture, said Morton, though he would not expound upon other ingredients that enhance the Fini experience.
Licorice for a new generation
The Spanish company enlisted American teenagers to understand voids in the gummy landscape, where licorice offerings were “kind of stale in terms of traditional players, whether it’s red or black,” said Morton.
Produced exclusively for the US market, Kollisions combines sweet and sour licorice in a variety of shapes – sour foam-filled tubes and fruity Lego-like pieces, plus red and black licorice wheels with a more true anise flavor.
Hooplas mix two fruity flavors into one groovy flower-shaped bite, which exemplifies Fini’s stab at “[reinventing] innovation within a category that’s been tried and true” but needed “a new spin.” Each bag features four combo flavors: Strawberry-Lemonade, Orange-Cherry, Blueberry-Raspberry, and Apple-Watermelon.
“When we look at our R&D, it’s been a concerted effort to do things that are eye-catching, a little whimsical, a little celebratory,” explained Morton.
He described the brand’s approach to confectionery as a sort of ‘mad scientist’ way of inspiring creativity.
No gummy brand goes sour-free
Fini has also introduced two standalone sour products to the US to satisfy that ever-increasing demand for tangy tastes:
- Shock Tongues, crystal-coated sour licorice belts, come in a combo pack of six flavors: Watermelon, Green Apple, Lemon, Grape, Cherry and Blue Raspberry.
- Sour Tornados stuff colorful licorice tubes with a soft sour filling, a ‘one-two punch,’ according to the brand.
Fini’s German counterpart Haribo also launched sour products in the US recently, a move it deemed essential to capturing more of the $8bn non-chocolate confectionery market. Chewy candy accounts for more than half of those sales, according to Mintel.
Most of Fini's gummies are sold in 4oz packages for an RRP of $1.29 and 8oz bags for $1.79. They are currently readily available on Amazon as well as specialty sweets shops including IT'SUGAR.
The brand has also made a name for itself through its unusual shapes, such as the bones, strawberries, sunny-side up eggs and zombie fingers on display in the Cinema Mix, available in an all-sweet or sweet-and-sour combo bag.
These mixed gummy bags contain a limited number of black licorice-flavored pieces, in an attempt to “reintroduce a younger audience to something that their grandparents might have enjoyed,” said Morton.
Though a consummate favorite in Europe, especially in the Nordic region, black licorice remains a ‘polarizing’ flavor in the US. Another Fini product, licorice wheels, caters to the small subset of Americans (currently selling well in the New England region, according to Morton) who appreciate its medicinal nature.
‘Revolutionary’ 2-in-1 packaging
Also new for the US, ‘Flip It’ offers consumers the chance to try two very different flavors in one package – Neon Bears and Sour Worms – but without one touching the other. The package essentially merges two plastic film bags into one that tears not down the middle but on either side: “They don’t sit next to each other, not impacting the flavor,” added Morton, noting that US consumers fall on either side of the sour-versus-sweet debate.
The company worked closely with engineers to nail down the manufacturing process to create a two-in-one bag, a process Morton emphasized was ‘very involved.’ The equipment and technology is used elsewhere in the packaging world, but Fini said it was “the first to kind of crack the nut on it” in confectionery.
Fini hopes to secure a trademark on the Flip It name, especially as it expands the concept to other markets. Stateside, the brand will continue to engage with consumers through a promotional campaign slated to run later this year, with fun as the ‘guiding thread and glue.’
A US production site stands as the longterm goal, once the brand reaches 'critical mass' in the US market – a journey already underway.