The firm’s original Himalaya Salt Lemon Mint candy is known to be exceptionally popular in Malaysia and Singapore. Just about every reputed grocery, pharmacy and convenience store in Malaysia carries this, and before COVID-19 border restrictions kicked in, it was not uncommon for Singaporean consumers to buy multiple boxes of the sweet in Malaysia to bring across the border.
Big Foot, which is the flagship candy brand under Nicko Jeep Manufacturing, attributes this runaway success to its unique ‘4-in-1’ flavour matching.
“The success of this product lies in the unique 4-in-1 flavour profile that we have created,” Big Foot Marketing Manager Andrew Lim told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“In this product consumers can enjoy four distinctive tastes and flavours which are: Salty, Lemony, Icy and mildly Sweet – [this is unusual, as] most candies in the market today usually only contain two tastes or flavours [at most, and so this is a big drawing point].
“The unique taste profile is not too sweet nor salty so it really appeals to all age groups, but in terms of our marketing communication, we are targeting consumers in the 18 to 35 age group as the main target demographic.”
Riding on this success and continuing with the 4-in-1 flavour trend, Big Foot has launched another variant of Himalaya Salt candy, this time with ginger instead of mint, in hopes of capturing any remaining consumer base that it has not yet reached.
“We’ve now developed a Himalaya Salt Ginger Lemon version of this candy based on consumers’ demand and feedback – this is to cater to consumers who do not prefer mint candies,” said Lim.
“Ginger is well-known in Asia for its many benefits to health, and with this ginger flavour, what we are offering is a ‘warmer’ experience to our consumers [as opposed to the ‘icy’ experience previously].
The other flavours and components remain similar, which means that the 4-in-1 flavours that the ginger lemon version offers are: Salty, Lemony, Warm and mildly Sweet.
Both the mint and ginger variants of Himalaya Salt are marketed as ‘sports candies’ on the front of the packaging due to the salt component, although Lim stressed that this does not mean it has therapeutic properties or full isotonic effects.
“The candy does not have full isotonic properties, just one main mineral that helps to improve hydration and/or electrolyte balance which is sodium. The sodium that we’ve incorporated per candy is very mild – the idea is to help anyone on the go freshen up and have a quick simple sodium fix within dietary guidelines,” he said.
“As such, it is not so much meant for athletes or as an after-sports candy, but really for everyone [and our consumer base reflects this].
“The retail price of the ginger variant is similar to that of the mint one, at around RM1.60 (US$0.39) per 15g pack – We’re still in the progress of pipelining to more retailers, but it is already available in Watsons, 7 Eleven, Tesco and many more retail outlets in Malaysia.”
More markets on the way
In addition to Malaysia and Singapore, Lim told us that Himalaya Salt candy is also seeing high popularity in other Asian countries such as Taiwan and Hong Kong, also attributing this to the 4-in-1 flavour profile.
“We’ve established the candy’s presence in about 10 Asian countries, and now we’re looking further – the plan is to penetrate into Europe and North America within the next three years,” he said.
Apart from the Himalaya Salt line, Big Foot also has a Himalaya Pastilles Peppermint product which is currently only available in Malaysia, and there are also plans to bring this to more countries.
“Himalaya Pastilles are soft candies without the salt component [so the focus here is not on the 4-in-1 flavour] but instead on its extra cool mint and chewy bite size [as the pastilles give an even stronger cooling, icy effect than the Himalaya Salt sweets,” said Lim.
“We are now working with our business partners [across the region and beyond] to introduce this product into more countries too.”
At one point, the Himalaya Salt candy craze was so out of control that a large amount of counterfeit sweets began appearing on the market, especially on online platforms such as Lazada.
At the time, Big Foot published warnings against these for health reasons, as these had not gone through strict quality control and the source of raw materials used for the counterfeits had not been verified.
“Yes, previously we faced this counterfeit issue in 2019 – it was very much a learning experience for us,” said Lim.
“After the incident, besides branding we embarked on using traceability for our products by incorporating security labelling on our packaging materials to identify and differentiate our genuine products.”
Indeed, the counterfeit packaging was so similar to the genuine one that consumers could barely tell them apart. Big Foot had to publish a notice on its website highlighted very specific small details to tell these apart.
These included ‘A slightly different font at the bottom in describing the functions of the candy’, ‘the words ‘Sports Candy’ are slightly faded’, the usage of ‘Manufacturer In Malaysia By’ instead of ‘Manufacture In Malaysia By’, and ‘extra spacing between Delfi Marketing Sdn. Bhd. and the mailing address’ – all details so tiny as to go unnoticed unless really paying attention to the pack.
“During the course of counterfeit issue, we worked together with the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs to raid counterfeiters, keep our business partners and consumers aware on the situations and educate them on how to differentiate the genuine from the fake ones,” said Lim.
Today, Big Foot believes that the counterfeit issues no longer exist, though the firm remains vigilant.