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Who doesn’t love candy? Even for the health conscious consumer, there’s at least one candy where desire is too strong of a match for their willpower. But if everybody loves candy, why is it so hard to break through the candy industry and rake in the cash?
Many brands make it on the local level through hustle and grit but struggle past the point of becoming a mid market candy company. There is a big-time disconnect between what it takes to succeed at fairs and farmer’s markets then succeeding on the shelf.
We could easily blame the existing brands who own the market with their significant brand recall on their packaging design, but is this really the answer? Or are we leaning on the satisfaction we feel when everyone who samples and loves your products? There’s a level of assumption in the candy category that sugary products will continue to sell themselves.
Like other established CPG categories, we need a comprehensive strategy to ensure your product goes from shelf to cart in a repeatable way. Putting a packaging design strategy for your candy product is one aspect of a strategy that we must take seriously. But before we get into the packaging design process, there are a few preliminary steps we need to take.
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Who is Your Target Customer?
The answer to this question isn’t as simple as choosing between children and adults. Understanding your target consumer requires a deep look at their lifestyle, responsibilities, habits, and experiences. If age were the only metric for determining our customer profile, then we would reserve bright cartoonish packaging for children, which we know isn’t true for sweetened foods.
The Lifestyle of Your Candy Consumer
Purchase drivers change significantly based on the lifestyles of consumers. While the health conscious consumer may have a favorite candy, specific health messaging on the front of your package may end up deterring them from making a purchase. Like all food packaging designs, lifestyle is an important consideration in the package design process.
The Responsibilities of Your Consumer
Why is your candy being purchased? Is it a guilty pleasure providing momentary satisfaction for the consumer? Or is it a quick treat used as a reward for their hard work in the office, gym, or fulfilling domestic responsibilities? Perhaps it is an exhausted and glucose deprived teen feeling worthy of a reward after completing their school work?
These questions may seem unnecessary, but this is how we flush out strategies that better understand consumer behavior.
The habits of Your Consumer
It’s important to understand when and why your ideal customer purchases candy. Premeditated purchases made for a movie night sync with verbal and nonverbal experience focused purchase drivers. Whereas a momentary splurge, where the person needs a dose of stress relief better resonates with feel good messaging.
An important consideration for any packaging refresh is maintaining the brand elements a consumer associates with a memory. If a Mexican hard candy company changes their packaging without this consideration, it could reduce brand recall built from years grandma spent giving this candy to her grandchild.
While industry trends change over time, shifting your product packaging right along with the trends may negatively impact revenues. Just because it’s cool to be healthy doesn’t mean that making your product “appear” healthy will help your candy hit home with that shopper.
The Experiences of Your Consumer
This subject is just as much for existing brands as it is for new brands. Attaching your product to an experience is a way to assure your candy product sells for years to come. For this reason, Warren Buffett has been and continues being bullish on See’s Candy.
Here is a quote from the Oracle of Omaha himself.
“They had taken a box on Valentine’s Day to some girl and she had kissed him … See’s Candies means getting kissed,” he added. “If we can get that in the minds of people, we can raise prices.”
Not only is Mr. Buffet assured that this association creates repeatable purchases, but it also gives him permission to increase profits without a negative impact. Now that is powerful!
Who is Your Target Retailer?
The retailers that carry your product are equally important as the consumer who makes the purchase. Having done your research, your ideal consumer clearly informs you of their favorite candy retailer. But we do not finish our job here since most shoppers make candy purchases whenever/wherever they find the product.
Boutique Candy Stores
There isn’t anything quite as stimulating as walking into a boutique candy store, such as Rocket Fizz. Colors seem to explode off the shelf with seemingly every type of gummy candy, hard candy, and chocolate candy known to humankind. But actually, these candy shops are quite selective about what they carry.
If you feel like your candy is something special, then you want to state that a legendary boutique candy store carries your product. To succeed, packaging design for candy retailers needs to stand out in a more distinct way than by being loud and proud. Finding a niche within the candy category could help a new brand connect with candy consumers.
Unless offering heavier margins and custom displays, very few convenience stores will be interested in new candy brands. Want your candy to sell in the most impulsive of all food and drink retailers? Then think about your product packaging beyond the candy wrapper or box that holds the goods. Shelf talkers and POP displays must expand on your sales copy, giving candy consumers more of what they want to hear.
Big or small, grocery stores are where we make the bulk of candy purchases. If you want your sweet treat to turn profits worthy of a large acquisition, then position yourself in at least a few major grocery stores. When approaching these established grocery retailers, they will inevitably ask, “why should we do business with you?”
Do not leave this job only to your national sales manager. Your candy packaging design should already address the future questions to be asked. In fact, mediocre product packaging is a primary reason grocery buyers won’t answer your calls or emails. Merchandisers are not free from being in awe of great packaging.
Simulated product placement testing is crucial for success on any grocery store shelf. That’s why we include testing in our packaging design process. Testing in a simulated buying environment allows you to communicate to the purchaser how your product will compete against major brands. Less risk-more reward-everybody wins.
Big Box Stores
Secondary packaging matters in the success of a candy brand transitioning to stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, and Smart n Final. While there are certain branding elements carried from a candy bar to a candy box, the consumer buying in bulk differs from one buying based on convenience. Bulk packaging has visual differences as well, when considering the unique shape and the distance at which consumers view your candy.
How can your candy package design draw in shoppers from the center of these wider aisles to where they can reach out and grab your product?
Since candy attracts a wide audience, certain novelty retailers find that carrying sweets makes for the impulse buy. M&M’s and Snickers are not the ideal products for novelty shops like urban outfitters looking for more unique candy packaging than what you find on every Ol’ shelf.
Here are a couple of candy packaging ideas you find in novelty stores.
Cute Candy Packaging: Nothing says “buy me now” like a candy with a cute teddy bear or color scheme. When you combine awwww with yummmmm, it is easy to see why these become grab and go purchases made alongside clothing, books, and nicknacks.
Vintage Candy Packaging: Throwback packaging does really well in these novelty shops. If Snickers hopes to capture this audience, then going with a retro chocolate bar packaging design is a consideration that may differentiate this product from its common appearance.
Candy Packaging That Customers Feel
A candy wrapper or candy box are the two primary ways to package your candy product. When needed, combining the two protects your product and reaps the design benefits of flat surfacing that candy boxes provide.
Many ways that you can make your packaging stand out exist within these candy packaging frameworks. Think of fun products like the Cadbury egg that turn its box packaging into a point of purchase display. This creative approach to candy design forms an opportunity for their packaging to stand out uniquely.
Candy Wrapper Packaging Design
How can you bring experience to your candy bar packaging design? While you might feel a branding disadvantage compared to a candy box, you have a more unique opportunity for customers to feel your product. Touch offers a longer lasting brain connection than eyes alone can create.
Get more out of your almond filled chocolate candy by using a packaging material type by allowing a customer to feel the ridges of the almond. Or at the very least, feel the raise it creates above the chocolate layer.
Candy Box Packaging Design
We do not reserve kinesthetic purchase drivers only for candy wrappers. Your flat box can use raised fonts on the wording and imagery bringing the product to life. What if your almond filled chocolate candy had a raised almond on the front? Or how about a fruit candy packaging design with a scratch and sniff feature on the box?
Candy Packaging Design Strategies
It takes more than candy packaging design elements for your brand to stand out. Attractive packaging with a beautiful illustration alongside effective copy definitely helps you increase purchase intent. But sometimes we need to go above and beyond in order to prevent candy from going stale.
Giving the Gift of Candy
Gift packaging is a fantastic pattern interrupt for your candy brand. Gift baskets are no longer reserved for Easter egg hunts. Whether with your own products or in partnership with other food brands, capture more attention with periodical gift boxes and baskets.
Big sales often come in smaller packaging. Bite size candies are no longer reserved for Halloween. Smaller sizes make sense in this health conscious society where people struggle to let go of their guilty pleasures. From several standpoints, smaller candy options may be a necessary part of our packaging design strategy. Here are a few of the reasons.
- The “option” to promote a specific calorie content on packaging sells against its sugar content.
- It Prevents mid enjoyment remorse people experience after a few bites of candy.
- We view this packaging as a daily reward rather than an occasional treat.
- Smaller sizes are more socially acceptable for school children’s lunch boxes.
- For premium brands, smaller sizes reduce the sticker shock luxury creates.
Perhaps these appear to be a sales pitch, but consider this: we do not make candy products. We are simply a design agency in the packaging industry that will offer our 2-cents on a subject when needed.
What began as a trend in dark chocolate now exists in many candy categories. Sustainable ingredients and eco-friendly packaging enhance a brand’s appearance, promoting health in an otherwise unhealthy product category. While you shouldn’t aim for trickery, expect an increase in candy sales if you appear to be the better of two options in consumers’ eyes..
The Sweetest Packaging Design Agency
Want a best-selling brand? SmashBrand is a CPG design agency that helps you win on-shelf. Our packaging design methodology uses a proprietary strategy and testing formula that gives you the competitive advantage in any retail environment. Book a time to discuss your project with our team.