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Specialty Candy’s Time to Shine

Hammond Candies' limited-edition Naughty or Nice Candy Cane

When the weather grows colder, Hammond’s Candies anticipates big sales.

“The winter season is absolutely the lifeblood and livelihood of Hammond’s Candies,” affirms Andrew Whisler, EVP of business development at the Denver-based specialty confectioner. “While we have added some great ‘everyday’ candy segments to our portfolio, we are still primarily known in the market as a nostalgia Christmas candy manufacturer.”

That being the case, the company annually strives to come up with a show-stopping holiday item.

“Since the candy cane segment is what we are most known for, each year we try to launch a limited-edition flavor,” notes Whisler. “This year’s special candy cane is the Naughty or Nice cane. Each case has 48 of our 1.75-ounce candy canes, and they all look the same in appearance, but 50 percent of the canes are flavored in a Black Licorice flavor (naughty) and 50 percent of the canes are flavored in a Strawberry flavor (nice). The canes have a cute holiday hang tag that explains the fun of the mystery flavor, and it isn’t until the consumer begins to eat the cane that they find out if they are Naughty or Nice.”

According to Whisler: “Pre-sales have been extremely strong, as we have already booked more than double of what we had planned to make available on a limited edition this year. Because of the strong demand, we plan to quadruple the amount originally planned, so that plenty of retailers can participate in this fun flavor.”

When it comes to in-store merchandising, Whisler notes that “we provide a one-stop shop for a complete holiday gift/stocking-stuffer program that is very elegant in its branding and makes a dramatic impact with consumers at store level, when the retailer really makes a bold statement with a mix of products, rather than just one or two items. Everyone wants the Hammond’s famous oversized candy cane, but then pairing that set with a mix of products from our classic hard-candy gift bags (pillows, mini ribbons, straws); marshmallows; popcorns; and award-winning candy bars really can have a wow factor in the retailer’s display, and gives a range of higher-priced stand-alone gifts, down to stocking stuffers/present toppers.”

Beyond the store, he admits: “We have been very fortunate … because the quality of our goods and the unique artisan nature of the product brings a lot of attention from different print and digital media each year, so we … get a lot of free publicity, from The Food Network to O Magazine, and countless other media placements that help drive brand awareness with consumers, and help drive those impulse buys when customers see a brand they have heard of or recognize.”

His advice to retailers as to how to get the most out of their holiday candy displays? “One of the biggest things I see is [retail] customers under-buying because of uncertainty in the market, but then when the season hits, they are so swamped with their daily business needs and increased traffic that they can go days/weeks with their set being well picked over and not looking full and fresh, before they find the time to call in for a reorder to refresh the display,” says Whisler. “It’s critical to keep it fresh and full and attention-grabbing for the consumer.”

Read more about holiday candy and snack merchandising in the article published in the September 2017 issue of Progressive Grocer.

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