Non-Chocolate / News

Werther’s goes beyond 'grandpa’s candy'

Candy maker looks to “own caramel” as a company, capitalizing on its popularity.

Werthers Green Apple Caramel
Werther's new filled caramel flavor.

Gary Parker knows that Werther’s caramels have a reputation for being “grandpa’s candy.”

In fact, as the v.p. of sales for Storck USA, which makes Werther’s, Parker, knows the company itself is partly to blame for that. After all, it was a Werther’s ad campaign that featured a young boy and his grandpa enjoying the company’s signature caramels together, while the grandpa reminisced about his own grandfather sharing a Werther’s caramel with him.

“We tend to hold on to the memory of that commercial,” he explains.

But Parker also knows the time is right for Werther's to capitalize on the newfound fame of its main ingredient and reach out to a broader segment of the population.

“I really see the brand continuing the momentum,” Parker says. “Caramel is really the hot ingredient right now. If you look at a lot of what’s happening in the marketplace, you’re seeing the affinity of that flavor growing. You look at McDonald’s with their caramel coffee, Wendy’s has introduced a caramel apple Frosty. And you look at salted caramel, the whole thing is really on trend.”

That’s why Werther’s is doing things like setting up temporary caramel shops that feature caramel fountains and confectionery chefs at fall festivals around the country. They’re also coming out with new flavors, like Caramel Apple Filled Hard candies and Werther’s Original Toffee Crunch, featuring pieces of hazelnut & almond in rich European milk chocolate.

They’re also debuting new marketing campaigns aimed at younger women. For example, one of their latest commercials features a woman walking down the street. As she passes a caramel shop, she sees herself as a little girl in the reflection. The tag line is, “What comfort tastes like.”

“Our traditional consumer is women 50-plus, but we are expanding,” Parker says. “Our consumer is really anyone who loves caramel and we’re reaching them through television, prints, some radio commercials and... the fall festivals.”

And it all seems to working. Sales of Werther’s Caramel Apple Filled Hard Candies grew by more than 67%, and sales of the entire Werther’s Original Caramel portfolio increased by more than 17%.

The best time of year to sell caramel seems to be fall, and the company’s latest marketing campaign was focused on the season. The temporary shops at the fall festivals were a big part of it, but they also included in-store displays in the baking and produce aisles.

“It just fits with that time of year,” Parker says.

The push to benefit from caramel’s glory has also inspired the candy company to look into other categories. Parker says the brand will likely be moving into new sectors as they try to “own caramel”, but he wasn’t able to specify what types of products are on the horizon. However, he did say that the company has seen of lot of success with its caramel kitchen at Disney’s Epcot where most of the items are made with Werther’s caramel.

“We’re always looking to expand the caramel experience for consumers. To really bring alive all things caramel” Parker says. “Our goal is to look in different areas within the retail environment.”

Here’s hoping Werther’s ice cream shows up in the frozen food aisle very soon.  

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