SymphonyIRI has some good news for the confectionery industry. According to the researcher, sweets and snacks sales remained strong throughout the recession and are projected to grow at a healthy pace over the next six months.

This spring, a research group of 500 consumers had the following to say about their habits over the past six months:

•    23% increased their purchases of chewing gum
•    21% increased their purchases of chocolate candy
•    19% increased their purchases of mints, breath fresheners and non-chocolate candy

SymphonyIRI also reported what retailers can expect over the next months:

•    28% increase in confection purchases at mass merchandisers
•    13% increase in confection purchases at dollar stores
•    12% increase in confection purchases at supermarkets
•    12% increase in confection purchases at club stores

Although consumers aren’t cutting back on buying candy, they are becoming more conscious of their purchases before leaving their homes. Nearly 75% of candy shoppers are planning their store trips in advance, making shopping lists, browsing store flyers and collecting coupons prior to visiting retailers. Brand loyalty also is important to 68% of shoppers who say they always purchase the same brand.

Chocolate, along with salty snacks and crackers, was rated among the most affordable and essential items by shoppers. However, SymphonyIRI noted a spike in the purchase of luxury products, including luxury chocolate, during the recession. This could be attributed to shoppers suffering “frugal fatigue” and attempting to maintain normalcy at home by continuing to buy items they have traditionally purchased.

Dark chocolate continues to be a favorite, particularly among families with health concerns. Among families with high cholesterol sufferers, 31% include dark chocolate in their diets, as do 30% of families with heart problem sufferers.

“Confections marketers to date have successfully navigated the waters of a rapidly transforming economy,” says Thom Blischok, global president of innovation and strategy for SymphonyIRI Group. Blischok stressed the importance of understanding shoppers’ habits in order to anticipate and meet their changing demands.

For more information about this study visit www.symphonyiri.com or email Chelsea Irwin at cirwin@stearnsjohnson.com.