Sweets With Soul
In a nation that’s increasingly focused on moral values, it’s no surprise that the climate is right for spiritually oriented candy.
Marketers of spiritually focused candy report that their brands are moving beyond Christian stores and into the mainstream marketplace across virtually all classes of trade.
Some buyers initially shy away from such products, fearing that it’s not “politically correct” and will be offensive to non-believers. Marketers of inspirational candy point out that merely stocking a product in your store isn’t the same thing as endorsing it, however.
And the focus with most inspirational candy offerings is on positive, uplifting messages of faith, hope and encouragement, so it’s hardly the sort of product that anyone can object to.
To succeed in this category, it’s critical that the products that are stocked are priced competitively and that product quality equals or exceeds that of comparable merchandise positioned for the mainstream. As one player in the category reports, “there’s much more to this business than just slapping a Scripture verse on a confectionery treat.”
The product assortment is broad-based and includes everything from mints, gum, gummies, and changemakers to upscale gift boxes. It’s currently sold in all 50 states.
As with any other candy subset, inspirational candy can work well within the main candy set as well as in secondary placements including everything from endcaps, clip strips, shippers and front-end positioning.
Like most other kinds of candy, inspirational candy is largely an impulse purchase, so it’s important for retailers that stock it to draw attention to it. If well marketed, it may eventually become a destination category.
Inspirational candy has both seasonal and everyday sales potential, and price points vary accordingly. You’ll find everything from changemakers for 35 cents to stocking stuffers for $3 or $4 to candy-filled Easter baskets for $15.
Vendors report that seasonal products account for anywhere from 40 percent to 70 percent of sales.
Valentine’s Day is a natural. One vendor reports particular success with a heart-shaped box of chocolates that carries an uplifting message of “faith, hope and love.” The company also offers its own version of the ever-popular Conversation Hearts. These candy hearts are stamped with messages of faith.
Another vendor reports that Halloween is a major seasonal sales occasion, thanks to shoppers who use the holiday to share their beliefs at the same time they’re distributing sweet treats to trick or treaters!
One side note: Retailers that cater to the largely Christian Hispanic market may find that inspirational candies are a particularly good fit.
Marketers of inspirational candy are reporting double-digit annual sales growth. According to the experts, only 20 percent of people of faith shop at faith-based retailers, which means that plenty of faith-based consumers are spending time and money in the mainstream marketplace.
Christian cross promotion.
Try cross merchandising these inspirational sweets with religiously oriented cards, books and videos such as The Passion of the Christ.
Go beyond the ‘big four’ candy holidays.
One large retail chain will be testing chocolates in a heart-shaped box adorned with the inscription, "I love you, Mom," for Mother’s Day this year. The package also features a Bible verse that reads, "And her children shall rise up and call her blessed."