February 1, 2005
How can merchandisers not have fun with the variety of colors, flavors and packaging that’s become inherent with jelly beans?
P resident Ronald Reagan took the jelly bean category beyond its Easter heritage into an everyday pleasure. If this U.S. leader could keep a jar of jelly beans on his desk, then so, too, could millions of American citizens. Today, 20 years after the Reagan era, it is still not unusual to see jelly bean jars in the office or elegant bowls filled with jelly beans on the coffee table. The question is: are retailers still marketing them as the mainstay candy they’ve become? Are they taking advantage of all the cross-merchandising possibilities, especially now with the no-sugar varieties?
If a retailer really wants to do jelly beans right, bulk dispensers are a must. The most forward-thinking retailers are even using them as the backdrop of the chain’s entire candy department. And why not? The color and flavor varietals are a sure impulse grabber. The leading jelly bean company, as well as other vendors and wholesalers, are well equipped to service the dispensers and keep the section in pristine condition. Retailers should keep in mind that they don’t have to have a full bulk section to maintain a dispensed jelly bean section.
Jelly beans are an inherently fun candy—their size, shape, and the way they can be popped into the mouth. Therefore, retailers should keep the merchandising and marketing of the category just as light.
Baby boomers are still great jelly bean consumers. Many of them remember the Reagan endorsement, and they have kept up with the trend. Others are approaching or have hit the “senior” mark, and thanks to an increase in sugar-free jelly bean options, they can stick with their favorite candy category as before. Diabetics and those just trying to watch their weight are also an increasing bunch for the beans.
That’s not to say that kids should be left out of the target market. But the younger set is most attracted to wild flavors and/or beans that come with a gadget or a unique packaging option, such as jelly bean dispensers. Kids also are fond of bulk displays that let them help themselves to a personalized mix.
Jelly beans are the mainstay candy of card stores and gift shops; a clever retailer will cross merchandise upscale assortments in similar aisles of the store. Floral is another popular gift area for outpost displays.
And how about near the pharmacy? This section is a natural for no-sugar jelly bean SKUs.
Expect to see more sugar-free sales in the category. Major jelly bean companies are realizing sugar-free gains of more than 50 percent over last year, and they plan to increase flavor and packaging varieties to meet with the expected demand this year.
Bulk jelly bean displays are perfect for consumers that want to take home their favorite flavors or fill up a candy jar. They allow for portion control, which is key in all of candy right now, especially in these diet-conscious times. Mixing menus, where customers can combine two or more flavors of jelly beans to get a particular flavor (such as chocolate and cherry to get a chocolate-covered cherry) is a fun and profitable way to turn more beans in bulk. Hyping a flavor of the month is a gift-shop idea that other retailers might also do well to imitate.
But let’s not forget that jelly beans are also the top-selling non-chocolate gift candy. Retailers need to merchandise the many packaging varieties (gumball-like machines, flavor-sectioned boxes, tins, etc.) in areas where other gift candy and boxed candy is sold.