It’s Nice to be Back, But the Neighborhood Sure Has Changed

When the management at Stagnito Communications asked me to return as Publisher of Confectioner, I was quick to accept the challenge. After having invested almost 20 years in Confectioner, it is like coming back home. But after looking around a bit, I can tell you that the neighborhood has definitely changed in the intervening few years!
What’s New… What’s Different?
Well, for starters, the candy business hasn’t become any easier. Competitive products ­­— seeking the candy consumer — are adroit at tempting the candy eater with different, and perhaps new, appeals. Snacking is a definite way of life and there are many, many competitors in the space, including fast foods. These days, it’s just as fast to get a hamburger or a taco or chicken snack sandwich as it is to get a candy bar, bag of nuts, chocolate or granola bar, when the snack urge strikes. While the number of candy producers has diminished or merged into other entities (especially in the mid-size companies), in a broader sense competition has increased! That’s the bad news.
The good news is that compared to even a few years ago, candy is being sold in more places. Even though the growth of c-stores has leveled off, dollar stores have added important growth in the form of new outlets. “Big box” outlets such as Bed, Bath and Beyond, Linens n’ Things and even hardware stores like Menards, have made confectionery part of their mix at retail. Added to the retailing mix are the video rental stores, office supply and other ‘alternative’ outlets.
 It will take a while to figure out the optimum product configuration and retailing programs for these “non-traditional” outlets, but they will be contributors to sales.
Pros and Cons
The anti-candy faction seems to be a little more aggressive, but that is offset in large measure by all the good news about, for example, dark chocolate benefits. Certainly the marketing and new product thrust of the candy industry has grown, such as in the form of Limited Editions, and the additional ‘good news’ about chocolate is just now starting to reach the general public and will have a positive effect. People like what they like, and when it could be good for them, that’s even better!
And manufacturers have responded to consumers’ need to spend their calories wisely. In addition to the low-carb, high-protein, low-fat, sugarfree and other ‘better choices,’ the growth in luxury products is evident. Careful spending of calories results in a desire for ‘the very best,’ and that’s a definite trend. There’s room at the top!
To summarize, the retail landscape today requires more effort and more energy; it’s more complex and at the same time more demanding. No one ever said it would be easy, and you need to know that we at Confectioner dedicate ourselves and all our energies to helping increase sales of confectionery and snacks and to illuminating the dark corners of the unknowns.
Changes at Home
Speaking of change, you will notice improvements in our product, this magazine, beginning with this issue. We’ve responded to the quick round of informal discussions I had with Confectioner readers when I came back on board with a more contemporary, clean look to the magazine. And you’ll be seeing a clear ‘business’ focus in the issues to come. More facts and figures – guaranteed!
We are committed to excellence and a superior product. We owe that to our readers and our advertisers. And your inputs are important to me.
I’ll be reaching out to a lot people for their help and guidance. Please be proactive and call or e-mail me if you have criticisms, suggestions or ideas.
I look forward to having a chance to chat with you. It’s nice to be back; please join us on a journey of excellence!
Lisbeth Echeandia,
Direct Line: (903) 965-9300