All Eyes On Theater Boxes
By Renee M. Covino
The “billboard effect” of these increasingly popular candy boxes is just one of the ways the packaging has made it a perfect mass retail fit.
A bucket of popcorn, a giant soda, and a box of candy — in a specific rectangular flat shape that displays quite nicely under glass at concessions stands — those are the standard trio of treats enjoyed by America’s moviegoers. A few years ago, that special-sized candy box was incorporated into the candy sets at video rental stores with much success; more recently, mass retailers everywhere are realizing the profit and display potential of what is now known as “theater box candy.”
In addition to the 35-40 percent profit margins they typically carry, the display-friendly nature of a theater box is top on its list of attributes for the mass retail trade. “Retailers and manufacturers have quickly jumped on the category due to the fact that the profit margins tend to be larger — based on lower-ounce weights, and that the packaging lends itself to billboard-like shelf presence,” says a spokesperson for Blueberry Hill Foods, which recently introduced the first “general line candy approach” to theater boxes.
The category’s familiar “billboard effect” is also known as block setting —when the whole candy set is faced, the combination of all the SKUs together gives the section a poster-like image.
“Consumers are drawn to this, and it makes them feel they are getting their money’s worth with the purchase,” says Dan Johnson, director of sales for Candy Planet, which is just entering the theater box arena with three offerings of “very special” gummies: Gummy Cats and Gummy Dogs (donating 10 percent of the profits to “no kill” shelters) and “We Care” Gummy Pink Ribbons of Hope (donating 10 percent of the profits to breast cancer research and awareness programs).
It seems theater box items can fit just about anywhere, and so that’s exactly where they’re showing up — at the checkout rack, in a candy gondola, on sidekicks and speed tables, and neatly positioned into a permanent candy set.
“Because of the ease of display of the theater box format, most retailers have been able to incorporate it into their existing displays,” maintains Johnson. “Retailers have definitely changed sets for these items; the profit margins and competition pressures have really pushed this product to the plan-o-grams,” adds Blueberry Hill’s spokesperson.
Retailers that have been particularly praised for their efforts in the category include the Circle K (convenience store) division in Arizona, which has added permanent sidekick racks designed exclusively for theater boxes. Dollar Tree has built a “huge” section of theater boxes in its stores, and at discounted prices, has really enhanced the value perception of the category for its customers.
Overall, the drugstore class of trade is very fond of theater boxes, reportedly allocating the most linear feet. Walgreens, CVS and Brooks have repositioned a lot of facings to theater box candy.
“Drugstores have shown the highest increase in sales over the last year, according to our IRI data,” relays Donald Houston, brand manager for Hot Tamales and Mike and Ike, two of the category’s “originals” from Just Born, with a 32 percent share in the category. The company recently introduced two new “big” theater boxes in 6-ounce and 9.5-ounce sizes.