Is it really the cusp of 2015 already? Am I the only one who thinks the year whizzed by? Probably not, given the pace of work and life these days. And — in looking back — what lessons have we learned?
Well, for starters, some things — such as product quality, processing efficiency, passion, perseverance and pluck —don’t change regarding long-term success, even if we live in a world of digital immediacy.
Flash-in-the-pan internet notoriety remains a real concern, be it good or bad. I shudder at the thought of a YouTube video purposely misrepresenting a process or product, bringing a fledgling company to its knees. Of course, if I have a product that’s either directly or indirectly endorsed by a celebrity, well, look out for the orders. Again, great to garner all the attention, but perhaps overwhelming in trying to meet demand.
There’s no denying the power and impact of the internet and all its subsequent offspring, be it Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, the list goes on. It’s helped sustain revolutions, brought down governments, ignited as well as devastated stock prices, multiplied misinformation, embolden extremists, as well as empowered consumers and entrepreneurs.
I can’t live without it at work, but I certainly can at home. In the end, it is just a tool, although many millennials view their connection (smart phone) as integral to breathing.
Many confectionery companies, however, are still grappling with maximizing the internet’s use as a sales driver. Sure, the multinationals have the market cornered on connecting with their customers. Add to that the scores of midsized and even artisanal confectioners that have capitalized on the power of the digital directness, and it’s clear the industry “gets it.”
But is it getting its share of sales through the internet? According to a recent report by Forrester Research Inc., total retail sales will continue to muddle forward from 8 percent in 2013 to 11 percent in 2018. Total dollar sales, however, are projected to jump from $263 billion in 2013 to $414 billion in 2018, a 57.4 percent jump. Most likely it’s big-ticket items, such as televisions, sound systems and the like, that will account for that uptick.
On a more immediate front, e-retail holiday sales in the United States this year are projected to increase between 13 to 15 percent from last year. What percentage of total e-retail sales will be confectionery? Unfortunately, the latest stat that I dug up says global online confectionery sales account for a mere one percent.
Seems like our industry has a ways to go. One of the obstacles, of course, has been the very nature of confectionery purchases — that wonderful impulse buy. Despite the industry’s best efforts, one still can’t click and consume.
That, however, doesn’t mean one can’t have impulse purchases. As Matthew Williams, Mondelez’ marketing director, pointed out this summer in the British publication, The Grocer, “when considering impulsivity, it is important to distinguish impulse purchase and impulse consumption. There’s no reason why impulse purchase can’t occur online.”
Indeed. As the article emphasized, internet sales in the UK cracked ?100 million this summer, reflecting a 28.4 percent jump from the year before. Aside from electronic couponing, there are plenty of merchandising tools that can be incorporated to stimulate internet sales.
Devoting resources to such campaigns and promotions can be difficult, when everyone knows that the payback is in brick and mortar. Nonetheless, many artisanal and high-end confectioners find the internet a perfect vehicle to connect directly with discriminating consumers. In this case, the internet often paves the way for brick-and-mortar distribution.
As we bid adieu to 2014, it would be worth our time to reassess confectionery sales on the internet; seems like there’s work to be done in that area.