Mariah Havens, senior brand manager of seasonal marketing for Ferrara, recently took some time to answer some questions about the upcoming Halloween season, being the No. 1 non-chocolate confectionery manufacturer on Amazon, and how consumers responded to that BRACH’S Turkey Dinner Candy Corn.
What new products are you launching this year? And what was some of the inspiration behind them?
At Ferrara, we are always keeping a close pulse on trends in the industry, themes in pop culture and listening to what our fans want. This year we’re excited to add new innovations to our Halloween lineup and bring back fall favorites. From fun flavor extensions to more individually wrapped offerings, we try to have something for everyone!
One thing you may not know is that Ferrara is the No. 1 producer of candy corn – we hold an 85 percent market share. We’re proud to be the leader in the category and while we continue to produce our seasonal classics like BRACH’S Original Candy Corn, we’ve also innovated this year with unique flavors, shapes and line extensions.
These new items include:
BRACH’S Sour Haunted Tropics Candy Corn features a blend of six tropical flavors with a tangy twist, including Watermelon, Pineapple, Banana, Kiwi, Mango and Tropical Punch.
BRACH’S Mellowcreme Caramel Apples are a sweet seasonal favorite featuring apple-shaped candy corn with a top layer of soft caramel flavor followed by another layer of either sweet red apple or tangy green apple.
BRACH’S Skulls & Bones is an enchanting combination of dark chocolate sea salt skulls and caramel bones mixed with sweet banana and traditional candy corn pieces.
BRACH’S Turkey Dinner Candy Corn provides a full-course Thanksgiving meal in a unique mix of candy corn flavors that will carry celebrations throughout the fall season.
Another priority for us this Halloween season is helping families enjoy more flexible celebrations. We launched individually wrapped cookie and candy treats in a variety of sizes, perfect for intimate Halloween celebrations, festive crafts, baking and decorating and other seasonal occasions. New items include:
Introducing Seasonal Cookie Shapes & Colors: Mother’s Halloween Circus Animal Cookies are a limited-edition batch of treats featuring vanilla shortbread-based bat and cat shapes and covered in orange and white icing and sprinkles.
New Fun-Sized Combinations: For the first time, Ferrara combines fan favorites — Trolli Sour Brite Crunchy Crawlers and Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies — together in one bag.
Individually Wrapped Candy Favorites: Now fans can enjoy Big Chewy Nerds and Trolli Crunchy Crawlers in treat sized bags – among many other product offerings.
And how have consumers responded to the BRACH'S Turkey Dinner Candy Corn?
At Ferrara, we know that unique innovations and exclusive product offerings help to drive people in-store. As polarizing as it may be, there’s no better example than the recent release of BRACH’S Turkey Dinner Candy Corn, created exclusively for Walgreens.
Not only has this product driven brand conversation across a variety of platforms, it is driving in-store trips. At a time when in-store trips are generally down, people who may have made only essential trips to Walgreens are now making special trips to find this new candy corn. In fact, Walgreens across the country sold out of Turkey Dinner within the first week the product hit store shelves. Being good partners with our customers has allowed us to work with them to adapt and win with our fans.
Has a lack of in-person industry shows for most of this year impacted new product launches? And if so, how? And how has Ferrara overcome that?
With the in-person cancelation of Sweets & Snacks this year, our team quickly evolved our strategy to fit the virtual show in order to provide media and consumers with an in-depth look at all our upcoming product innovations, regardless of the format. Despite these industry shifts, we’re still generating great buzz for our products and know our fans are hungry for Halloween – literally!
For the past five years Ferrara has continued to grow sales and 2020 is projected to be our best Halloween yet. While it’s still early in the season, we anticipate a significant increase in online order volume from last year and have seen an increased consumer desire for seasonal items outside of the traditional selling season.
Today, Ferrara is the No. 1 non-chocolate confectionery manufacturer on Amazon. Our e-commerce team is focused on ensuring the searchability and visibility of our brands fits our consumers’ needs across this ever-growing channel. While we see an increase in the amount of product being used for e-commerce, it has not diluted the inventory for other channels. In fact, it indicates a shift from retailers to adapt to consumer behaviors.
How has Ferrara prepared for Halloween this year? How has the pandemic impacted that?
The pandemic has pushed everything up earlier in the year, and we have seen an increased consumer desire for Halloween items outside of the typical sales season. To meet that demand, we started direct-to-consumer fulfillment three months earlier than the previous two years. We’ve also seen that most of our retail partners have taken their Halloween shipments earlier than usual, signaling customer and consumer optimism for the 2020 Halloween season.
Given this shift in behavior, a priority for us at Ferrara has been making product shipments available and ready to go as early as possible. We’ve been working with our retail customers to ensure they have our product on the floor as soon as possible, allowing them to take full advantage of the full 13 weeks of the Halloween season. Most importantly, we are doing so with the highest standard of care possible to ensure the health and safety of our team, which is and remains our top priority. With our safety standards and enhanced sanitation protocols in place, we were also able to meet the needs of our retail partners when other manufacturers were not.
In addition to moving product shipments up earlier, we’re also excited to partner with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to introduce Ferrara’s first-ever augmented reality (AR) experience featuring the iconic Ghostbusters franchise. Called the “Haunted Candy Hunt,” the new AR game launched on Sept. 23 and will be around through Halloween – giving our fans plenty of time to perfect their ghost-hunting skills. To play, users can log onto https://www.ghosthuntntrap.com on their smartphones and hunt for ghosts from their own living rooms, kitchens and backyards in search of the famed 1980s ghost Slimer, as well as a new character created exclusively for the game, Sweeter the Ferrara Candy Ghost. Prizes range from Sony televisions to Ghostbusters action figures and a grand prize of a Sony Home Theater Package.
How does Ferrara expect the Halloween season to go? Can you share any sales figures for how much business is usually related to trick-or-treating compared to what you’re expecting this year?
Halloween is our top-performing season, and we’re excited to continue dominating as the No. 1 brand in Seasonal Non-Chocolate confections this year. With nearly 30 percent market share in the category for sugar – close to 8 percent ahead of the next competitor – we expect 2020 Halloween, 2020 Holiday, 2021 Valentine’s Day and 2021 Easter to outperform the same season from the year prior and to drive additional sales in 2021 for Ferrara.
Our seasonal leadership remains focused on continuing to offer candy fans our beloved brands while also creating innovations that differentiate the portfolio and deliver new, on-trend products. We know that our products help people create special moments during the seasons and build lasting memories. Such leadership lies in our ability to create innovations in a way no competitor can match. For example, this year we launched BRACH’S Mellowcreme Caramel Apples which signal the change of the seasons with sweet fall flavors like soft caramel and either sweet red apple or tangy green apple. We’re also excited to introduce new seasonal innovations like Trolli Crunchy Crawlers and Big Chewy NERDS treat packs. A fun fact I like to share is Trolli Crunchy Crawlers was voted the most innovative candy at the 2019 Sweets & Snacks show!
Ferrara’s recent acquisition of the Kellogg cookie business has us excited to introduce our first-ever seasonal cookie concepts with Mother’s Halloween Circus Animal Cookies. These fun, fully frosted orange and white sugar cookies are sprinkled with nonpareils and come in fun cat and bat Halloween shapes. We’re also bringing our fan favorite Trolli Sour Brite Crawlers and beloved Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies together in one bag for the first time to offer treat packs to satisfy the whole family!
Mixed bags are also an integral part of Halloween and we continue to enhance our classic “Kiddie Mix” offerings to bring new varieties of favorites like SweeTARTS, Laffy Taffy, NERDS and Lemonhead all together in one bag.
As we look ahead to the winter holidays, how will Halloween impact planning for those? What are you doing to prepare for the winter holidays?
We know that earlier is better. It does vary across customer and channel, but we saw retailers take shipments as early as six weeks compared to last year. We also shipped Christmas product in the same way, and as soon as Halloween is sold through, even if it’s before October 31, retailers will fill the shelves with Christmas product, knowing they have it ready to go in their back rooms.
Once the Halloween season wraps up, we will also evaluate how our strategy performed and implement those learnings to our winter candy season. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but we have a lot of delicious new products coming in the upcoming months, and we’re looking forward to sharing with our consumers to make the winter season sweeter.