Candy Club, a monthly subscription service, has been delivering sweets and smiles to candy lovers’ doorsteps since 2015, but now the company is offering consumers a specialty candy experience where they shop.
Keith Cohn, founder and CEO of Candy Club, said that while the subscription service represents a strong foundation for the business — it boasted 50,000 members at its peak — the company saw an opportunity late last year to bring its premium candy to specialty retailers.
Cohn noted the department stores, specialty grocery and hospitality outlets the company now serves were not benefiting from merchandising candy at checkouts and other strategic locations, since mass market confectionery items may not have fit their brands or enticed a higher-end consumer.
“All retailers are looking to maximize the business, why would the specialty market retailers want to try to find a new revenue stream?” he said. “The reality is that the existing products from the mass market don’t serve their purpose.”
Candy Club is uniquely suited to serve these retailers, Cohn said, thanks to its global network of supplier manufacturers that provide products across a range of confectionery categories.
“We have a really broad base group of manufacturers who support our product needs,” he said. “We go in as a one-stop-shop for these retailers, so it’s a little easier for them to work with us because we can offer them something that meets every consumer’s needs.”
At the start of 2020, Candy Club products were available in 4,500 stores. Now that’s ballooned to 12,000 stores, even with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Candy Club products have also joined the Curated by Kohl’s program, which is designed to introduce customers to new and emerging brands. The products are also set to appear in the junior’s section at Kohl’s locations.
“We’ve really been able to flourish, and I think part of that is we’ve got a great product, it’s well packaged, it’s well priced, and it really is a unique offering,” Cohn said.
Candy Club and COVID-19
Cohn said the subscription side of the business got a boost in the first quarter after the start of the pandemic as people turned toward online shopping, but it has since leveled off. Nonetheless, he pointed to the positive effect of selling candy during difficult economic periods.
“Candy just always seems to do well as a category as a whole during recessionary and tougher markets,” he said. “I think we’re going to be in this same environment for the next one to two years, so I think we’re in the right place at the right time.”
Cohn noted the company hasn’t had any disruptions in its supply chain, especially as it’s aggressively grown its retail presence. He projects business to be up 500 percent this year over last year.
“We continue to see those growth numbers month over month, quarter over quarter,” he said. “We expect to see significant growth next year, too, off of a much bigger base.”
And Candy Club has no plans to slow down. The company continues to pursue expansion opportunities, but it will also introduce new products, particularly chocolate offerings designed for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween and the winter holidays. Candy Club will also develop items that suit a variety of price points.
Additionally, Candy Club plans to launch a direct-to-consumer website to allow its fans to purchase specific candies. Cohn said consumers requested this before COVID-19, but the demand has only grown after the pandemic began.
“Some people just love the candy subscription, (but) there are some customers that it doesn’t meet their needs,” he said. “They want to pick the items, pick how often they get them, and vary the price point they want to spend at a particular time. This allows them to get the stuff they know that they love.”