Looking for a nostalgic confectionery brand, something with staying power? St. Paul-based Pearson Candy Co. could be your go-to company. After all, with a product lineup that features Salted Nut Roll, Nut Goodie, Mint and Coconut Patties as well as Bun Bar, consumers can enjoy classic treats, one which even goes back 104 years.
However, for a midsized confectionery concern to remain competitive in today’s complicated snacking universe, innovation and integration — as befits evolving taste patterns and diets — are critical to growth. And while a portfolio of great-tasting nostalgic brands is wonderful, it can limit one from capturing new consumers as well as pursuing new retail channels, says Michael Keller, president and ceo of Pearson’s.
“We have great nostalgic brands that people are still interested in,” he explains. “They experiencing and enjoying them. However, there’s only so many things you can do with a classic brand. For example. there’s certain things we see in this emerging world of snacking, and one of them is snacking chocolate.
“Our two best brands, Salted Nut Roll and Bit-o-Honey, don’t have chocolate,” Keller continues. “As a 107-year-old candy company, it’s important for us to explore, leverage and take advantage of trends And that’s why we decided to introduce a house brand, which will be an umbrella for a variety of applications.”
Hence, the launch of 7th St. Confections, which opens the door for “new and indulgent flavors and flavor profiles that we can tap into,” he says. “And we can do it from any platform.”
One of those platforms would address younger consumers, Keller points out.
“The 7th St. Confections brand doesn’t limit us to any specific confection; it gives us the flexibility to be relevant to a younger generation, be it X, Y or Z,” Keller says. “It also allows us to introduce a line of seasonal products.”
The new line is scheduled to debut in February, but the actual products to hit the shelves remain under wraps.
“I can tell you that there will be four flavors,” the tight-lipped chief executive reveals. “We’ve studied the market, followed trends and talked to buyers. The hardest thing was choosing which flavor options to roll out with.” It will, however, most certainly involve chocolate.
A year in development, the 7th St. Confections brand takes its name from the commercial street that runs along the Mississippi River and on which the company has its headquarters and manufacturing facility.
“For people in the Twin Cities area, the street carries a familiar connotation,” Keller says. “At the same time, those outside of the Twin Cities, the name has a cool, urban feel, a bit of grit one might say. It’s right in step with many of the trends we see.”
Pearson’s certainly took the right step with Bit-o-Honey, the brand it acquired from Nestle in 2013. Keller says the company increased sales for the product by 60 percent. Hmmm. Seems like we’ll need to keep an eye on that 7th Street Confections brand.