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Although many Americans profess to wanting to adopt a healthier diet, the candy and snack industry has nothing to fear. The National Confectioners Association?s (NCA) 2014 Sweets & Snacks Expo made it clear that the industry is continuing its trend of annual growth, building upon the 2.5-percent increase it posted in 2013.
Value, however, is playing a larger part in consumers? purchase decisions. ?Consumers are searching for value, and value isn?t about ?cheap.? It?s about making my life better,? Larry Levin, executive vice president of industry insights for Information Resources Inc., said during the event?s opening keynote speech.
More than 15,000 attendees and 620 companies participated in this year?s Sweets & Snacks Expo, held at Chicago?s McCormick Place, making it the largest in the event?s history. The show featured more than 3 acres of exhibitors; a Shopper Solutions Theater where industry experts came to share insights and tips; and a showcase of innovative new products.
At the Shopper Solutions Theater, Kit Dietz of Dietz Consulting presented research on maximizing candy sales, followed by a retailer panel discussion. ?We have a real opportunity to create interruptions and do a better job of capturing sales,? he said.
Dietz urged convenience store retailers, in particular, to understand the extremely impulsive nature of candy sales, as 65.9 percent of candy purchase decisions are made within 10 to 20 seconds.
Exploring the minds and decision-making processes of shoppers was also a main subject during the Shopper Solutions Theater session, ?What Motivates Shoppers?? presented by Doug Van Andel, senior vice president and North America executive creative officer for Saatchi & Saatchi X.
?You?ve got five senses to work with,? Van Andel said, discussing the power that suppliers and marketers have to create lasting emotional connections from positive memories. Of candy, he said, ?nobody needs you ? everybody wants you,? and it?s easier to love a desire than a need.
At his second keynote presentation, Levin and NCA Vice President of Customer Relations Larry Wilson spoke about the importance of profiling customer segments, meeting their needs and giving them reasons to be passionate about the brands they enjoy.
Although Wilson noted the path to purchase starts ?way before they get to the store,? he stressed that the in-aisle experience drives success, and retailers need to make that experience simple and positive for shoppers.
?Variety comes with a challenge: it needs to be well organized,? Wilson said.