Unique flavors and textures drive growth in the sugar confectionery market

By Keerthana Perumbala, Marketing Manager, Sensient

No matter how much consumers focus on healthy eating, there will always be a market for candy. People love candy for many reasons—nostalgia, the joy of indulging in an old favorite, great taste, sensational feelings and more.

Non-chocolate confectionery had been seeing declines, but the onset of COVID-19 led to a small surge. People tend to look for familiarity and affordable pleasures in times of crisis. That offers brands the opportunity to recapture consumers they may have lost, and to gain new fans through great-tasting, fun products that also have functional benefits and better-for-you claims.

Brands can capitalize on the moment by expanding into varied textures, chews, crunch and offerings that carry a health halo—like herbal flavors.

Positioning of these products is equally important with the increase in online shopping and changes in seasonal celebrations. In-store impulse purchases have dipped, along with those from vending machines and snack bars at movie theaters, festivals and concerts.

What do consumers want?

According to a recent Mintel study, 41% of consumers who have increased their consumption of non-chocolate candy attribute it to a better variety of flavors.

Fun Themes/Shapes.
Candy is fun! Brands can bring playfulness, enjoyment and entertainment into the home for adults and children. Adults with children under 16, as well as the kids themselves, want unique themes and shapes that inspire playfulness, such as edible “facial hair” and multi-colored octopus-shaped candy.

Older kids (think ’tweens and up) take things up a notch, telling researchers they’re after sensations (heat, cooling, tingling)—the more extreme, the better.

“Mature” Confectionery.
Can an adult beverage also be a candy? Yes, the alcohol-as-flavor category continues to expand in every direction. Think Champagne, Bourbon and Gin & Tonic flavors for a sophisticated twist.

Triple the Texture.
Texture rivals taste for younger consumers (’tweens to older teens), so candies that offer layers, such as a creamy fondant with bursts of sugar crystals wrapped in a gummy coating, create interest and excitement.

Functional Candy.
Wellness remains a focus for consumers of all ages. Consumers are motivated to purchase products that are better for them and their kids, and they look to reduce sugar where possible.

While candy will never be considered a health food, consumers are looking for brands to help guide their decisions when choosing products, even indulgent ones.

Contact us to learn more about creating truly craveable products, that meet your consumer’s expectations.