NCA study reveals seasonal confectionery still drives major annual sales

Consumers key seasonal buying patterns remain at the heart of the confectionery sector’s product demands, according to a fresh report from the US-based National Confectioners Association, writes Neill Barston.

With Halloween having just provided one of the major milestones, manufacturers and retails have swiftly turned their attentions to the Christmas market, which remains the biggest selling period of all.

According to the NCA’s latest study of more than 1,600 shoppers, it found that 64% of total chocolate and candy sales are attributed to the big four seasons – Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween and the winter holidays. It asserted that these allows for prime merchandising opportunities that ensure that confectionery products continue to enhance special occasions and that the category remains strong year-round.

In terms of performance, the Christmas season last year saw total retail sales of $5.6 billion across chocolate and candy categories in the US, followed closely by Halloween, earning $5bn for the sector, with Easter producing $4.6bn and Valentines also gaining a strong share of the confectionery love, attaining $4.2bn.

Notably, the study quizzed consumers on their attitudes to confectionery consumption, with a total of 96% of people stating that it was fine to enjoy some level of treating during the holidays. A similar figure at least either entirely (60%, or somewhat, 30%) agreed that it helped create great memories for families at seasonal occasions.

The generation that responded most positively to this was the ‘boomer’ age-group aged 60 plus, with 64% agreeing that confectionery was fundamental to social gatherings. This figure was closely followed by Gen X, at 63%, parents, 60%, millennials, 59%, and 52% with Gen Z.

As the NCA noted, its latest report, Getting to Know Seasonal Chocolate & Candy Consumers, offers an in-depth look at the trends, attitudes and behaviours related to confectionery treating during the four main seasonal moments, as well as secondary seasons and micro-occasions like Mother’s Day and back-to-school.

The report also explores innovation and merchandising opportunities for manufacturers and retailers related to introducing new seasonal products to shoppers – especially important since 88% of consumers report that they like to see new items when browsing for seasonal chocolate and candy.

“Seasonal treating is deeply rooted in tradition and elicits memories of happy times, sharing with loved ones and an unmatched feeling of nostalgia,” John Downs, president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association, said.

“Given the important role that chocolate and candy play in the seasons, it’s no surprise that the category enjoys a high rate of permissibility, with 96% of U.S. consumers in agreement that it is perfectly fine to enjoy some treats during the holidays. Even in challenging economic times, consumers are celebrating and making room in their budgets for the affordable luxury of chocolate and candy.”

The report also  shares key insights for confectionery manufacturers and retailers as they consider the future of seasonal treating, including identifying the opportunities to ensure that Gen Z and Millennials build the same emotional connections to chocolate and candy as older generations.


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