Marketing strategy

Candy Corn’s Marketing Strategy, Explained

Last year, candy brands like Reese’s and Sour Patch Kids focused on meeting stuff or caterers where they were… ie at home.

In case you forgot how dystopian Halloween 2020 was, let us remind you that Reese deployed a robot door to roll and distribute candy to kids, while Sour Patch Kids coined the term ‘reverse trick or treat. Which means he brought the kids to the kids via parcel deliveries.

Brach also found a raw unique way to grab attention during the unconventional year. The brand launched a turkey-flavored version of its signature Sweet Corn, garnering more than 6 billion impressions online, which exceeded the brand’s “wildest dreams”, according to Katie Duffy, vice president and general manager. general of seasonal workers at Ferrara, owner of Brach’s. Fun fact: Duffy also told Marketing Brew that the idea for the turkey flavors came 100% from the marketing team.

This year’s Halloween candy marketing efforts will likely be a bit less of a stunt, mainly because it’s unclear what could be stranger than… all of that.

Other than adding two new flavors to the turkey dinner package, Brach’s isn’t making any major changes to its Halloween marketing strategy this year. and the familiarity of its products. The highlights of this year? An IRL activation and additional investments in e-commerce.

Halloween ghost past

Last year, Brach’s, which also makes other holiday-themed candies like conversation hearts, jelly candies and candy canes, observed that “e-commerce shifting” that all marketers are seeing retail could not help but speak.

But rather than jump on the direct-to-consumer (DTC) train, Duffy told us that Brach’s simply continued to partner with e-commerce engines like Kroger, GoPuff, Walmart, and Amazon to satisfy consumers who have shopped online. online rather than in-store. during this first pandemic fall. According to Duffy, he didn’t start working with e-commerce platforms until 2019.

This year, Duffy said, Brach’s continues to invest with its ecommerce partners (although it declined to provide exact numbers). The company expects buying behavior to “stay quite different” from what it was in 2019 for candy corn season. “A lot of people have just changed their ways and moved to shipped-to-home e-commerce,” she explained.

Despite observing the inflexibility of online shopping, Brach’s still isn’t creating its own DTC channel anytime soon, Duffy explained. But Emily Moquin, food and beverage analyst at Morning Consult, told us it’s normal in the seasonal grocery category.

“Selling direct to the consumer can be a huge investment for brands in terms of the back end and all of the logistics that needs to be in place to make it really work and also be profitable,” Moquin told us, adding that there are even more obstacles to a successful DTP branch with seasonal products like sweet corn. “It will not be viable for the company to provide this direct offering to consumers all year round if its sales increase in just one time of the year. “

Moquin added that the grocery store as a whole has “lagged behind other retail categories” in the shift to e-commerce, and that Brach’s is likely able to capitalize on the boom in online shopping in such a way. more strategic with its only e-commerce partners.

Double indicator

Along with the continued shift to e-commerce, Brach’s is also diving back into IRL events this year, as nothing in person has happened for the 2020 Halloween season.

Its parent company Ferrara, which also owns brands like Nerds and Trolli, has partnered up with experiential retailer / toy store CAMP for an activation that takes place virtually and in its stores.

Duffy said people can visit for “virtual stuff or treat activities” or visit Camp physical stores in places like New York City, Dallas and Los Angeles for “Halloween activities in person, including candy -corn gifts.

Ferrara has also sponsored the Chicago ‘Boo at the Zoo’ event since 2016.

Other than the return to physical events, Duffy doesn’t see a huge difference between the 2020 and 2021 marketing strategies for his seasonal sweet corn products. “I don’t know if we’re necessarily doing something very different. We always work with our retail partners to make sure our products are available in the retail space when people would normally expect them, ”she explained. Duffy pointed out that for seasonal products like sweet corn, it’s best to focus on tradition.

More treat than trick

It turns out to be a luxury, at least according to Moquin. Corn alone generates about half of Ferrera’s Halloween-related income, according to the company. Last year, its candy corn grossed more than $ 60 million, while retail sales of Ferrera’s chocolate-free candy as a whole reached $ 120 million.

Additionally, Duffy told us that consumers of candy corn have a high repeat rate of purchases throughout the Halloween season, which means they’re likely to buy more than once. by #spookyszn.

“In food and drink and the holiday season, there is such a strong connection to tradition and nostalgia. And some brands that can really build on that and don’t need to remind consumers how timely and relevant they are around Halloween or Thanksgiving, ”explained Moquin.

Duffy told us that social media is one of Brach’s main channels for promoting his candy corn product around Halloween. She said the “vast majority” of Brach’s social efforts here are organic, and Instagram is a primary marketing platform. But on a visit to Brach’s Instagram account, you’ll only find two posts on the grid since August 2021 … although both are indeed about sweet corn.

Moquin explained that because consumers are already looking for sweet corn, because it’s a “traditional food they associate with vacations,” Brach’s doesn’t need to innovate beyond its strategy in recent years. as long as they keep things consistent. “Not all brands are capable of doing this, but some have this luxury,” she said.

For example, every year there is a debate on social media as to whether sweet corn is a disgusting 1950s relic, or the best part of the trick or the treat. Brach’s could easily grab the brand’s attention if it intervened in this debate.

But Duffy told us that the brand tries to engage in more positive ways with its products, and the marketing team really doesn’t like to “engage with enemies”.