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Tisn’t the season: How to stay relevant outside key seasons – Jelly Belly offers advice

By Oliver Nieburg+

26-Mar-2014

When the Easter bunny is on break how can confectioners prevent a sales dip? Photo Credit: Miguel Pimentel
When the Easter bunny is on break how can confectioners prevent a sales dip? Photo Credit: Miguel Pimentel

Confectioners can reduce reliance on the big seasons with packaging and formats that outlast one day events, licensing deals and distribution at holiday hot spots, according to Jelly Belly.

“Jelly Belly has managed to stay relevant all year long. We do get a spike at Easter, but our sales are not disproportionately weighted towards Easter like the category,” Robert Swaigen, vice president of marketing for the company told ConfectioneryNews.

While Halloween is the biggest season for the overall US confectionery sector, around 50% of sales in the jelly bean category come in the four weeks before Easter, making it the biggest season for Jelly Belly, just ahead of Christmas.

But Swaigen said: “We have so many different types of packages and points of distribution that we stay in front of the consumer pretty much year round.”

But for the sector almost a quarter of sales come at one-day seasonal events. US seasonal confectionery sales amounted to $7.2bn in 2013 and accounted for 21% of overall confectionery sales, according to data from the National Confectioners Association (NCA).

Why are jelly beans so popular at Easter?

According to Jelly Belly, jelly beans have been an iconic Easter treat since around the 1930s along with chocolate bunnies. They were a seasonal only confection for decades due to their egg-like appearance, and in-store displays using the beans in nests. Jelly Belly changed that seasonality in 1976 by creating an all-year round confection. 

Adaptable packaging choices

“The trade, as much as it excels at these big spikes, if it’s a one day program it can be scary too because if it’s too directed towards Father’s Day and only Father’s Day, then what do you do the day after? So we try to come up with some longer seasonal programs that work over longer periods," said Swaigen. 

This approach was recently used by Hershey , which packaged its Halloween candy in Fall colors to prolong the life of the products.

Earlier this year, Jelly Belly launched its ‘Party Collection’ of individual flavor packages that allow consumers to choose a single color matching a party theme.

Choice through innovation

Jelly Belly has also been able to carry appeal outside key seasons because of the sheer scale of choice it offers. At the recent ISM trade show, the company launched 50 new products including a world’s first beer flavored jelly bean.

Jelly Belly sells individual colors as part of its Party Collection, which allows consumers use the product for a personalized occasion.

The company hopes the draft beer jelly bean will carry appeal as a Super Bowl snack or as a Father’s Day gift.

Holiday hotspots

At last year’s NCA State of the Industry Conference, Print Cates, vice president of product management for J. Sosnick & Son, said that summer could be the fifth big season for confectioners.

 “Various locations in amusement parks are a great summer opportunity,” said Tomi Holt, director of communications at Jelly Belly. “It doesn’t have to be seasonal per se; it’s just locations of the places where people are enjoying their summer.”

Jelly Belly licenses help the brand to have year-round appeal.

Jelly Belly also has licensing partnerships that help it stay relevant out of season. For example, it has a deal with Disney that allows it to launch products marketed alongside new movies.

Other licensing deals include Hello Kitty, Harry Potter and McIlhenny Company Tabasco, which helps the company attract customers beyond Easter and Christmas.