Profits are in the bag

Hanging bags of confectionery

Ensuring the confectionery fixture has a strong offering of hanging bags and other sharing products is critical in a category that is growing more used to sharing. From chocolate to sugar confectionery, hanging bags are a major draw for consumers on a number of different missions.


One of the subtle changes to have taken place in confectionery fixtures recently is the increasing space given over to sharing bags. Whether down to the overarching trends for sharing, or the growth of the Big Night In mission, bagged confectionery is big business and retailers not making the most of this are missing out – that’s the message from suppliers.

Within this sub-category, sales of £589m have been recorded in the last year, with growth in independent stores of +5.5%.

Mars, which has four of the top five best-selling chocolate bag lines, says its £1 Treat Bags – which include Maltesers, Galaxy Minstrels, and M&M’s – are a key component of growth in this category.

“Bitesize chocolate has proven to be particularly popular with consumers, and is a major growth category for retailers,” says Bep Dhaliwal, Trade Communications Manager Mars Chocolate UK. “This positive trend across bitesize confectionery offers retailers a great opportunity to boost sales. Mars’ selection of bagged confectionery is a must-have, so make sure to stock-up on the best sellers. Ensure you have strong availability of these key lines and they are displayed in a prominent location to encourage sales.”

Ground-breaking gums

There’s been significant development at Haribo over the last couple of months with new products launching in both the main Haribo brand and on Maoam Stripes.

Maoam Stripes are getting extra bite with the national roll out of Sour Stripes. The roll out makes sense; the brand itself has grown +17.7% in 2014 and sour treats have grown +26% in the last two years.

Nadia Abou-Ragheb, Maoam Brand Manager, comments: “Our standard Stripes are performing really well, they make up almost a quarter of our sales volume and are experiencing growth ahead of the market. So in adding a sour twist, which continues to be a key trend, we are offering consumers an enticing new combination through Sour Stripes.”

Available in a range of pack formats, including a 180g bag price marked at just £1, MAOAM Sour Stripes contain individually wrapped sour apple, sour cherry, sour rhubarb and strawberry and sour peach flavoured chews.

This is also the last month that retailers can profit from Haribo Super Mix’s four guest stars. Little Jelly Men in Cola, Blueberry, Cherry and Melon flavours were introduced for a limited time ahead of a consumer vote for their favourite.

Lindsey Bevan, Brand Manager for Super Mix, comments: “Super Mix is famed for its Little Jelly Men and although we know that there is lots of love for our current flavours we wanted to add some excitement for consumers.

“By featuring flavours that you would not ordinarily find in Super Mix and encouraging votes for a chance to win great prizes, including iPad Minis, we can increase consumer engagement whilst also driving incremental sales for retailers.”

Cadbury is another name frequently seen in the hanging bag fixture and it recently moved two of its top-selling bitesize products into a new 80g £1 PMP. Giant Buttons and Bitsa Wispa have had a strong start and Declan Duggan, Brand Manager for Bitesize at Mondelez International, comments: “We believe that the launch of the two new 80g PMP packs will help to increase consumer confidence and drive impulse purchasing.”

It’s not just chocolate that fills these shelves either and Mondelez is therefore a strong performer thanks to its Maynards brands, and more recently, the ongoing success of Marvellous Creations.

Wrigley too is a major player in this area. A major development coming from the Skittles and Starburst brand owner is the launch of a new bottle format for its original Skittles Fruits variant. In what could be considered as a natural evolution of the hanging bag sub-category, Wrigley says the new bottle taps into the growing demand for confectionery products on the go. The red container is designed to stand out on shelf, with a re-sealable lid. The thinking from Wrigley comes with bottles being the second most impulsive confectionery purchase format (55%), meaning that the innovative new pack offers a great sales opportunity for retailers.

Bags of profit

While the timeless Millar Pan Drops remains Millar’s top selling brand, the full range from Millar now comprises 25 SKUs including 17 different bagged sweets. Millar reports that in many retail outlets Pan Drops is the best-selling bagged sweets in store.

The range is distinctively packaged, with a fresh modern pack design, which helps create strong stand out on shelf. Aside from Pan Drops, other best sellers include Chocolate Limes, Strawberry Bon Bons and Mint Imperials.

John Kerr, Director of The JFK Partnership, which is responsible for sales to both the independent and multiple sector, said: “Millar is performing extremely well. It’s an iconic Scottish brand, with something to please everyone with a sweet tooth. Millar Pan Drops’ rate of sale is such that it really is a must-stock confectionery line in Scotland.

We’re delighted to support trade customers who want to make the most of merchandising Millar, and have a limited number of display stands available for retailers who want to carry a wide range of products, and are really looking to make an impact. These work particularly well on end displays close to the paypoint, as bagged confectionery is so often an impulse purchase.”

Another firm which has been long-established in the bagged snacks market long before the Big Night In became a major selling point for retailers is Golden Casket. The Scottish company’s £OnePounders range, for example, is a staple of convenience and is a consistently strong seller. The range includes a huge number of SKUs and continues to expand. For retailers, creating a display of £OnePounders can pay dividends.

This on the go consumption certainly provides a new revenue stream and it is one that retailers must be aware of. Wrigley spearheaded the development of chewing gum bottles, with its Extra brand, predominantly.

“A complete night in solution is crucial. Remember to focus on products that are ideal for sharing such as Starburst ‘Tear and Share’ Pouches, which are great as they are individually wrapped and offer a variety of flavours for everyone to enjoy,” says Wrigley. “Building a clear display that communicates the ‘Big Night In’ occasion will also draw shoppers into the fixture and cross category promotions will certainly encourage incremental purchases.”

Starburst partners Teenage Cancer Trust

In the first project of its kind for the brand, Starburst is partnering with Teenage Cancer Trust to raise funds for the charity and awareness of the valuable work it does looking after teenagers and young adults. Running across Starburst Original 45g sticks, Starburst Original 165g and 192g sharing bags & Starburst FaveReds 165g sharing bags, the partnership will see a donation made to the charity with every promotional stick or sharing bag sold. The promotional packs will be distributed until the end of May, with Starburst pledging a minimum £200,000 donation. All Starburst packs featured in the campaign will adopt a Teenage Cancer Trust promotional design, including ‘Help us raise a juicy sum for Teenage Cancer Trust’ flashed across the top.

Away from the main manufacturers, a host of other brands have products well suited to a hanging bag fixture. One of these is Candyland from Tangerine Confectionery.

Gillian Clarke, Senior Brand Manager at Tangerine Confectionery, comments: “Hanging bags are important to retailers, as they offer a great value options for consumers, looking for their favourite products at keen price points. Good visual merchandising and positioning of these hanging bags is key to supporting sales and maximising product visibility. Impulse lines should be positioned in a prime location with items clearly visible and attractively displayed.”

As Clarke says, hanging bags can fit anywhere from car journeys to those treats to have in the cupboard, for when you just want a little something and so with hanging bags available in a range of sizes and all different product types, the demand is there on a number of other occasions.

A word from Woodlands

Sharing bags are massive sellers in Woodlands Local, with chocolate and sugar proving popular. Having multiple specific fixtures for hanging bags has worked wonders opposite the main confectionery fixture and right next to the till. Similarly, a gondola end with Golden Casket and Buchanan’s products is ensuring consistent sales.

Over the last six months the most ppupular chocolate hanging bag is Milkybar Buttons, followed by Minstrels and M&M Chocolate Standard bags. Completing the top five are Cadbury Chocolate Éclair and Poppets Movie Mix. We’ve been selling an average of 25 bags a week of premium chocolate hanging bags.

This pales when compared with sugar where the average weekly unit sales are around 40. Top seller is Maynards Sports Mix followed by Haribo Starmix. Maynards and Haribo battle it out throughout the top five with Midget Gems at number three, Tangfastics at number four and Wine Gums at number five.

Candyland is tapping into the growing consumer demand for sour confectionery products by launching a new version of the classic Wham bar.

The new Wham Super Sour Minis (200g, rrp £1.29) come in a sharing bag and boast miniature, sour versions of the traditional Wham chew bars, bringing a mix of super tangy flavours to the market for consumers. Containing three different flavours – original, sour apple and sour raspberry – the sharing bags capitalise on the growing popularity of taste bud-tingling flavours, along with the ever expanding chew market.

Sarah-Louise Heslop, Marketing Manager at Swizzels, agrees that more consumers than ever are looking for sharing bags as they offer more variety and value for money and are perfect for a ‘Big Night In’. “Swizzels boasts a wide selection of leading variety packs and bigger sharing bags that meet consumer needs when it comes to sharing bagged confectionery,” she says.

Top selling bags

  • CDM Giant Buttons (Bitesize Treat Bag)
  • Maltesers (Bitesize Treat Bag)
  • Maltesers (Bitesize Pouch)
  • Galaxy Minstrels (Bitesize Treat Bag)
  • Galaxy Minstrels (Bitesize Pouch)
  • M&M’s Peanut (Bitesize Pouch)
  • Revels (Bitesize Treat Bag)
  • Milkybar Giant Buttons (Bitesize Treat Pouch)
  • Revels (Bitesize Pouch)
  • M&M’s Peanut (Bitesize Treat Bag)
  • M&M’s Crispy (Bitesize Pouch)
  • M&M’s Milk Chocolate (Bitesize Pouch)
  • CDM Giant Buttons (Bitesize Large Bag)
  • Milky Way Magic Stars (Bitesize Pouch)
  • Milkybar Giant Buttons (Bitesize Pouch)

Overall, Gums and Jellies account for 45% of total sales and is growing by £1.5m year on year. And, one for retailers to note is that thanks to the strong growth of its Squashies range, Swizzels is the fastest growing manufacturer within Gums and Jellies.

The bagged range sees retro brands such as Love Hearts, Drumstick Lollies, Double Lollies and New Refreshers transformed into a softer gum version. Sales have grown continually since launch and a bag of Squashies is sold on average every 2.6 seconds. Swizzels has recently extended the popular Squashies range with the launch of a new Drumstick Squashies Sour Cherry and Apple variant.

Squashies are available in a variety of formats from £1 price marked packs to countline bags to meet all consumer eating occasions. The £1 price-marked bags make it easy for customers to work out how much they can spend, and are perfect for sharing.

Top 5 tips on boosting sharing sales

Have the range in the right place

Before even knowing what to sell, it is important for retailers to look at how to make the most of the sales opportunity. Many retailers have found success by using a metre (or in some cases more) of their confectionery fixture exclusively for hanging bags. When this space is identified, look at where you could take advantage of dual siting – dumpbins, spare space on columns, there are always corners where impulse purchases can be highlighted, By ensuring that the range is in an area with high footfall and dual sited with other Big Night In lines, you’re all set to start cashing in.

Getting the right range in place

When it comes to getting the right range in place, take a look at the best sellers across the country (see panel on left) but also study your own EPoS data and look at the top selling brands in confectionery. Concentrate your range on a combination of these best sellers.

Make the fixture stand out

Creating strong stand out is key to ensuring customers are drawn towards the fixture. The fundamentals of category management come into play here and it is critical to ensure the fixture is well stocked, and no gaps appear. By having bags hanging then facing up is less of an issue, but keeping the fixture tidy is more of a challenge as customers are more prone to lift products and place them back in the wrong place. Have a member of staff keep a close eye on the fixture every time they pass.

Utilise promotions and PMPs

Price marked packs play a big role in sharing bags – with a particular focus on £1 lines. Stock a range of £1 lines, but also larger, more expensive products, to help drive revenues while continuing to offer great value. Using promotions to your advantage here too is hugely beneficial.

Work with suppliers

Speak to suppliers on a regular basis for advice and updates on their sharing bags range. If you get store visits from confectionery companies ask them what they think of the fixture and what tips they could offer to improve sales.