consumer packaged goods

Sweetest Time Of The Year: Seasonal Confectionery Trends



Is there a right way to eat a candy cane? Which chocolate shape are holiday shoppers most likely to place in their carts?

A recently published report from the National Confectioners Association delves into such questions as it examines consumer holiday candy trends. The trade organization worked with 210 Analytics on the report, which surveyed 1,5000 consumers designed to be nationally representative.

The winter holidays are especially important to confectionary brands, as this is the time of year people are most likely to reach for chocolate and other sweets to revel in the holiday spirit.

According to the survey, 93% of Americans plan to indulge in chocolate and candy treats with family and friends during the holidays. Winter holiday chocolate and candy products led to $5.6 billion in retail sales in traditional channels in 2022, according to the NCA, easily eclipsing other seasonal holidays.



“Seasonal treating is an important part of these traditions for families across the country and around the world -- whether playing dreidel for chocolate coins, adorning a Christmas tree with candy canes or delivering a gift to a loved one,” NCA President and CEO  John Downs said in a statement.

The report demonstrated the emotional connections behind consumer behaviors, with 94% of respondents saying seasonal chocolate and candy are part of making great memories, and 95% of consumers citing emotional well-being as equally important to physical health. Ninety percent of consumers considered such seasonal treats an affordable part of holiday celebrations.

Some findings also suggest ways CPG brands can effectively connect with consumers as they engage in holiday shopping, including highlighting the importance of holiday displays and novelty. Eighty-seven percent of consumers in the survey agreed that such displays helped remind them to purchase chocolate or candy, while 88% said they made grocery shopping more fun, and 88% also said they liked to see new products when shopping for seasonal chocolate.

As to where consumers are shopping, 76% reported shopping for seasonal chocolate or candy at supercenters and 67% said they make some purchases at grocery stores. Nearly half of consumers (49%) said they make such purchases online.

The report also highlighted the importance of seasonal holidays overall to the industry, with sales during the four big seasonal holidays for the industry -- Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, and the winter holidays -- generating 64% of annual chocolate and candy sales. Halloween, unsurprisingly, is closest to meeting the winter holidays’ impact, with around $5 billion in retail sales in traditional channels.

So, is there a right way to eat a candy cane? A slight majority (55%) said they eat candy canes straight-end first, with 28% opting for the curved end and 17% breaking it into pieces. Consumers had a clear preference for classic peppermint for candy cane flavors, with 73% preferring it to alternatives. When it comes to preferred shape for foil-wrapped chocolate, Santa won the day at 46%, compared to 30% for coins and 24% for snowmen.

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