With Indian consumers looking out for the most fun and enjoyable products, confectionery manufacturers need to innovate with new and novel shapes, textures, flavours and packs. Innovation in these areas remains a key to brand success. However, flavour and pricing have emerged as the most important factors in the category with companies trying to capture audiences and play by the rules of innovation on these fronts. For instance, Perfetti Van Melle India, as a category leader in sugar confectionery, takes great pride in setting up the trends as well as creating more occasions for confectionery consumption.
The company feels that ‘out of home’ or ‘on the go’ packs are likely to take a large part of teens and adult consuming confectionery products. “In line with the current trends, the Indian consumer would be introduced to newer formats across the jelly and chewy segments. Perfetti Van Melle India foresees the confectionery category to grow on the back of double digit growth in the chewing gums and mints segments. The Eclairs segment will also contribute to accelerate the category growth,” says Rajesh Ramakrishnan, Managing Director, Perfetti Van Melle India.
Today, the category is fuelled by the sizeable proportion of young consumers who have adventurous palates and are looking for novel varieties of confectionery products. At the same time, chocolate innovation is increasingly being influenced by a wider variety of other food and drink categories, among them salty snacks, biscuits, and sugar and gum. This means that mainstream brands should be looking to experiment with premium markers such as cocoa content and provenance, as the mass market catches up with high-end producers.
With increasing health awareness levels among consumers, the confectionery sector is expected to witness a growing demand for functional chocolates that are high in nutritional value. Health consciousness has certainly caught the attention of manufacturers, as a result of which the market is seeing cereal bars being introduced, which are currently amongst the fastest growing category in the Indian confectionery market, even as toffees, candies, caramels and nougat continue to record the fastest growth.
“The growing popularity of natural ingredients, which are free from artificial flavours and preservatives in food is boosting the demand for confectionery products. Manufacturers must therefore position their products as a healthy offering rather than just a gourmet treat, in order to cater to a wider consumer base, says Amit Lohani, MD, Max Foods, and Convenor, Forum of Indian Food Importers. “Consumers are so health-conscious today that they seek health and well being in everything they consume, including confectionery. Now they are demanding sugar-free candies and chocolates. The confectionery segment has been witnessing new product launches and is an important section for any retailer as it targets children, adults, young and old, but I feel that the category requires more visibility and a stronger positioning,” adds Lohani.
Mohit Arora, Director of Kipps Mart, the hugely popular grocery supermarket in Ludhiana, feels that “brands should focus on spending on promoting candies, toffees and chocolates, because this segment remains inactive and lacks attention in comparison to other categories.” Also, for better category management, brands need to go beyond in-store branding and cash in on opportunities to partner with like-minded retailers. “We will continue to take initiatives in collaborating with forward thinking retailers to build the confectionery category with sustainable growth and by sharing our global learnings in shopper research, category insights and the understanding of upcoming consumer trends,” states Perfetti’s Ramakrishnan.
Going forward, confectionery players will keep trying different formats as well as keep up the momentum on taste sampling in their product development process. Category leaders and newer players who want to grab a bigger share of the consumer wallet will have to keep innovation at the core of their product conceptualising and manufacturing to come up with iconic brands and products.