Rather than marketing all candy as a destination stop, some retailers are emphasizing one segment, whether it's seasonal, instantly consumable, novelty, boxed or bulk.
Of the retailers polled by SN, most said they are not designating candy as a "destination" category as defined by Efficient Consumer Response and category management theories.
For example, shoppers at Food Lion stores can expect promotions for take-home, instant consumable, seasonal and specialty/ novelty candy, said Cecily Durrett, assistant manager of corporate communications at the Salisbury, N.C.-based chain.
"Food Lion wishes to be considered as the preferred provider of in-home nonseasonal candy by delivering consistent, competitive value to our customers," she said.
Consistency is carried through in the retailer's marketing choices, which include in-store and out-of-store promotional efforts.
Stores use secondary displays to increase the visibility of candy and to capitalize on impulse purchases. Temporary displays are also used when Food Lion holds high-traffic promotional events, such as tie-ins with the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing and Children's Miracle Network.
"Our in-store marketing activities also include hot promotional pricing utilizing our MVP frequent-shopper program and in-store demos," Durrett added.
Outside the store, consumers can expect Food Lion to feature candy ads in its weekly circular and in-ad coupons.
Others chains are working to develop their sections as a seasonal destination stop. Some do so by heavily advertising candy during certain holidays, such as Easter. Star Market Co., Cambridge, Mass., for instance, ran a full-page ad last year to promote a wide assortment of Easter selections. The ad pictured a plush rabbit surrounded by baskets filled with sweets.
Stop & Shop Cos., Quincy, Mass., also ran a full-page ad for the holiday, featuring books, toys -- and lots of candy.
Meanwhile, uniform merchandising and aisle placement strategies help some chains to further demonstrate their commitment to consistency and value.
According to Durrett, most of Food Lion's candy sections are 20 to 24 linear feet -- 12 to 16 feet for laydown candy and 8 feet for pegged items. There is also an overhead peg section for multipacks of gum and mints.
"The best-selling national brands are prominently positioned, as well as our private-label line of peg candy items," she added.
When shoppers enter a Food Lion store, they will find the gondola candy section within the first three aisles of the shopping pattern. "Since candy is primarily purchased on impulse, Food Lion locates the candy section in a high-traffic aisle to capitalize on this high degree of impulse purchase," Durrett said.
Because candy is renowned for its properties as an impulse category, other retailers are also merchandising candy in high-traffic areas.
For example, Nob Hill Foods, Gilroy, Calif., is adding to its candy displays in new stores and remodels, Bridgette Jones, spokeswoman for the chain, told SN.
"A new direction we are taking is to place a 4-foot- by-4-foot endcap on the front end [to encourage] more impulse buying," she said.
The chain also plans to experiment in selected stores with upscale chocolate and nonchocolate bulk candy, using a wall and walkaround fixtures, because the key to building candy sales, Jones said, is to "create as many opportunities as possible for an impulse sale."
Traditional Nob Hill stores already merchandise candy in areas other than an aisle gondola. For example, Jelly Belly jelly beans are merchandised in endcap fixtures, in addition to upscale chocolates, in the store's bakery department.
Take-home candy, including large-size bars and laydown bags, is found in a 20-foot gondola space, while candy meant for immediate consumption is merchandised on an 8-foot gondola at the front end. This display is placed either parallel or perpendicular to the checkstands, Jones said.
As with Nob Hill's strategy of merchandising bulk candy to increase candy sales, Big Y Foods, Springfield, Mass., moved its bulk candy department from produce to grocery. "As a result, the candy and fixture program we instituted brought a lot of excitement, attention and sales to the department," said Tom Yarrows, category manager.
The fixture contains 48 flavors of bulk candies, and accommodates hanging bags of Big Y's store brand priced at 99 cents.
The chain plans to roll out the fixture in new stores and in existing stores where it makes sense, Yarrows told SN.
Potentially taking its stores in a different direction, Martin's Super Markets, South Bend, Ind., is testing a program in one store. Candy normally merchandised on the in-line gondola has been moved into the first grocery aisle, "so candy is the first thing the customer will see," said Shelia Kennedy, merchandising associate at the chain.
"We would like to see if this has any effect in increasing regular sales," she added.
Martin's has begun paying more attention to candy of late and plans to increase its variety. In some existing stores, Kennedy said the chain increased the amount of footage dedicated to candy because volume increased. Most stores allow 16 to 24 feet for their in-line sections, she added.
To further raise awareness, the chain advertises candy on a regular basis in its weekly newspaper ad, she added.
The advantage to targeting candy is that "you are getting customers to put candy on their grocery lists and they are coming to the store to buy candy," Kennedy said.
Pushing confections year-round is part of Tidyman's strategy to keep 80% of its shoppers buying candy. Rhonda Ketron, candy promotions buyer at the Greenacres, Wash.-based chain, said she runs four to six promotions on a monthly basis pushing count bars and snack-size items.
Shoppers have access to the products merchandised in a "high-profile section found in the front of the stores across from the checkstands and near the bread," Ketron added.