With other product forms like chocolate-coated cereal bars and filled biscuits increasingly nibbling away at the sweet-eating occasion, the consumer looks to confectionery manufacturers for more indulgent temptations - delicious, emotionally satisfying tastes that fulfil the ‘mini treat for me’ occasion when only chocolate will do.
It is a need that the market is clearly meeting. Average consumer ratings for new confectionery products rose steadily through the late 1990s, reaching a peak of 43 (out of a maximum 50) in early 2003. Since then the norm has settled back one point, but it remains the second highest in our database of 89 food and drink categories - testament to the enduring appeal of chocolate for the British public, despite the mantra of eating more healthily.
It is also a category that thrives on new ideas. There has been a steady stream of innovation over the past three years from the top three manufacturers, accelerating into 2005 with 14 new products tested up to early September alone. Spearheaded by Nestlé with a strong flow of brand extensions and character merchandise-linked products, not all have hit the mark with consumers, partly because chocoholics are very much wedded to their favourite Cadbury or Galaxy taste.
One new Nestlé idea in tune with the market - at least at the concept level - was Little Notions, aimed at personal treating occasions among 20 to 34-year-old women. While the target group responded to the idea, the concept was let down by the product we tested - Lemon Cheesecake Fingers. Treating seems inseparable from chocolate, particularly if the trend is to cut down. Trying to satisfy this need with cake, wafer and yoghurt-based products didn’t seem to match the promise - or justify the premium price.
Aimed at the gap between everyday and luxury, this new block chocolate succeeded in looking and tasting different but remained affordable at 99p. The rating matched the current category maximum.
Does what it says on the pack - three extremely sour fruit flavours in one multipack. Strongly rated by seven to 14-year-old kids. Most parents would buy at least occasionally on a supermarket shop.
Adult testers were more excited than the juniors by this Wonka chocolate spin-off. Although the chocolate/fudge combination proved to be “too sickly” for them, the juniors loved it.
More polarising than traditional confectionery flavours, but appealing for younger adults. Too strong and sweet for many, but most (93%) expected to notice this new variety in-store.
Breath-freshening liquid mints that appealed to the 18 to 34-year-old age group. But the mint taste was criticised as “harsh” and the rubbery orbs remained in the mouth once it had gone.
Immediately compared to Crunchie, this Australian version is finer in texture but lacks the Cadbury taste. Few rejected the idea of buying it, with over half claiming they would buy monthly or more often.
Manufacturers respond with innovation as chocoholics seek treats
Put to the test: six recent launches (maximum score 50)Galaxy Promises - Caramel Crunch Score: 48 Category average: 42
Chewits Extremely Sour Score: 34 Category average: 42
Wonka Whipple Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight Score: 37 Category average: 42
Aero - Irish Cream Score: 37 Category average: 42
Polo Liquid Orbs Score:23 Category average: 42
Nestlé Golden Crumble Score:44 Category average: 42
Produced for The Grocer by Cambridge Fast Foodfax, an independent standardised new product testing service where a sample of 50 consumers rate new products across 10 key performance measures. Maximum score 50. Details on www.fast-foodfax.com.