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Tuesday, May 27, 2008
M&M’s come out of their shell
DANDY CANDY They’re latest chocolate brand to sweeten appeal to fashion
May 26, 2008

BY CHERYL V. JACKSON cjackson@suntimes.com

M&M's are delivering a statement for those who find the red, yellow or green shells of the regular candies not fashionable enough.
The maker of M&M's, already the nation's most consumed chocolate brand, is using premium chocolate, dressing it in a marbleized candy shell to resemble gemstones (one color per box), and packaging it in an hour-glass-shaped box — an overture to women, who buy the most chocolate.


This is the M&M’s Premium booth at the All Candy Expo at McCormick Place last week. The maker is catering to the fastest-growing chocolate segment. (Keith Hale/Sun-Times)


It's the fastest-growing segment of the chocolate business. Sales of premium chocolate, which generally has a higher cacao content, grew 129 percent from 2001 to 2006, to $2 billion, according to marketing research group Mintel. Mintel expects the market to increase by another 73 percent by 2011.

"When you look at the landscape and the workplace, premiumization is evolving a lot. Look at the types of cars we buy to the coffee we drink; these are more everyday items, and the average American can have easy access to the premium items," Bowling said.

Mars' Dove brand, which is extending its Promises line to include bananas foster, tiramisu and dark chocolate with almond flavors, is the category leader.

Hershey, taking aim at the bagged premium chocolate category, launched Bliss in March. The company is tying the product to the May 30 opening of the "Sex and the City" movie.
Hershey recently began making Starbucks-branded chocolates.
"We did have this trade-up segment, and people have wondered where we were," said Jody Cook, spokesperson for the Hershey Co.
M&M's Premiums will come in mocha, triple chocolate, raspberry almond, chocolate almond and mint chocolate flavors and will sell for about $4 a box beginning in June.

M&M's have been undergoing lower-scale variety changes, as well, with flavors like cherry and last summer's raspberry among limited-edition releases. The brand currently has a limited edition of mint crisps, a tie-in with the latest Indiana Jones film.

Limited edition offerings allow the company to assess potential permanent additions, Bowling said.
Dark chocolate was a limited-edition flavor that's now in the regular lineup.
Hershey's Kisses chocolate also is changing flavors more frequently. For about 80 years, the Kisses came in a single variety, the original solid milk chocolate. An almond flavor was launched in 1990, followed by Hugs — a chocolate Kiss wrapped in white chocolate — in 1993, and other varieties since, some as limited editions.

Dark chocolate began as a limited-edition flavor in 2002 and became a permanent offering a year later.
Hershey's also works with stores to create exclusive flavors. Last fall, only Target carried its candy corn Kisses. This year, the flavor will be available to other retailers.

Hershey's has an almond variety of its new Bliss candy offered only at Wal-Mart stores.
"It's a relationship builder," Cook said.
http://www.suntimes.com/business/970926,candy052608.article


by: Woodstock Candy

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