For many, sweets represent celebration for when times are good and comfort for when they are not. Whether it be chocolate, snacks, or candy, the confectionary industry is much more than just tasty treats. They are packaged goods that require a convincing and compelling presentation. Read on to learn about the latest industry trends in 2021 and the “next normal”.

A Growing Industry

The chocolate market is expected to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.5% between the years of 2021 and 2026, according to Mordor Intelligence. While COVID-19 squeezed margins, and with it, wallets, consumers found comfort in treating themselves to the occasional confectionary indulgence. In-home consumption grew as many consumers purchased their sweets in bulk. Who can resist a Costco-sized bag of candy?

Treat Yourself

As the pandemic-related restrictions are eased, one might think the days of indulgence are over. As people get off the couch and prepare to see each other face-to-face, it’s not a stretch to believe that healthy diets will replace indulgent ones. Does this mean the confectionary industry should be worried? As Mordor Intelligence indicates above, this is not likely. The demand for chocolate and snacks is here to stay. However, 57% of consumers stated that health and wellbeing always or often influences their purchasing decisions (GlobalData).

Healthy Habits & Guilt-Free Consumption

Sweets are not always the anti-health option. 52% of consumers are actively looking for tips on personal health and wellbeing as a result of the pandemic – offering brands a unique opportunity to engage with consumers (GlobalData). Confectionary brands can participate in health-forward trends by offering clean ingredients, health-conscious options, and guilt-free alternatives.

In fact, confectionary brands are already offering alternative options for sweet toothed, health-conscious consumers. For example, they are incorporating Stevia, a natural sweetener used to replace standard sugar. Others are increasingly offering low and reduced sugar options. Some consumers are opting for dark chocolate, citing its antioxidants and minerals as a healthier option. Substituting sugar and using more natural ingredients doesn’t make chocolate a “healthy” snack, but it does enable more guilt-free enjoyment. Indulging just became that much sweeter.

Being Transparent

Consumers are looking for clean ingredients and natural products. Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products states, “67% of Global consumers want to know more about where their chocolate comes from and what is in it. ” They’re increasingly more aware of and concerned about the ingredients they’re putting into their bodies and how their confectionary goodies effect the environment and the wellbeing of the producers’ workers. Many consumers start prioritizing their overall wellness by limiting their sugar, fat, and salt intake (Candy Industry). Rather than omitting sweets and snacks entirely, consumers are willing to pay more for healthier options with natural ingredients and fair trade and labor practices.

Packaging is Important

Packaging matters when it comes to confectionary products. In fact, 72% of consumers report packaging has an influence on the purchasing decisions they make (Global News Wire). The look, feel, and color of packaging are very important as it’s often the first experience a consumer has with the product. Consumers are inclined to make snap decisions based on visual appeal, thus making designing eye-catching packaging imperative. Let’s look at some specific confectionary packaging trends. 

Make it Personal

Personalization demonstrates thoughtfulness and is well-received. For example, you can personalize a message or incorporate the name of a loved one if you’re buying or sending a gift. Consumers and businesses often send personalized gifts to show their appreciation for one another.

Changing of the Seasons

Seasonality is great for brands. You can customize confectionary packaging to fit the aesthetic for Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day or other holidays and events. Seasonal packaging appeals to consumers and makes their treat feel novel for the specific season or occasion, even if it’s the same treat they already know and love.

Flexible Packaging

Flexible packaging is dominating the confectionary market and providing versatility for brands. Packaging is a perfect canvas for displaying artwork, labels, and other identifiers. “Flexible packaging allows for 360 degrees of branding, is lightweight, unbreakable and offers many options like stand-up, reseal, and even sustainable material options,” ePac Flexible Packaging states. Flexible packaging offers an opportunity to be unique and thereby draw purchasers to products.

Novelty is Where it’s At

“71% of North American consumers want to try new and exciting chocolate experiences.” Barry Callebaut’s Top Chocolate Trends 2021 & Beyond – North America Edition report states. Brands are responding to this increased demand by expanding their number of SKUs. New products are a differentiator in the market and entice consumers with options and innovative flavors or variations of their favorite products.

Success Through Digitalization

With all the changes in confectionary products and their packaging, you need tools to overcome bottlenecks in review and approval cycles, slow speed-to-market, and lengthy packshot processes. WebCenter from Esko | Brand Solutions provides a workflow management tool focusing on all aspects of packaging artwork: shape, brand colors, and content. It manages packaging artwork specifications, approvals, and project life cycle. WebCenter integrates with interactive artwork inspection tools to drive quality control in an end-to-end platform.

Automated packshots from Esko eliminate the need for physical prototypes and photoshoots. They’re created using computer generated imagery (CGI), which produces photorealistic images straight from your design files, usable for all e-commerce purposes. Studio Packshots lowers costs, enables efficiencies for faster turnaround times, and creates flawless product imagery. Together, these software solutions help you stay on-trend while streamlining your internal efficiencies.

In conclusion, the confectionary industry is constantly changing to keep pace with consumers’ ever-fluctuating desires. Meeting trends efficiently differentiates you in the marketplace. How you package your products influences consumers to pluck them off the shelves.

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