Candy manufacturers are continuing to find innovative ways to convince consumers to purchase more sweet treats. Last spring I blogged about how wedding planners were using candy buffet stations as a wedding accessory. Now, even powerhouse companies like Mars are selling directly to consumers, via www.mymms.com,  who want to purchase personalized M&M’s for special celebrations and to businesses who are looking for a unique marketing tool.

This move has not gone unnoticed by the competition. A recent New York Times articles highlights how the Hershey Company is introducing some variations on its own product lines. Ad campaigns are currently touting Almond Joy Pieces, York Pieces and Hershey’s Special Dark Pieces. The Hershey Company has been  using both live marketing events and TV to promote its new offerings which are essentially smaller and sometimes reformulated versions of long-standing favorite consumer treats.

These product extensions come as food manufacturers are under increasing scrutiny for contributing to the rate of obesity in the U.S. The firms must walk a fine line as they look for profits from new products while they appeal to health conscious consumers. Mintel analyst Marcia Modelonsky says that the concept of lower calorie treats and smaller servings can work well if firms don’t repeat the mistake made by Kraft when it introduced Nabisco Oreo Thin Crisps. Many devotees criticized the product because it didn’t include the cream filling, the entire reason many consumed the cookie.

Modelonsky indicates that the latest product offerings may do well in the marketplace where consumers, and moms, in particular, are looking for a way to control portions of sweets in their children’s diets. In any case, the new product introductions are an indication that food companies are looking for ways to grow sales and are willing to spend on ad campaigns to influence consumer purchases.

[Source: Newman, Andrew Adam. “Candy Makers cut the Calories, by Cutting the Size, New York Times, 2.16.2010]