The new-product landscape as glimpsed at the National Confectioners' All Candy Expo last week in Chicago wasn't for the faint of heart. Intense or "power mints," cited as the fastest-growing confectionery segment, rule.
Callard & Bowser-Suchard, Van Melle USA and others are moving further into that segment, attracted by what Information Resources Inc. pegs as a 15.3% growth rate in the $302 million breath-freshener category last year.
Ragold, maker of Velamints, is introducing "Dilbert"-themed intense mints packaged in tins with names such as Accomplish-Mints.
Kraft Foods' Callard & Bowser-Suchard unit, No. 3 in mints but with a 58% dollar sales hike last year, served up its Cinnamon Altoids extension and unveiled its female-targeted hard-candy line, La Vie de la Vosgienne (AA, June 21).
Its ad tagline, from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, will be "Say La Vie." One print ad, in wry Altoids-style, reads: "Gives other candies a packaging complex."
'FIRST CHEWY STRONG MINT'
Van Melle USA, maker of Mentos, is adding Mentos Cool Chews, billed as the "first chewy strong mint," while Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.'s Amurol Confections subsidiary is supporting its Everest rollout with an estimated $8 million to $10 million ad campaign from BBDO, Chicago.
Parent Wrigley will spend $15 million on marketing for its Eclipse, the gum it's rolling out that "quickly eliminates strong mouth odors." BBDO also handles that brand.
A major promotion is in the works for Lifesavers Co., which will tout its brand as having "a whole new role" in the millennium.
Through the promo, Lifesavers will invite consumers to vote-via the Internet or toll free phone line-on adding a strawberry, watermelon or pineapple flavor to its roll.
Nestle Chocolate USA, hyping the fact that "The toys are back in town" in its sales materials, is hopping on Walt Disney Co.'s "Toy Story II" with two new products, due in September: a Buzz Lightyear white chocolate bar with colored crisped rice and "Toy Story"-themed Sweetarts.
Nestle also is linking with Disney's new animated "Tarzan" movie for a Tarzan Treat candy bar, a milk-chocolate-and-banana Fun Pack and Tarzan Sweetarts.
In another movie tie-in, Hershey Foods Corp. in October will link with Universal Studios' "The Mummy" via couponing and a "Mummy's Gold" promotion that offers a top sweepstakes prize of $100,000 in gold.
Smaller confectioners are using the M&M's model to create characters they hope others will license. For example, Hammer Corp. has created an elaborate story behind its Too Tarts candy line, involving characters called the Dudes who fight "baditude" with "duditude." The company is hoping for a full line of Dudes products, including a comic book, clothing and a Dudes music CD.
Dudes may do battle with Foreign Candy Co.'s Bizzerks Quirks, six characters with names like Razz and Dizz created to promote a line of "Candies that fizz."
Also hot: "Toy-added" candy. Perhaps the best known is OddzOn's Cap Candy division, which has gone high-tech enough to transfer responsibility for its next-generation Sound Bites lollipop line to Tiger Electronics.
Tom Pritchard, Cap's general manager, pegged novelty interactive candy at $315 million and said it's growing at a 10% annual clip, a rate second only to power