Category Archives: specialty retail

The Americanization Of Popular Candy Retail

In order to successfully Americanize the innovative idea of modern candy and confectionery retail, the objective had to be an almost, but not quite, exaggerated variety of candy products, many choices of distinct and exciting candy flavors and experiences, including nostalgic, popular and even exotic hard and novelty candies.

To meet this objective a promising concept had to offer hundreds of different and well assorted self-service products that would succeed on a broad range of  impulses, memories and taste preferences of their potential customers. All of this had to be achieved in commercially justifiable self-service retail environments of in-line stores of not more than 600 to 800 square feet or, in more compact form, in a walk-around self-service kiosk with a 120 to 150 sq. ft. footprint.

Ideally, the breakdown of product mix would be approx. 50% wrapped and unwrapped bulk candies, both of these products producing the lion share of margins among the entire mix, 40% novelty candies because of their unbeatable popularity among younger buyers, plus 10% more upscale gifts for adults and special occasions.

Seasonal and visual merchandising changes would be made relatively frequently, first, to give the customers new choices of products and, second but equally important, to spontaneously create newly exciting retail atmospheres and invitations for the potential passer-by to stop, take a closer look and indulge him- or herself.

Candy retail history had demonstrated that lack of creative changes and samplings of product offerings and persistent enhancements of visual displays resulted in consumers’ perception of “wasting, stale and redundant” candies, which, in turn, did not offer sufficient incentive for a consumer to browse and spend his / her money. As a consequence of the traditional full service retail approach at arm’s length, only well known and the most basic and common candies in a limited selection sold without markedly increasing retail revenues and profits over a period of many lost decades. The Candico Theater would change all this dramatically and in a very, very short time span.

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“Take Common Candy And Make It Uncommon!”

  • The realization of this paraphrased quote from John D. Rockefeller’s words, “Take Something Common and make it Uncommon!”, presented a once-in-a-life creative window of opportunity when Petersen began to build on his observations at that fateful time in Hamburg, Germany.The quote represents the essence of Petersen’s visionary candy retail concept and a newly invented and powerful niche business was being developed and started soon.
  • Hard candies, soft gummies and candy novelties had been retailing for decades with a low profile and restrained image, mostly with full service from behind cash counters at an obscure distance from the customer. This undefined product presentation and the lack of immediate visibility of, and access to, the candy products, more so in America than in Europe, totally missed what we refer to today as an “in-your-face” presentation that prompts consumers to impulse purchases and to repeat visits to their favorite source of candy and confectionery.
  • During two years of observation and research of the candy retail industry Petersen realized that the potential of the mini-candy-store concept in Hamburg could be vastly improved by injecting some basic but crucial conceptual and operational ingredients for the American marketplace. These included, above all, self-service pick & mix retail from a large variety of bulk, novelty, gift and seasonal candies and confectioneries, a high margin single price policy at 1/4 pound for all bulk candies, proprietary and hygienic self-service retail fixtures, plus upbeat store design and interactive environment in popular and high-traffic locations.

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A Dandy Candy Business Opportunity Too Sweet To Pass!

While researching candy business opportunities in Germany in the early 1980s, Klaus Petersen created and developed the retail concept of self-service bulk candy.

At that time, Petersen was the president and chief executive of a leading international corporation. He was also in search of professional independence, and a more rewarding personal and financial career.

Eventually, the idea of bulk candy retail, and Petersen’s enhanced vision of it, rapidly and literally revolutionized the candy retail scene.  Petersen’s newly minted motto, “World’s Sweetest Fun”, gave rise to new business opportunities in the candy industry.

Candy Retail In Its Simplest And Most Ingenious Form!

One day, in the upscale “Hanse-Viertel-Galerie,” a Boutique Retail Passage in the center of historically candy-conscious Hamburg, Petersen observed an innovative idea that was as stunning in its simplicity as it was powerful with its enormous business and profit potential.

Born from a tiny drawer no larger than 6 square feet, and evolving from Petersen’s creative enhancements of the basic idea, this candylicious concept would eventually conquer the world, from the Americas to Europe to Asia to Australia and beyond.

The Sweet Candy Vision!

Around noon time on that fateful day, Petersen observed a young student pulling a large size drawer of approximately 36 inches wide and less than that in depth from an outside base below a boutique window.

Beside it stood a fixture with empty bags, a small scale and a cash register. Sporadically, the young, enterprising retailer rested his weary limbs on a tiny stool during his constant sales and service activities.

Inside the drawer were eighteen old-fashioned, well polished glass candy jars, neatly organized side by side. They contained a variety of the most popular candies: chewy gummy bears; colorful jelly beans; sweet taffies; Sour Patch Kids; tangy licorice; chocolaty M&Ms; bouncy gumballs; psychedelic jaw breakers; and still other mouth-watering, candy novelties and nostalgic sweets.

Take Common Candy And Make It Uncommon!

Petersen realized immediately that this was a powerful niche concept and an unusually profitable business opportunity.

The only thing the small-in-size, but huge-in-idea, bottom-drawer business opportunity was missing was a conceptual “Americanization” of it: greater product variety; “foot-stomping and theatrical presentation” of hundreds of bulk and novelty candies combined with “candy music”, “candy lighting”, “lingering candy scents”; and, last but by no means least, “candy self-service”.

HOW did Petersen eventually draw millions of happy customers to his “Candy Theatre” experience? More of this sweet and candylicious story and other news and opportunities are coming soon. Follow our posts via email or use the RSS button to keep up with the latest posts.

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