Is Chicago an attractive destination for candy and confectionery companies looking to set up operations in the U.S.?
Chicago used to be the candy capital of the world. Lots of companies have been acquired or gone out of business since then. Mars and Wrigley global are based here, the Ferrara Candy Company is here and is now part of Ferraro. Logistically, we’re right in the middle of the States. Sweets n Snacks is here every year.
What recommendations would you make to small and medium sized candy makers from overseas who want to come to the U.S.?
Companies should make sure that their brand name is easy to pronounce, and that the products are easy to pronounce. I recommend that they look at the specialty markets. You’ll need a good distribution partner, then you can make the rounds in terms of figuring out “who’s who” in the industry. This is a close knit industry segment, and it’s not hard to get to know the players. Mars and Hershey are fierce competitors, but there’s a bit more leeway to get into the market than in other industries. You have to be prepared to commit for a while, breaking in to the market doesn’t happen overnight.
What approach should companies pursue to establish themselves in the U.S.? Trade shows? Distributors? Restaurants?
The US market is very difficult and stratified, and getting retail space is difficult. If you have a product that is niche, in terms of premium or price-value relationship, that will help break in to the market. Distribution is key – you need to find a good partner. Your product has to be a good confection – a lot of smaller companies use automation.
Small companies often can’t afford mass marketing campaigns like those TV. Guerilla marketing or hosting events is the best opportunity for companies of this size. You need to create buzz.
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