Brand purpose around sustainability and eco-friendly processes are top of mind for confectionery brands as consumers navigate a new set of expectations for a post-Covid-19, more environmentally-aware age.
Sustainable consumer mindset
A 2020 global survey by management consultants Accenture reports that consumers ‘have dramatically evolved’, and that 60% were reporting making more environmentally friendly, sustainable, or ethical purchases since the start of the pandemic. And nine out of 10 of this cohort said they were likely to continue doing so.
Meanwhile, a study by research group Kantar said that since Covid-19, sustainability was more of a concern for consumers than before the outbreak. Kantar reports, globally, the most environmentally conscious consumers are worth $382bn to the FMCG sector and are becoming more valuable by the tune of $78bn per year, meaning sustainable innovation and direct-to-consumer (DTC) communication about brands’ ‘green credentials’ are beneficial for both business and the planet.
For confectionery brands operating in travel retail channels, more transparent sustainability credentials are being driven by consumers looking for brands with purpose, according to recent research by specialist market research firm, m1nd-set.
Consumers favour confectionery brands that clearly communicate their sustainability goals. 84% of duty free shoppers (91% of millennials) shopping this category, think that a greater focus on sustainability by manufacturers has a positive impact on their perception of the brand.
The same survey also highlights that 72% of duty free shoppers (78% millennials) think a greater focus on sustainability increases the likelihood of purchasing a brand.
‘From a category perspective, 56% of those surveyed say they will actively look for more sustainable/environmentally friendly products when shopping for confectionery at the airport, higher than the overall average of 43%. Importantly, 64% of consumers also say they would be prepared to pay more for a product if it is environmentally friendly,’ says m1nd-set.
Nestlé International Travel Retail General Manager Stewart Dryburgh says confectionery brands are now required to have a ‘consumer first’ view for sustainability progress. “The consumer is channel agnostic, they don’t care where they buy,” he tells DFNI. “We saw a five-year leap in ecommerce participation in the US last year; what we don’t want is a five-year negative step change for our industry. It’s about seizing a huge opportunity which comes when that consumer is with us in our environments. Our proximity to the customer is what we need to leverage.
“One of the plus points for confectionery is that it is price-accessible and a way to get people back into the habit of shopping. There is also an opportunity to widen the food category. Key themes going forward are going to be Sense of Place and sustainability. Consumers today and tomorrow want to know, are you taking care of the planet? So there are opportunities,” he explains.
Those opportunities for development are going well for the major confectionery groups says Joe Bates, Confectionery Editor for DFNI, writing in the November issue. “I’m impressed with the progress made by leading confectionery players, several of which are working hard to ensure 100% of their packaging will be recyclable by 2025.
“Arguably, the need for the confectionery business to reduce the environmental impact of its packaging is greater than for other product sectors: Product lifecycles are short, the level of NPD is high, plus sub-sectors like children’s and seasonal lines, or premium gifting, often require extraneous packaging.
“Another obstacle to more sustainable is the increased cost. Research might indicate that consumers are willing to pay more but is there a disconnect between intention and final purchasing behaviour? And, will operators pay more?” he asks.
Nestlé is one of those players moving famous brand names into progressively more recyclable packaging, and it has just launched a new initiative for Smarties. The chocolate brand’s new paper packaging is made from sustainably sourced coated paper, paper labels or carton board and will be rolled out in 2021.
“We are now transitioning the entire Smarties confectionery range to recyclable paper packaging for 2021,” says Nestlé’s Dryburgh. “This includes replacing the plastic lid of the Smarties Giant Tube with a cardboard closing and replacing the cylindrical tube shape with a hexatube. We will replace the plastic shrink wrap on Smarties Toppers with a paper sticker, while the Smarties plastic bags and pouches are also being completely overhauled to sturdy paper packaging with protective qualities. Next year also sees us bringing in recyclable packaging for all Nestlé Mixes and Quality Street pouches and sharing bags offered within travel retail.”
Nestlé Global Head of Confectionery Alexander von Maillot said the decision was one of the company’s key sustainable packaging initiatives in its confectionery category. “It is a further step in realising Nestlé’s ambition to make all of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025 and to reduce its use of virgin plastics by one third in the same period,” Von Maillot commented. The Smarties packaging update will remove around 250 million plastic packets from circulation every year.
Mondelēz International, says it takes its sustainability strategy very seriously and travellers will see a number of packaging innovations – across its portfolio of chocolate brands including Cadbury’s, Milka, Toblerone and Oreo – in the short- and long-term that reflect the company’s commitment to making 100% of its packaging recyclable by 2025.
Chairman & CEO Dirk Van de Put comments: “Successful companies do more than focus on financial results; they create value for the world at large and improve the lives of those they impact.
The company’s sustainability pledge is on three main initiatives: sustainable ingredients, packaging innovation and environmental impact (see infographic).
“We are guided by our purpose to empower people to snack right by providing the right snack, for the right moment, made the right way. As the world deals with a global pandemic, that purpose feels more important today than ever,” says Van de Put.
The chocolate confectioner plans to put more emphasis on the communication of its sustainability achievements through product packaging redesigns. This is in order to make the sustainability credentials that many duty free shoppers are proactively looking for while shopping, more explicit, it says.
While most (93%) of Mondelēz’s packaging is designed to be recyclable, (Toblerone has already achieved the 100% recyclability target), 99% of the company’s travel-retail chocolate product portfolio uses cocoa that is sourced sustainably through the Cocoa Life programme. The company’s aim is to make sure these benefits become more familiar to travellers to improve their value perception.
Mondelēz’s Covid-19 recovery plans have three key pillars: focusing on a core portfolio of best-selling products that will help to leverage supply chain efficiencies and improve product rotation; enhance the visibility of the confectionery category in order to increase footfall to all categories utilising merchandising best practices to help passengers navigate the offer on shelf quickly and effectively; promotional activity where bold offers are supported by loud communications.
‘In response to the new reality for many travellers, we must offer products which are more suited to consumers’ demand for higher-value perception, Carlos Granados Moyano, Head of Global Sales at Mondelēz World Travel Retail tells TR Business.
Cadbury bags and pouches for example, will have a new price-pack architecture following a thorough and comprehensive assessment of the brand’s offer to the consumer.
Ricola’s VP Sales Middle East & Travel Retail Andreas Reckart says the company is constantly evaluating opportunities for removing unnecessary packaging material from its products or for using packaging material that is easier to recycle. “A recent project that we did in this respect was to remove an aluminium foil from our range of sugar free 75g tins, which we had placed as a first opening guarantee. Instead, we have now added an outside seal on the tins which serves the same purpose without any impact on product quality,” Reckart tells DFNI.
Mondelēz launched a bold advertising campaign for its new exclusive Toblerone flavour, Gingery Orange that carries the strapline, ‘Taste the Twist’. Mondelez Travel Retail spotlighted how it plans to “leverage the world’s No. 1 brand” at the recent Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo. Mondelēz describes its latest Toblerone launch as a combination of milk chocolate with ginger-coated orange peel, that “fits the brand and follows consumer needs”.
Mars Wrigley International Travel Retail’s position on its pledge for sustainability is ‘there is no such thing as a sustainable product in unsustainable packaging’. “We’re proud of our products, but deeply concerned about the impact of packaging waste on land and in the ocean. Too much of it ends up in the environment. This is unacceptable and we are committed to addressing this,” the company tells TR Business.
Mars Wrigley is a partner with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation New Plastic Economy initiative and a signatory of their Global Commitment to eliminate plastic waste and pollution at its source. “Our vision is aligned with theirs, to support a circular economy where packaging never becomes waste. To advance towards this vision, by 2025 we plan to reduce our virgin plastic use by 25% and for 100% of our plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable,” says the company.
Mars Wrigley is focused on more sustainable activity through its ‘Sustainable in a Generation Plan’ which is built on three key growth areas: healthy planet, thriving people and nourishing wellbeing.
Taking the pillar of ‘thriving people’ as a case in point, Mars Wrigley International Travel Retail (MWITR) would like to replicate its successful M&Ms airport advertising campaign from 2019, that focused on the traveller journey mindset, with an updated execution in 2021. Global Category Director Raghav Rekhi says the 2019 campaign was born from the company’s desire to use media in a way to drive top-of-mind awareness in the category [in airport retail] that really gets people to turn their heads and say, ‘wow, that looks like fun.’”
“There are a number of pain points for travellers in the airport and often shopping is not a priority. People say they are anxious or bored, so any branding activity should have a role to play. We think the underlying message is that dwell time should be interactive and engaging,” he says.
His comments were following the brand’s global airport advertising campaign in collaboration with JCDecaux that achieved incredible reach of 25 million travellers and contributed to a 33% increase in sales, according to the company. Following this successful interactive media campaign, the company is releasing a new version, starring M&M’s characters Red and Yellow, to global travel retail in 2021.
According to Rekhi, his ongoing strategy for the travel retail channel is to make the traveller journey fun, which he believes, is more relevant than ever in the current climate. MITR’s plans for media spend in 2021 will leverage some of the company’s most significant learnings over the last 18 months to create more fun and engaging airport activations over the next year.
Rekhi rounds out his interview with The Moodie Davitt Report with a message of positivity and hope for the travel retail industry: “By putting the traveller at the heart of the brands, we will create better moments for travellers, which will lead to a sustained recovery. A recovery which we are hopeful will start in 2021, and hope to sustain for years to come, bringing back growth to the confectionery segment in the channel.”
Confectionery brands need to convey their pledges to sustainability practice more than ever in a post-pandemic world. While eco-friendly packaging promises prevail, the consumer needs to see more specialist campaign messaging across advertising, social media and pack designs. If confectionery brands can introduce more transparent and interactive communication through QR codes or digital omnichannel solutions, then consumers will be more invested in their brand choices based on active sustainability credentials. The bolder the better. Meanwhile confectionery can play a key Covid-19 recovery role in the travel retail channel – by introducing geo-location coupons or voucher-based mobile messaging, footfall could be increased into stores.