Retailers intent on micromarketing can avail themselves of specific data from a number of sources, such as Information Resources Inc., Chicago, and ACNielsen, Schaumburg, Ill. Both market research firms use demographic indices to profile buyers of the category, a glimpse into who likes what best.
IRI and ACNielsen shared some information with SN about ethnic trends, IRI's in three categories of candy purchases: non-chocolate candy, chocolate candy and seasonal/assorted candy. Among races listed as white, black, Hispanic and "other," from its Shoppers Hotline, Consumer Knowledge Suite, for 2001 Midyear, IRI founds that no whites or "others" were over-indexing, which is shown by a measure of 120.
ACNielsen's data pertains to Los Angeles, from its Homescan Hispanic Consumer Facts, and shows greater household penetration as these consumers become more acculturated.
IRI found that among black consumers, non-chocolate chewy candy bars of less than 3.5 ounces were popular, with a 136 index, as were non-chocolate chewy snack size candies (124) and plain mints (128). Numbers below 80 indicate a low propensity to purchase the category. The lowest number shown in a realm of 20 subcategories was a 57, given by blacks to gift box chocolates.
Hispanics favored non-chocolate chewy candy bars, 140; specialty nut and coconut candy, 143; and novelty candy, 129. Greater detail was provided on one subcategory, the chocolate candy bar of less than 3.5 ounces. It listed 69 brands, from the Annabelle Rocky Road (favored by Hispanic consumers, with a whopping 668 index) to the York Peppermint Patty (whites at the highest, with 105). Again, whites didn't over-index on any of the brands listed, but black and Hispanic consumers did, according to the survey. Blacks gave indices of 120 or more to 21 of the 69 brands; Hispanics, to 30.
Michael Ortiz, candy buyer for Unified Western Grocers, the Los Angeles-based wholesaler, said that much of what people interpret as ethnic trends depends upon the availability of products and the way the retailer merchandises them. Gift-boxed chocolate, for example, which indexes low among all groups, but especially blacks, according to IRI, is quite likely not readily available in stores where they shop, Ortiz said. Some of these trends could be due to distribution, not ethnic preference.
Also, he said one must consider household size when looking at IRI data showing certain brands indexing higher among black and Hispanic consumers, who could be buying for a household of children, or their extended families, or children they babysit during the day.
According to IRI, blacks liked Baby Ruth bars (186), Clark bars (120), David bars (153) and, best of all, Goldenberg's, with a 364 index. They also liked Hershey's Krackel (338), Mr. Goodbar (215), Hershey's Whatchamacallit (182), the Mars bar (169), Milk Duds (164), Milky Way (132), Milky Way Lite (120), Nestle (196), Nestle Buncha Crunch (189), Nestle Chunky (138), Nestle Crunch (123), Nestle Raisinets (159), Peter Paul Almond Joy (146), Peter Paul Mounds (120), Sixlets (121), Snickers (154) and the Whopper (133). Besides the Annabelle Rocky Road, Hispanics liked Boyer Mallo Cups, which got the next highest number, 552. They liked the David and Sixlets, too, giving both 245, and had several other products in the 200s, such as the Mars bar (221), Nestle White Crunch (231) and Nestle Treasures (217). The Rolo bar got a 171 from Hispanics, but only 99, 85 and 90 from the other groups.
Other brands popular among Hispanics were Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, Cadbury Caramello, Charleston Chew, Ghirardelli, Godiva, Hershey's Cookies and Cream, Mr. Goodbar, M&M's, Mars bar, Milky Way Lite, Nestle, Nestle 100 Grand and many more.
Another problem that Ortiz mentioned is that many in the ethnic community are on restricted diets. He blamed a lack of focus for the decline in alternative or better-for-you products, such as sunflower seeds. Store owners or managers are looking for the highest return, and so they restrict the choices on their shelves, he told SN.
Private-label chocolate bars did poorly among all groups, indexing the highest for whites, at 112; at 29 for blacks, 35 for Hispanics and 15 for others, according to IRI.
The ACNielsen survey covered various forms of candy, including dietetic, chocolate and non-chocolate, and four kinds of gum. For each category, it compares household penetration among all of Los Angeles, non-Hispanic consumers, Hispanic consumers, those who prefer to speak Spanish only, those who are bilingual and those who prefer English only, and finds that penetration rises along with facility in English.