Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tip #135: Celebrate National S’mores Day

As you likely know, s’mores as a flavor and product has become quite the consumer craze. This week’s blog tip is to capitalize on the craze and celebrate National S’mores Day which is Sunday, August 10. Here are a few fun s’mores ideas we found on Pinterest to help get your creative juices flowing. Remember, if you make your own marshmallow, s’mores are a great way to showcase it!

S'mores to Go
S'mores Pops
S'mores Popcorn
S'mores Ice Cream Sandwich

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tip #134: Write a Marketing Plan

While we’re all enjoying the fun of summer, the holidays will be upon us before we know it! This means that you should be making a plan now for how you’re going to spread the word that your candy store is THE place to get chocolate and gifts for the holidays. Therefore, this week’s tip is to write a marketing plan.

Typical marketing plans include an analysis of the market and details of the marketing methods. Section headings often include:
  • Executive Summary
  • Situation Analysis (includes marketing, industry and competitor analysis)
  • Target Market
  • Marketing Methods with Completion Dates
  • Results Evaluation
The great news is that you have time to complete your plan for the 2014 holiday season. View a few samples here and then set aside a few days to focus on preparing your plan. When you complete the plan, it will still be summer so you can keep enjoying the sun and fun knowing you are ready for the holidays!

This week’s tip was part of an article in a past issue of Kettle Talk, RCI’s quarterly newsletter magazine for members. Join RCI to begin receiving Kettle Talk in your mailbox!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tip #133: Extend Truffle Shelf Life

Truffles are a consistent customer favorite but their delicious centers also have a high water activity which means the shelf life is limited. This week’s blog tip is to consider ideas to decrease water activity and therefore extend the shelf life of your truffles.

One idea is to use invertase, an enzyme derived from yeast, as an ingredient to bring down water activity in your truffle centers. Additionally, syrups such as honey will work similarly. Or you may also use potassium sorbate. Talk to your ingredients suppliers to determine the right amount to use for your specific truffle recipes.

Do note that if you claim that your products are all natural, you should pay close attention to how you choose to extend shelf life of your products. See this story on a bagel company who received a warning from the FDA for labeling their bagel as all natural because their blueberries contained potassium sorbate.

P.S. You’re invited to join RCI at our Fall Regional Conference next month! We’ll be connecting in Las Vegas August 25-27 and you can register online now at retailconfectioners.org/fall. Register by July 25 to save $100 on full registration!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tip #132: Be in the Know on Sustainability

Sustainability and fair labor are big topics in the world of cacao bean farming. Big enough that many of your customers have likely even begun asking you questions about where your chocolate comes from. This week’s tip is to educate yourself and get in the know when it comes to your chocolate suppliers and what they are doing for the sustainability of cocoa as well as fair labor practices on cacao farms.

From the largest cocoa and chocolate producers to the bean-to-bar producers, nearly everyone involved in the supply chain of cocoa and chocolates has recently recognized the importance of working directly with the farmers of the beloved cacao bean. By educating and providing training for these farmers, the life of the cacao bean and the quality of life for the farmers is being improved.

Here are some helpful links to get you started:

  • CocoaAction – A strategy for cocoa sustainability with a focus on Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, which together provide about 55% of the world’s current cocoa supply.
  • World Cocoa Foundation – Dedicated to helping achieve cocoa sustainability, supporting cocoa communities, education, field programs and scientific research.

By educating yourself and your staff, you will be able to educate your customers. As chocolate suppliers continue to put efforts into supporting the cacao farms across the globe, your customers have the opportunity to be a part of the change. Let them know that by buying your chocolates, they are helping to support cacao farmers and their families.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tip #131: Celebrate the World Cup Experience

Did you know we are in the middle of the 2014 World Cup? In celebration of the World Cup being hosted in Brazil this year, this week’s blog tip is to add some Brazilian flair to your products or store. While the World Cup is not quite as big in the U.S. as it is in other parts of the world, customers all over will appreciate the opportunity to join in the fun and festivities.

  • Colored Ribbon – A cost effective way to add flair is through wrapping products with yellow and green colored ribbons.
  • Sprinkles or Nonpareils – Many candy makers make chocolate covered Oreos® with embellishments or sprinkles. Use yellow and green sprinkles on your chocolate covered items and you have instant Brazilian-themed products.
  • Flavors – Fruits such as passionfruit and guava are popular in Brazil and can be fun flavors to incorporate with your chocolates and candies, too!

The tips here are specific to celebrating Brazil but if you are a die-hard fan of a specific soccer team, just adapt these tips to fit the colors and flavors of your favorite team.