Limited Time = Big Sales: The Power of Seasonal & Food Holidays

By Heather Mayer

Styling and Photography by Laurie Mosco

It’s August. The sun’s blazing, we’re still rockin’ the flip flops and shorts, but wondering when our favorite fall flavor, pumpkin spice, is returning. We can’t help it — the allure of seasonal or limited time flavors, like pumpkin spice is strong! So much so that leading pumpkin spice purveyors, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts launched their iconic fall-flavored beverages in mid-August last year (August 24 and August 19 respectively to be exact)!  This love of seasonal flavors and shapes goes for the confectionery space too.  Candy sales for all holidays totaled $18.1 billion (that’s a combination of seasonal and everyday) and accounted for 62.6% sales (National Confectioners Association). Looks like limited time is a good lure.

Appeal to their love of seasonal with these must-have fall and winter flavors while learning ways to create that limited time feeling year-round.

Falling for Fall Flavors and Shapes

When talking seasonal flavors, you HAVE to start with the limited time legend – pumpkin spice.  Even with its longtime reign in the fall flavor sector, food trend research firm, Tastewise saw a 45% increase in interest of pumpkin spice products between 2019 and 2020 (Fast Company).  Coincidentally, Halloween is the second highest candy holiday saleswise, totaling $5 billion in 2021 (National Confectioners Association). That’s a lot of sales potential.

The iconic blend of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves brings on the warm feelings of nostalgia. Offer up a double dose of the warm and cozy feelings with pumpkin spice versions of nostalgic confectionery favorites.  They’ll be over the moon to see the iconic marshmallow graham cracker sandwiches, Moon Pie, doubled up and drenched in a pumpkin spice flavored coating with Pumpkin Spice Double Decker Moon Pie. Salt water taffy has been a longtime summer favorite. Bring this favorite into the cooler seasons and satisfy those pumpkin spice cravings with a piece of Taffy Town Pumpkin Pie Salt Water Taffy.

Second to pumpkin spice in the limited time flavor most-wanted list is peppermint bark. Chocolate barks are a fantastic cool weather treat, so when the classic bark form is paired with the popular pumpkin spice flavor like  Nassau Candy Pumpkin Spice Bark, well, you’re barking up the right tree.  You can also stir up the limited time, “gotta get it” excitement of pumpkin spice with make at home beverages like Melville Candy Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa Spoons

Candy Corn is another limited time flavor that has a-MAIZE-ing potential. Its sweet, vanilla flavor also lends itself to mash-ups with candy classics like Taffy Town Candy Corn Salt Water Taffy.  For a real twist, offer the popular licorice brand Red Vines in seasonal candy corn flavor. Sometimes limited time can be as simple as presenting a classic in a new way like candy corn with chocolate in a seasonal bark like Nassau Candy’s Candy Corn Bark. For those who like something a little more poppable, Nassau Candy’s Milk Chocolate Candy Corn Mix.

Caramel is a fall flavor they fall for all year-round, making it a great transitional flavor from summer to fall, and fall to winter.  Caramel apples are a fall favorite. If they’re hand poured  apple lollipops covered in caramel like Melville Candy Company’s Caramel Apple Dipped Lollipop , then they’re apple-solutely fabulous. Corn mazes are another popular fall activity, so caramel coated popcorn shaped like a corn cob like Caramel Cob will be the cream of the crop in their eyes. 

But don’t just look for flavors to bring that limited time feeling. Packaging, colors, and shapes can help too.  Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are an everyday favorite. Make them a festive pumpkin shape like  Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkin and customers go out of their gourd.  Hot cocoa is a customary cold weather hot beverage, but make it orange colored and feature witches on the packet like Witches Pot Orange Hot Chocolate Packet and it’s instantly spirited away.  

Tastes Like Winter Holiday Spirit

While pumpkin spice might be the first to come to mind when talking about seasonal flavor frenzies, Christmas flavors started it all.  Starbucks’ famed Pumpkin Spice Latte was created to play off the success of the company’s winter seasonal beverages, the Peppermint Mocha Latte and Eggnog Latte (Fast Company).  We can see why Starbucks started with Christmas. According to the National Confectioners Association,  year-end winter holidays bring in the most sales, totaling $5.6 Billion, 19.0% of all sales in 2021. So stocking winter seasonal flavor favorites is a must.

Take a play from Starbucks’ playbook and make sure that peppermint is part of your seasonal selection. You can go classic with the beloved peppermint confection peppermint bark, from Nassau Candy, or for those who think peppermint needs to stand alone, there’s Lindt Classic Recipe White Chocolate Peppermint Sticks. But even a classic like peppermint can stand for a refresh.  Winter holidays are all about cozy comfort, so adding peppermint to a fireside favorite like s’mores in Nassau Candy Peppermint S’mores will cause some excite-MINT. Another cool idea is adding peppermint to an iconic chocolate sandwich cookie like Nassau Candy White Chocolatey Coated Sandwich Cookie with Crushed Peppermint.  The sandwich cookies look oh so sweet packed up in acetate and ready for gifting.

Winter holidays are synonymous with cookies, so cookie-flavored anything will whip up excitement.  Like Taffy Town Sugar Cookie Salt Water Taffy. If they’re looking for something with a little crunch, there’s Kopper’s Sugar Cookie Bites.  Another beloved winter holiday cookie flavor is gingerbread.  Bake their day by offering their favorite licorice candy Red Vines in a Gingerbread flavor.  It’s also good to have actual cookies on hand too!  But make sure they have a limited-time seasonal spin like thin, crispy Tate’s Cookies in spicy Gingersnap and sweet and spicy Cinnamon Brown Sugar. Another popular Christmas cookie is Scottish Shortbread. Make them holiday shapes like trees, stars, Santa, and a bell and Walkers Festive Shapes Shortbread Cookies and they’re even more a-dough-able.

Seasonal shapes and colors are a big draw for winter holidays too. Frosted pretzels are an everyday favorite, but make them Christmas tree-shaped and frosted in red white and green like bulk Christmas Tree Frosted Pretzels and they’re something to “pine” for.  Jelly Belly Jelly Beans decked out in red, white and green like Jelly Belly Christmas Mix are something customers are going to rush to bring home for the holidays. Create that limited time gotta-get-it-now feeling through seasonal imagery like the Near Years Eve graphics found on the Clever Candy Champagne Flavored Gummy Bears Peg Bag.

Create Seasonal Excitement Year-Round with Food Holidays

The four major holidays account for more than half of confectionery sales each year. But just because it isn’t a major holiday doesn’t mean you can’t create those scarcity marketing, limited time feelings.  During dips between holidays, create excitement by offering product and merchandising surrounding national food holidays.  There’s a national food holiday practically every day (there are even months dedicated to a particular food item), so you could go crazy celebrating.  If your time and stock are limited, here are some of the food holidays that have a major social media following (and buzz in the food space) to begin with.

In that slow time post Valentine’s Day before Easter comes around there’s March 14 – Pi Day. This is a great day to showcase your pie flavor confections like Hammond’s Coconut Cream Bar and specialty sodas like Melba’s Fixins Blueberry Pie Soda and Lemon Meringue Pie Soda.

An a-glazing opportunity to create seasonal excitement leading up to the summer rush is National Donut Day in June (the date changes year to year but it’s always at the beginning of June).  You can get in on the excitement by sprinkling in donut flavored products like Nassau Candy Donut Hole Bites and Jelly Belly Krispy Kreme Peg Bags, featuring jelly beans inspired by the classic donut flavors throughout your business. Or create a focal point display near the front of your store with oversized donut shaped gummies like Raindrops Gummy Donut or even small ones like bulk Vidal Gummy Glazed Donuts.

National Coffee Day at the beginning of October is another BREW-tiful way to percolate some seasonal excitement. And it’s easy too because you most likely have chocolate covered coffee beans like Nassau Candy’s Dark Chocolate Espresso Coffee Beans in stock!  For those who like more specialty brews, there’s Koppers New York Espresso Bean Mix featuring an assortment of coffee inspired coatings like dark chocolate, milk chocolate, cappuccino, coffee and cream, and espresso.  And for a truly unique coffee offering, we present Gummy Coffee Beans with a creamy coffee flavor. 

Seasonal sells!  Add urgency to their purchasing decisions by offering a selection of limited time flavors and promoting food holiday celebrations.

Pumped up to add pumpkin spice and everything fall to your selection?

Sleigh it this winter holiday season with flavor favorites

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