Although not ordinarily associated with speed, the rapidity at which DeMet’s candies and snacks – including its signature chocolate-covered “Turtles” – disappear off retailers’ shelves would cause any hare to pause before relaxing, even if he were used to racing the proverbial tortoise.
The popularity of DeMet’s Candy Co.’s Turtles, Flipz candy-coated pretzels, Treasures filled chocolates and TrueNorth nut snacks enable the company to grow rapidly. Vice Chairman Peter Wilson attributes DeMet’s success to the flexible approach it can take with retailers through its brokers and distributors. “Together with retailers we try to collaborate to become successful instead of simply telling them what they should do with their shelf space,” Wilson says.
“We work pretty closely with the retailers to understand their objectives,” emphasizes Jim Gerbo, executive vice president of marketing. “We can design some different sizes to meet different price points. We try to work with the retailers and be as responsive as we can. When they ask us to look into something, we turn it around very quickly, much more quickly than our larger competitors could do. We have top levels of our organization talking directly with the customer. ”
DeMet’s relies on sales data from market research firms, and its retail customers use point-of-sale data to indicate the success of the company’s products. “Many times, that data is really telling the story,” Gerbo declares. DeMet’s strives to make its products unique and innovative so customers in one retail channel can offer something different from the rest.
“We drop a coupon online that will encourage the consumers in those areas to go to that retailer,” Gerbo says. “So they may be picking up savings we offer through the coupon in addition to what the retailers may be offering in a temporary price reduction or maybe an ad program. There are ways for us to partner with the retailers or do promotions that work on their loyalty card, which is an area that a lot of retailers are looking for.”
Recently, DeMet’s participated in a joint promotion that involved sales of DVDs such as “The Bourne Legacy” in grocery stores. Along with the DVD purchase, customers received a DeMet’s product and other items, such as energy drinks or soda. “So consumers are buying the DVD in the grocery store rather than from Netflix,” Gerbo says.
Because of the variety of candy, snacks and sizes offered by DeMet’s, its products can be found in grocery stores’ candy, snack or seasonal aisles and in smaller packages for impulse purchase at checkouts. “Anywhere you might be that you’d like a candy or a snack or a sweet snack of some sort, that’s where we’d like to be,” Wilson says. The company’s products are distributed nationally in grocery and drug chains as well as through mass marketers, warehouse clubs and non-food outlets.
Although video stores where candy and snacks are sold are disappearing, other non-food retailers are trying to cash in on the snacking mentality of their customers, such as home centers and craft and electronics stores. “So if you’re talking about some of these non-food outlets – where we’re starting to see candy and snack sets to appeal to folks who want the impulse purchase at any point during the day – we do very well there, when a retailer has our impulse items available,” Wilson says.
DeMet’s packages its products to cater to different purchase decisions. Its Turtles are not only available in large boxes and bags, and individually wrapped in some bags for take-along, but also in hearts for Valentine’s Day and in packs of three or four to cater to impulse purchases. Flipz candy-coated pretzels are sold in small bags for impulse purchases, lunchboxes or gym bags, as are TrueNorth nut snacks.
DeMet’s has two manufacturing facilities, a 100,000-square-foot plant completed in 2009 in Big Flats, N.Y. – where three lines manufacture Turtles – and a second, older plant measuring 35,000 square feet in Mohnton, Pa., where Flipz are manufactured and packaged. TrueNorth nut snacks are made on equipment DeMet’s owns at another company’s factory with the help of that company’s personnel.
DeMet’s garnered much favorable attention when it opened its new plant domestically while other candy companies were moving to Mexico, Canada or otherwise going offshore. “A core part of our business success has been having our own manufacturing facilities, where we can adjust the schedule according to the needs of the business, and be very nimble. At the same time, our scale makes us very efficient, too,” Wilson says.
DeMet’s expects its future products will both follow and create trends. In the works in the company’s R&D department are products combining chocolate with spicy pepper flavors. Other developments: Mint chocolate will become a year-round Flipz flavor, sea-salted caramel is being introduced in some of the company’s products and dried cranberries and pomegranate super fruits will be added to TrueNorth nut clusters.
Size also matters: Some consumers will gladly shell out for king-size packages and stand-up boxes of Turtles. Turtles minis – less than half the weight of a normal Turtles cluster – and super-mini Flipz are on their way. Bite-sized, peanut-free portions of DeMet’s products will be treats for Halloween, and special flavors are being developed that will be available only during specific seasons, such as Christmas or Easter.
“Retailers are not always accustomed to collaborating with their suppliers,” Wilson concludes. “We really value their opinions, goals and thoughts on the ways we bring ourselves to market. Pallet displays, the four-piece Turtles bonus bar, ready-to-display cases and PDQs are all examples of successful collaborations with our retail customers.”