“When our travelling consumers return, we need to meet them with the right offering,” says  Mondelez WTR Category Marketing Manager Irina Tarabanko

As confectionery brands in travel retail look for fresh opportunities to differentiate themselves, we frequently see new and interesting flavours taking to the shelves as channel exclusives or limited editions, writes Mondelez World Travel Retail (WTR) Category Marketing Manager Irina Tarabanko.

While studies have shown that confectionery shoppers increasingly crave novel and unique flavours[1][2], does more choice really equal more value? Or are brands cannibalising their own portfolios with too much variety?

There’s a curiosity embedded in human nature that attracts us to the unconventional. In fact, it’s one of the reasons people travel; to expose themselves to unfamiliar cultures, taste exotic cuisines and experience unique destinations.

There is delight and enrichment in discovery, and the sense of wonder and excitement so intrinsic to the joy of travel makes our channel the ideal environment for travelling consumers to try new and unconventional flavours.

However, as much excitement as a unique flavour can bring to a well-established brand, there are risks. A new flavour is ultimately a novelty, and novelty inevitably wears off; how do you keep the offering fresh and relevant?

On the other hand, if confectionery brands launch new flavours too frequently, they risk undermining their own brand identity. Regular launches may mean more variety, but also less shelf space for the core portfolio; the evergreen products that won confectionery shoppers to your brand in the first place. So, when it comes to new flavours, how can brands best position these products to drive incremental revenue and growth? What is the recipe for success?

Mondelez WTR Category Marketing Manager Irina Tarabanko analyses the importance of adding newness into the confectionery category especially when travellers return after the COVID-19 crisis

To thine own brand be true

The most successful new flavours are those that play to the strengths of a brand’s USP. Whether it’s tapping into a brand’s distinct origins, its values or even an innovative enhancement of the existing flavour profile, a new flavour that addresses your audience with your unique voice is more likely to win over current fans and boost brand loyalty.

For example, last year, Mondelez WTR launched a new flavour from Milka – ‘Strawberry Cheesecake’ – which combines layers of cheesecake, biscuit and strawberry with the tender 100% Alpine milk chocolate that distinguishes the brand in the channel. The combination delivers a unique, multi-textured product experience that is still true to Milka’s Alpine origins and speaks directly to fans.

Milka’s Strawberry Cheesecake flavour was an excellent case study for tapping into the brand’s USP while offering a new flavour profile

Dare to be different 

While the flavour should not be off kilter from a brand point of view, gone are the days when simple flavour deviations would capture the attention of confectionery shoppers. Brands need to think boldly and out of the box, using multiple flavours or combinations, different textures, and even colours. This is particularly important when we consider appealing to our Next-Gen travellers, as generationally, Millennials are the most adventurous in their attitudes to flavour, while 45% of Gen Z’s agree that “the crazier the flavour, the better”[3].

The latest travel retail exclusive flavour innovation from Toblerone – Gingery Orange – offers a delicious twist for travellers, combining signature Toblerone milk chocolate with honey and almond nougat with natural orange peels dusted in ginger.

The flavour delivers an unexpected sweet-and-spicy taste experience as well as an unconventional texture combination, with crunchy almond nougat meeting soft oranges. Gingery Orange is available in the sharable Tiny bag format in mono or mixed flavour, as well as in the 360g bar. In Brazil, less than two months into the launch of the mixed flavour Tiny bag, the product was sold out, triggering substantial reorders and underlining the strong potential of Gingery Orange as an incremental growth driver.

The Toblerone ‘Gingery Orange’ flavour became an incremental growth driver for the company following its launch in Brazil

Rising to the occasion

Travelling confectionery shoppers have distinct purchasing drivers; broadly speaking, these are gifting, sharing and personal use (snacking or souvenir purchases). When we limit new flavours to a specific occasion, we could be limiting the opportunity for incremental revenue. Launching in multiple formats rather than focusing on multiple flavours unlocks access to a wider audience and arguably offers a more sustainable approach to incrementality.

Following the launch of Toblerone Crunchy Almonds in the 360g bar format in 2013, it quickly became one of the brand’s best-selling flavours in travel retail, and a powerful driver for incremental growth. In 2018, we extended the flavour to our highly shareable Toblerone Tiny bag format. Last year, we took Milka’s best-selling flavours and made them available in a brand new format for sharing with our Milka Moments pouches. Both format extensions have enjoyed exceptional results and delivered invaluable growth for their respective brands.

Mondelez WTR relaunched Milka’s best-selling flavours in sharing ‘Milka Moments’ pouch formats

Exclusive appeal

Travel retail exclusive products are the foundation to the differentiation of the channel, and a new flavour has that much more appeal when confectionery shoppers realise that they will not be able to find it anywhere else.

When we launched the Toblerone Tiny Crunchy Almonds Mix bag exclusively with Dufry for a year, the mix quickly established itself as one of the strongest products in Dufry’s Toblerone portfolio, delivering double-digit sales growth for the brand versus the previous year and more than doubling sales of the Toblerone Tiny range over this period. The mix accounted for almost a quarter of the Tiny range’s growth, cementing itself as a key pillar for the brand.

The full package

At Mondelez WTR, when we approach flavour innovation, as when we approach any of our activities in the channel, we do it with our Delighting Travelers category vision in mind, with the goal of driving More Shoppers, More Spend, More Often to grow the overall confectionery category. By taking a holistic approach to new flavours and collaborating with our retail partners on fun and highly engaging launch platforms with interactive digital elements, we’re able to offer an exclusive product, but also an experience that shoppers talk about and want to engage in again and again. For Toblerone Gingery Orange, we have a bold activation platform in the pipeline that will bring fresh excitement and distinction to the channel.

“As the global COVID-19 crisis escalates and its impact on our channel intensifies, more than ever, we need to think about the future of travel retail. When our travelling consumers return, we need to be there to meet them with the right offering; we need to once again leverage the excitement of discovery and enrich the travel experience.” — Mondelez World Travel Retail (WTR) Category Marketing Manager Irina Tarabanko

Why it matters

As the global COVID-19 crisis escalates and its impact on our channel intensifies, more than ever, we need to think about the future of travel retail. When our travelling consumers return, we need to be there to meet them with the right offering; we need to once again leverage the excitement of discovery and enrich the travel experience.

Understandably, morale across the industry is low, but we are in this business to delight travellers. Travel retail is a special place, and the onus is on us to keep that sense of wonder alive through an unwavering commitment to innovation and resilience in the face of challenges. When global travel resumes, let us once again be an intrinsic part of the joy of travel.

[1] Opportunities in the Asia-Pacific Confectionery Sector: Analysis of Opportunities Offered by High-Growth Economies, GlobalData, 2019

[2] Top 10 Trends for 2020, Innova Market Insights, 2020

[3] Top 10 Trends for 2020, Innova Market Insights, 2020