NEW YORK — There is something sweet going on at Bonne Bell, too.
As several emerging cosmetics companies have been snapping up candy licenses and launching a myriad of scented and flavored items for the fickle youth market, Bonne Bell has been taking a paced approach to product development.
Now the grandmother of the teen companies is ready to reveal its own candy plans. Chief executive officer, Jess “Buddy” Bell said the company is working with Masterfoods, formerly called M&M Mars, on developing cobranded products with its Starbust and Skittles brands.
The candy-like cosmetics will be introduced under Bonne Bell’s Smackers label, a forerunner in the flavored and scented lip products category. Bell noted that Smackers introduced the “original flavored lip gloss in the early Seventies.” He said new items resulting from the agreement will primarily be in the lip segment — lip balm sticks and pots and glosses in squeeze tubes and in tubes with sponge applicators. The first products resulting from the union will hit stores in January.
Separately, Bonne Bell is currently rolling out five new soda-flavored lip items, adding to its existing relationship with Dr. Pepper. The newcomers are: 7-Up, Cherry 7-Up, Orange Crush, Grape Crush and A&W Root Beer.
“We are not going to do a lot of licensing,” said Bell. For now, Bonne Bell is working with one candy company and one beverage company, Dr. Pepper/7-Up. “We want to partner with one company and build a big business.”
Commenting on the Masterfoods relationship, Bell said, “It is a good marriage of brands. Masterfoods thinks about their brands the same way we do. We think it will bring in new users and bring in incremental business from current users.”
With the new candy and soda items, Bell expects to achieve retail placement in several store locations — cosmetics, checkout, candy and beverage sections.
Other youth players involved with candy and cake brands include Lotta Luv with Hershey’s, Tootsie Roll, Jelly Belly, Nestle, Cinnabon, Hostess Twinkies, Dairy Queen and others; Added Extras with Mike & Ike, Popsickle and Bazooka brands, and Dream Cosmetics with Kellogg’s Fruit Loops and Apple Jacks brands.Bell believes some of the brands that have been licensed are not relevant to today’s young audience. He said the candies that are still consumed on a daily basis, “are the ones that are really strong.”
Bell said there will be promotional displays and a print advertising campaign to support the candy introductions next year.
The teen category has been suffering during the past year with sales evaporating for nearly all youth brands — for some at double digit rates. Even Bonne Bell, which had been enjoying steady growth for several years, felt the pinch. In 2002, its sales stopped rising and held steady at around $82.5 million, excluding Wal-Mart, according to Information Resources Inc.
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