[INTERVIEW] Selling to Gen Z as a premium confectionary brand

We recently sat down with Katy Bradbury, fellow Gen Zer and Customer Retention Manager at premium confectionery brand Candy Kittens. We discussed the ins and outs of selling confectionery to Gen Z, from the need for authenticity to community building and how to secure sales at premium prices.

Scroll down to read what she had to say.

How would you describe Gen Z as an audience? What are their key characteristics?

There’s a good article in Vogue about how they’ve broken the typical marketing funnel. They’re exposed to so much content, it’s hard to capture their attention. Things that resonate with them are authenticity, transparency and brands they can align their values with.

How do you target Gen Z as a confectionery brand?

The sweets industry is predominantly targeted at children, so we focus on an older audience. We aim to be authentic online; we want to be the cool brand that Gen-Zers/Millennials relate to. We aim to be really transparent about sustainability and what makes us better than other sweets.

What are the unique challenges that come from targeting a younger audience?

You need to be so much more than just your product; brand has never been so important. Gen Zers are exposed to so much content online, and whilst many strive to purchase what’s trending, I think there’s been a rise in those who are growing tired of the constant advertising. To cut through the noise you need to have clear values, and you need to know your brand. Be confident enough to not have to jump on all the different trends to stay relevant. You need to create a platform with purpose rather than adding to the ‘doom scrolling’.

What’s something that might surprise us about Gen Z in a marketing sense?

There’s a stereotype that we live on our phones and don’t want to engage in real life. However, there’s still a place for ‘real’ human interaction. I’m seeing a rise in brands hosting in-person events (e.g. run clubs, wellness events, launch parties etc.) I think these events which bring online communities together are important for brand building. We’ve done events in the past and we see positive engagement; this translates into exposure online, both UGC and PR, which helps to further drive the conversation and keep our brand front of mind.

There’s been lots of emphasis on the importance of community for Gen Zers. Is this a priority that Candy Kittens shares, and how do you achieve this?

Community building is central to my role, I work on our loyalty programme in which our customers can earn points from online purchases, and we reward loyalty with exclusive promotions and early access for launches etc. We also incorporate them into NPD, asking for feedback via Instagram stories or email surveys to guide new flavours and formats.

There’s lots of talk about Gen Z being less loyal to specific brands, do you notice this? How can brands obtain the loyalty of this demographic?

I don’t necessarily agree with that. I think you just have to work harder for their loyalty. They are receiving so much information, it takes work and commitment to cut through the noise. To earn loyalty there needs to be a personalised message and Gen Zers need to be spoken to as a person, rather than as one of the masses. You should incorporate them into the brand through tools like UGC, asking for feedback, or bringing them behind the scenes. We also take the time to show love to those who support us, for example sending sweets when people write in with feedback. If customers are left with a great experience they will want to tell their friends about it, helping to build loyalty by word-of-mouth.

Candy Kittens sits at a 300% premium compared to the market average. Do you think that Gen Zers are prepared to pay premiums for their favourite products? And how can brands encourage this?

They definitely will pay premiums, it just has to be worth the price. For instance, at Candy Kittens we use quality ingredients, without the nasties often used by the other big brands. We’re raising awareness of this via our marketing, educating consumers on the hidden meat in their sweets and encouraging them to try our Plant Powered sweets which taste even better. Aside from the product itself, brands also need to capture their emotions; this will make consumers more likely to choose you over a competitor, even if the price is higher.

Gabrielle Carruthers Gabrielle Carruthers