CHICAGO — Ferrero is expanding the Kinder brand in the United States with the launch of Kinder Bueno. Slated for a stateside debut in November, the product features crispy wafer, creamy hazelnut filling and milk chocolate.

The 50-year-old Kinder brand offers a range of chocolate products in 170 countries. Kinder Bueno has seen success around the world since it was introduced in the 1990s.

Kinder Joy, introduced nationwide in November 2017, topped the 2018 New Product Pacesetters list compiled by Information Resources, Inc. with $124.4 million in first-year sales. The product includes a small toy and a layered confection of milk and chocolate cremes and two crispy wafer bites filled with cocoa creme.

The launch of Kinder Joy exceeded internal expectations, said Nicole Colwell, brand manager, innovation at Ferrero, which has U.S. headquarters in Parsippany, N.J.

“With Kinder Bueno, we’re trying to do an even better job than what we did with the Kinder Joy launch, which was obviously successful, so we have a high bar to raise, but we have high expectations and are looking to repeat the same success with distribution in the market,” Ms. Colwell told Food Business News. “We have high hopes of continuing in the future to be one of the biggest brands in the U.S. and another recognizable U.S. household name, like a Hershey.”

Ferrero USA also produces Nutella, Tic Tac and Ferrero Rocher. Parent company Ferrero Group, based in Luxembourg, is the third-largest global confectionery company with sales of $12 billion and distribution across more than 170 countries.

“Kinder Joy was very incremental to the category; a lot of the data we’ve gotten directly from our customers has shown close to 50% incrementality, and it drove almost the entire growth for the non-premium chocolate category,” Ms. Colwell said. “Kinder Bueno, since it’s more of a premium offering, we’re also hoping will bring dollars back to the category and trade people up.”

Ferrero Golden Gallery

Thinking outside the box

Kinder Bueno was among several innovations Ferrero USA unveiled at the Sweets & Snacks Expo, held May 21-23 in Chicago. The company is entering the boxed chocolate category with the launch of Ferrero Golden Gallery Signature, featuring a premium assortment of white, dark and milk chocolates.

“There are a couple of dominant players in assorted boxes, and they’re American brands that have been around a long time, and we see an opportunity to bring some news to this segment and also to take care of the needs of the underserved younger consumer set,” said Shalini Stansberry, marketing director, Ferrero premium chocolate. “When we take a look at the profile of who is buying assorted boxes today, they tend to be 55-plus. Especially with younger consumers, either they are going to other channels outside of ours to buy chocolate, or they’re gifting other things like Prosecco, etc. So I think they’re looking for a new and unique experience for assorted boxes, and that is what we’re striving to deliver.”

The product was inspired by the restaurant industry trend of wine and beer flights, Ms. Stansberry said.

“People are looking for a variety of flavors and textures or experiences within a category,” she said. “This is really designed to give you that experience of a flight of chocolate. It’s about helping people connect with others.”

The chocolates are enhanced with such ingredients as crispy cocoa shavings, rice crisps, hazelnut bites and salted caramel.

“A major insight we uncovered on assorted chocolates is oftentimes one to two of the flavors might be good, and the rest, maybe you’re not so sure,” she said. “Consumers tell us they check the flavor to see if they’re going to like it, and sometimes they just leave it behind. That’s something we wanted to solve for. We tested so many different flavors…

These flavors are so well balanced that no matter what you gravitate toward, you’re going to enjoy all of the flavors in here. That’s a real point of differentiation.”

Tic Tac X-Freeze

Going to extremes

Another new product debuting from Ferrero USA is Tic Tac X-Freeze, a sugar-free mint that is 50% larger than the original Tic Tac mint and contains cooling crystals. The product will launch in September.

“Historically, Tic Tac has been playing in the mild mint segment, and we have a leading share of the category, but we never really stepped into the stronger mints,” said Felipe Riera Michelotti, vice-president, marketing for Tic Tac North America at Ferrero USA. “That’s a market that exists … but there was not a Tic Tac offering for those consumers.”

Available in strong mint and wintergreen varieties, Tic Tac X-Freeze received an innovation award in the gum and mint category at the Sweets & Snacks Expo.

“It took us between 18 to 24 months to get to the final product … We did consumer validation to understand if the product was with the right flavor, if it had the right delivery,” he said. “It really is an incremental business to the brand. The flavor profile is very different from the traditional Tic Tac. This is significantly stronger… It’s really a different consumption occasion.”

Meanwhile, Ferrero is phasing out Tic Tac Mixers, a line of dual-flavored candies that debuted three years ago, he confirmed.

Tic Tac Gum, introduced two years ago in fresh mint, spearmint and cool watermelon flavors, is “a different game,” he said.

“It was the most successful gum launch in the past four or five years in the market. We did over $50 million retail sales in year one…

“The gum category has been very competitive lately, not only with us entering it but also with a lot of competitive movement around it. It’s a challenging category. we’re happy with what we achieved in the first year of it.”