Jelly Belly - Gearing up for the best ISM ever
Devising some of the world’s most creative confectionery ranges and flavours (Minion farts and Ba-na-na as an example!): this all adds up to a hugely impressive task for development teams at Jelly Belly. Neill Barston catches up with the company’s vice president of global marketing, Rob Swaigen, ahead of this year’s ISM.
Being famously favoured by President Reagan in the US proved a stroke of marketing gold regarding the fortunes of Jelly Belly beans.
The former actor-turned world leader’s love of the confectionery brand contributed to a total of 3.5 tonnes of beans being produced for his inaugurtion celebrations alone.
The famous remark made by the President was a turning point for the company. “You can tell a lot about a fella’s character by whether he picks out all of one colour, or just grabs a handful,” remarked President Reagan on just what he thought made these beans somewhat magical.
By that point in the early 1980’s, the company, was still known under its original family name of Goelitz, was already a firmly established player within the highly competitive America confectionery market.
Several decades later the business was rebranded as the Jelly Belly Candy Company in 2001, and is continuing to win over a whole new generation of confectionery fans with its range of eye- catching products.
The California-based business has become famous for its inventiveness, with its series of bean candies that broadened out from its original flavours to create a diverse menu of exotic options. These days, everything from popcorn varieties through to some creative Superhero editions, plus a Harry Potter sausage and black pepper and earwax, have all expanded the boundaries of its extensive range.
For those who are perhaps a little more health conscious, there is even a sports-based series of beans, which have been developed with added nutrients designed to offer a valuable energy boost for endurance athletes.
Among its impressive portfolio of around 50 confections, one of its most striking is the BeanBoozled brand. This eclectic mix of bean flavours may have been around for a few years, but they have fast become a firm favourite with fans of the brand. And having proved one of its top sellers, its outlandish flavours have captured consumers’ imagination with some truly unique pairings being created. From chocolate pudding and canned dog food, or barf and peach, or lawn clipping and lime flavour for good measure, have demonstrated this is far from an ordinary product range.
As Rob Swaigen, the company’s vice president of global marketing enthuses. “BeanBoozled has become something of an internet sensation, with fans from around the world playing the accompanying spinner with a risk and reward element that has given it wide appeal.
While we launched the brand quite a few years ago, it has gained so many fans and has achieved a huge amount of awareness around the world. It’s a novelty product which involves risk and reward with the spinner game challenge that people are really enjoying”. He adds. “And we’ve seen fans’ videos on Youtube that are getting 25 or 30 million views.” As a result the past 12 months have proved to be some of the company’s most successful ever.
Having worked for the business for the past 15 years, he says it has proved particularly rewarding, especially in stepping up recently to his present role leading marketing for its global operations. As Rob explains, it has certainly developed considerably since joining the business, and he says it has been particularly refreshing to work for a company that is willing to do things a little differently and think creatively ‘outside the box’ in generating new, often especially quirky product ideas. He says this is perfectly illustrated with Jelly Belly’s plans for the ISM.
“For this year’s ISM we will be doing some special editions including a new Minion themed BeanBoozled beans, which include Minion Fart and Ba-na-na flavours, with the spinner game that is linked to it being a very intuitive product.
“We are also introducing a new game board for our Minion edition beans that includes more developed rules, game pieces and dice that we hope is going to take this to the next level, and is something that people have really been calling for,” he adds of the confectionery phenomenon that shows no sign of slowing interest any time soon. Its popularity has been further boosted by the launch of a dedicated app.
While producing a host of flavours has been of central importance to the brand, the company has also ensured that its bean ranges are fat-free, as well as being free from gluten, wheat, dairy and gelatine. As the company’s marketing vice president adds, “it’s the sheer range of flavours that make these beans special, and there is rarely a dull moment within the company in terms of its drive to devise evermore elaborate ranges. We’ve been running on all channels, so beyond our BeanBoozled range of jelly beans, we have also developed new gummi items, which are now part of the many different confections that we manufacture.
We have tried to develop products for different markets and occasions including our novelty products, such as the new Mixed Emotions range that feature smiling faces, a blue bean for feeling sad, and another representing love.
This taps into a connection between flavour and emotions that we’ve toyed with for a number of years. We now see people using emojis to express their feelings – there is a huge percent of people now doing this. It gave us a reason to revisit that connection of feelings to flavour.” Revealed Rob on its product development, which he said extended into ideas for bespoke lines of products that cater for events such as a girls’ night out or other popular social gatherings.
To its credit, the company has made particularly strong use of social media to spread the word of its offerings, which is clearly something its customer-base has appreciated.
There is plenty of optimism surrounding its preparation for ISM what will probably prove the biggest show of the year.
“We’re coming into ISM after a good year with the business and a lot of new ideas that we are launching, so it should be a really good event, as I’ve been impressed by the scale of it all from my previous visits,” concludes Rob on the company’s all-important preparations for this major international showcase.
Visit https://www.jellybelly.com for more information.