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Candy! Candy! Everywhere!

It’s hard to believe that a week ago today I was in Chicago at the NCA’s Sweet & Snack Expo 2011. Things are moving at a brisk clip in Goo Goo Land. This was my second trip in as many years to the Show and I’m amazed at the size of the show and the amount of candy that is on display. Still, this is a trade show and as such, it was important for us to beat the drum and let folks know that we’re back. New packaging, new ingredient declaration, new sustainability focus – we’re old, but we’re new!

We had a great show and had substantive conversations with several large U.S. retailers and distributors as well as some exciting conversations with exporters that wanted to take Goo Goo Clusters to Canada, Mexico, Europe and Japan. It was fun to think about the international Goo Goo Cluster but the truth is, my focus at this show was on just finding some solid distributors to help us grow our base in the Southeast. Strangely, I seemed to make better distributor connections with companies based pretty much everywhere else in the U.S. Northeast? Check. Southwest? Check. Northwest? Check. Great Lakes/Midwest? Check. Obviously, this is good news if you live in one of those parts of the country. Still, as we move toward Goo Goo Cluster’s centennial next year, it is massively important to me that we get better market penetration into the Southeast; our home base.

The people at the show – trade industry peers: buyers, brokers, distributors, vendors, writers, etc. – that stopped by our booth had really encouraging things to say about the new packaging and the taste of the product. As far as increasing our opportunities to find more retailers who want to sell Goo Goos, I’ve got a pocketful of business cards of interested buyers so I feel good about that aspect of the show too. I guess one negative aspect of the show is the way it separates the haves from the have nots. The Mars/Wrigley “booth” is the size of a football field. It’s funny to me that the big guys want to have these ostentatious displays when the reality is, their products are already ubiquitous in the marketplace. Like one sales guy from the Big Three said to me, “if we have to come to this show to sell then we’re clearly doing something wrong already”. Must be nice.

Sweet & Snack Expo 2011We had a lil’ 10′ x 10′ booth (the smallest booth size the NCA lets you buy to exhibit) but we probably did as much business as anybody at the show. A lot of these irons are in the fire so we’ll know in the coming months what truly transpired but a quick round of Monday Morning Quarterback this week in the office left me optimistic that the trip to Chi-town was worth it. Oh, and check the photo of me standing next to our Wild Goo Goo mascot. (If you didn’t see her in action in the Show Flash Mob you should check this out).

One way you will know that things went well is if you can find product closer to where you live than you could previously. How, you might ask will you be able to do this? Ah, that will be the subject of my next blog. Stay tuned!