Spangler Candy Company announced recently they are not producing Sweethearts candies for Valentine’s Day this year.
Kathryn LaTour, associate professor of services marketing, looks at how early childhood exposure to products influences feelings and behaviors later in life. She says stopping production could be positive for the brand but is risky since young consumers will not have the candies to create memories this Valentine’s Day.
“Not all experiences are equally important, some have greater impact on who we are and what we desire today. First experiences are particularly important. First kiss, first love, first Valentine’s…these all stick with us and set the stage of what we want and how we judge similar experiences. Brands or products that become nested in these experiences harbor a strong emotional connection to consumers. They allow us to travel back in time and remember who we were, and relive those positive memories.
“Sweethearts, as the candy associated with young Valentine’s party exchanges, is a product that has become culturally fused with the holiday, particularly in the U.S. It is not particularly surprising to hear the consumer uproar when the Spangler Candy Company, which purchased Necco last September, announced they will not be producing the candies this year.
“Spangler says they may restart production in 2020. This gap year can have potential positive effects for the brand in terms of getting consumers to recognize the role and importance this candy has played in their lives. Think New Coke and the way they successfully reintroduced Coca-Cola Classic in 1985 when they ‘discovered’ the strong emotional connection consumers had with their original formula.
“But stopping production this year also risks that young consumers will not have the candy to create these special bonds and memories.
“Depending on Spangler’s next moves on production and marketing, this could either be a big win for both the company and consumers, or a big loss.”