Local business owners are always looking for ways to improve their visibility and attract new customers—while incentivizing existing customers to keep coming back for more. Whether you own a café, a comic book shop, a hair salon, or something more unique, the little touches throughout your business can make a major impact in its longevity.
A common trick is to offer complementary candy to your customers, like a basket of lollipops on a table at the bank, or a handful of Tootsie rolls included in every box you ship out. This can be incredibly useful, but if you want to take the tactic further, consider investing in old-fashioned candy.
The Appeal of Candy
Let’s start with some of the benefits of candy, in general:
- Something extra. Candy is inexpensive, so it’s a cost-efficient way to include “something extra” for your customers. It’s a pleasant surprise that adds value in a subtle way and lends itself to memorability; people tend to remember when they get extra goodies after shopping with a store or service provider.
- A sugar rush. A bit of candy can also give people a temporary sugar rush, providing them with a pleasant taste and a small spike in blood sugar. If they associate this small sugar rush with your brand, they may come to think of your brand more positively.
- Children placation. Kids love candy. Adults aren’t always thrilled to be running errands with their kids in tow. If the parents are stuck with the kids, a small bit of candy can help them make the experience more pleasant for everyone.
Anyone can get modern candy for their store, but old-fashioned candy is a bit harder to find. There are dozens, if not hundreds of varieties of candy that are difficult to source or that have fallen out of popularity.
“Candies like Charleston Chew, Pop Rocks, Abba Zaba, Sugar Daddy, and wax bottles aren’t available in your local supermarket,” said Ken Shenkman of BulkCandyStore.com, which specializes in old-fashioned candies. “But for many people, they’re still the best.”
If you grew up with a different landscape of candy sales, you may already have a few (or a few dozen) favorites you miss seeing on store shelves. Otherwise, thanks to the internet, you can browse hundreds of options and find the perfect fit for your business.
But why do old-fashioned candies have a distinct advantage over the candies available to modern customers?
The Power of Nostalgia
For starters, there’s the influence of nostalgia. Nostalgia is one of the most powerful emotions someone can feel, and it’s been leveraged in the marketing and advertising strategies of countless brands. When someone sees something from their childhood—like a photograph, a piece of old technology, or in this case, an old-fashioned candy—they feel a mix of smaller emotions, including happiness when reminiscing about the past, sadness at the passage of time, and a wave of memories from the time period when the artifact was relevant. Together, these emotions produce nostalgia, a bittersweet comfort food that makes people easier to connect with. If harnessed properly, old-fashioned candy can give people that complex feeling.
Young, Old, and Everyone in Between
It’s not just for older people, who remember the candy in its heyday, either. The oldest members of your customer base will appreciate being reminded of their past. The youngest members will get a different benefit out of it—they’ll get to try something they may have never seen before. Because old-fashioned candies aren’t common in mainstream stores, you could potentially introduce a child to their first-ever Chick-o-Stick or Black Cow.
Conversation and Talking Points
It’s also worth noting the power of these old-fashioned candies as an initiator of conversation. When someone sees a Jolly Rancher or similar modern candy in a bowl, they might take one—but they’re not going to think much of it. On the other hand, if you have some rare or novel candy, you could incite further conversations between your account reps and your customers—or between your customers themselves. Either way, you’ll promote interaction surrounding your brand, which is only going to help you.
Old-fashioned candy is also a great way to differentiate your brand—which is vital if you want to survive in a competitive local market. Businesses need some combination of distinguishing factors that make them different. In other words, why would someone choose your business over a direct competitor? If everything else you offer is valuable, candy could break the tie.
A small basket of old-fashioned candy, or a few bits of nostalgic candy included with every order can make your local business more popular—and more memorable. Consider purchasing some for a trial run and see if you can get your customers talking.