The Power Of Cross-Brand Collaborations


Washington — Cross-brand collaborations are starting to play a bigger role in the confectionery industry. These partnerships, that bring together candy brands with food and non-food partners, give each brand a chance to develop creative campaigns, increase awareness and drive sales, which can help both parties reach untapped audiences.

Building A Campaign

A partnership strategy usually begins upstream, according to David Lee, senior director, global licensing and partnerships, Kellogg Co. Starting with a brand’s major strategic initiatives informs which out-licensed categories should be the most relevant, he says.

 Every brand participating in a campaign ultimately wants to boost sales, he adds. “To do that, you have to generate awareness and convert that into buying opportunities,” Lee goes on to say.

Ferrara Candy Co., Inc. CMO Greg Guidotti also notes that in seeking out opportunities for partnerships and collaborations, the company looks for properties that fulfill two key requirements: they are relevant in the moment and they have broad appeal. 

 Ferrara has had a number of collaborations including a limited-edition candy and cookie lineup featuring its Trolli, Keebler, Nerds and SweeTarts brands and the Warner Bros. Pictures live-action/animated film Space Jam: A New Legacy.

The promotion had consumers scan a QR code on limited-edition packaging and displays to unlock an exclusive game and win prizes. 

“Partnering with Space Jam gave our customers the ability to interact with their snacks in a new way,” says Lauren Ruis, senior manager of brand experience at Ferrara. “By offering a variety of options, it helped keep our products at the forefront of their minds when they thought about the movie being released.”

Given these criteria, the Space Jam partnership “was an easy decision,” playing into the company’s broader product strategy, Guidotti says.

Picking The Right Partner

Just Born Inc.’s Peeps Brand Manager Caitlin Servian tells Candy & Snack TODAY that regardless of the legacy a product has, you have to keep it new and exciting — collaborations help do that. 

“Giving consumers unique ways to enjoy their favorite candies besides just eating them is important to staying relevant in an ever-changing consumer landscape,” she adds.

Past collaborations for the Peeps brand have included a seasonal marshmallow candy-flavored Italian ice from Rita’s Franchise Company, LLC, an Easter-inspired clog from casual footwear innovator Crocs, Inc. and a nail polish line with Sally Hansen Inc. 

“Picking the right partner isn’t always easy,” Servian admits. “We think about what we stand for as a company and try to find other companies that match.” 

She explains that because a major cornerstone of the Peeps brand is self expression, it picks partnerships with that in mind. 

Jeff Delonis, vice-president marketing and innovation at Kellogg, agrees, adding that  brands need to be a good fit with respect to positioning, values and interests.  

“Like any collaboration, a partnership between brands must deliver value to both parties involved,” he says. “This works when both share common ideals.”

Using Haribo of America, Inc.’s recent line with premium sock brand Falke as an example, Andreas Kuhnle, head of global marketing at the company, remarks that it was inspired by both brands understanding of the importance of family. 

“We’re both committed to accompanying our customers throughout their entire lives and offering the right product for every age and every taste,” he says. 

Haribo has had a number of other partnerships, from shoe lines with Puma SE and Vans, Inc. to a custom watch with Casio Computer Co., Ltd. Kuhnle reveals that these programs work because they connect consumers from two different markets and bring them together over specific products. 

“If you create something that combines two things a person loves, for example, a luxury sock brand and a favorite childhood candy, you can create an experience that enhances their perception of both brands,” he says. 

He goes on to explain that if someone buys a pair of Falke x Haribo socks because they grew up eating Haribo candy and ends up loving the socks, they might return to buy other products from the company. 

Kuhnle says that because collaborations can create new customers for both brands involved, it’s a win-win. 

Staying Relevant

These types of programs can be used to help explore new flavors and recipe applications, which can then create buzz and excitement around the core products. 

They can also give companies an opportunity to reach new consumers or provide unique experiences to those that are already fans of the brand. 

Exploring new flavors is something the Peeps brand has been doing for many years, Servian says. The company recently launched a Dr. Pepper-flavored marshmallow variety for the Easter season. 

“New flavors, shapes and varieties can help you stay relevant for longer,” Servian points out. “We want customers to see something unexpected from us on store shelves and think ‘I need to know what it tastes like.’”

Collaborations also show that a brand is relevant and cares about keeping up with the current trends and consumer demand, Guidotti says. When companies encourage consumers to share their experiences with products on social media, it creates a way for them to become involved with the products they are buying and encourages others to do the same. 

The Social Media Strategy 

 In addition to the potential to quickly go viral, social listening tools can help companies understand the changes in consumer engagement and how popular a collaboration is. This information can be crucial to a brand’s understanding of its own consumer demographic. 

Guidotti adds that because many of Ferrara’s consumers are Gen Z and native to the digital and social space, including something like a QR-enabled physical-to-digital experience gives the brand an opportunity to connect with consumers on a deeper level.

Going on to explain that in many ways partnerships are critical for modern marketing, Lee tells Candy and Snack TODAY that to break out with the utmost credibility, sometimes a partnership is immediately impactful.

“Not only has traditional marketing become more challenging because of the noise, but the financial effectiveness has waned over the years,” he says. “Partnerships bring in lifers, and we want our brands to be a deeper part of consumers’ lives.”