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Into the Digital Aisle: What Does the Competitive Landscape Look Like for the Chocolate & Fudge Candy eCommerce Category?

The speed of the current evolution in the ‘Candy & Chocolate’ category is unprecedented. This pace of change is also seen broadly across all of e-commerce, as national brands are frequently out-maneuvered by digitally-native (and often unknown) brands. Micro-trends are now the new norm. And data is essential for brands to understand how to survive and thrive in the new normal of digital retail. One perspective that is often overlooked (primarily because of the difficulty in obtaining the data) is that of the cross-category competitive landscape. Historically limited to category specialists of apex brands, now data is accessible to emerging and start-up brands–which are increasingly competent in growing share without the brand and capital strength of the category incumbents. This article is intended to help those brands which have historically focused on brick & mortar retail to better understand the competitive landscape of e-commerce within the ‘Grocery & Gourmet Food’ sector. Category leadership can be obtained in both offline and online retail arenas, however, it requires an intense focus on tactical actions based on frequent access to performance data and trends. Without further ado, the current trends in the competitive landscape of the ‘Chocolate & Fudge Candy’ category. To best understand this, Reviate started by flying high at the 10,000 foot level at the top-most, ‘Grocery & Gourmet Food’ parent category, then they zoomed in through one of its primary sub-categories, ‘Candy & Chocolate’ to then land in Chocolate & Fudge Candy’.

Category Hierarchy

This is the most recent share of category unit sales for the ‘Grocery & Gourmet Food’ category, one of the primary e-commerce categories.

Source: unit sales share of ‘Grocery & Gourmet Food’, top-performing ASINs within the last 30 days.

As we can see, there is concentration in this category, with the top 5 subcategories (Beverages, Pantry Staples, Snack Foods, Candy & Chocolate, Breakfast Foods) driving 70.1% of the category sales. If we then zoom into ‘Candy & Chocolate’ we see the following:

Source: unit sales share of ‘Candy & Chocolate’, top-performing ASINs within the last 30 days.

There is concentration in this category, with the top 5 subcategories of ‘Candy & Chocolate’ (Jelly Beans, Chewy and Gummy Candy, Hard Candy, Suckers & Lollipops, Chewing Gum, Chocolate & Fudge Candy, Candy & Chocolate Bars) driving 69.2% of the category sales. If we then zoom one more time into ‘Chocolate & Fudge Candy’ we see the following:

Source: unit sales share of ‘Chocolate & Fudge Candy’, top-performing ASINs within the last 30 days.

The ‘Chocolate & Fudge Candy’ category is holding steady at 3 child categories. There is extreme concentration in this category, with the top 3 child categories (‘Candy & Chocolate Bars’, ‘Chocolate Truffles’, and ‘Fudge’) driving 100% of the unit sales volume.

Category Performance

How are these child categories performing? Some, like ‘Candy & Chocolate Bars’ and ‘Chocolate Truffles’ are peforming well. Here is a view of what is called the ‘Performance Frontier’, which is the boundary typically seen between sales performance and ratings. Said differently, brands struggle to grow e-commerce revenue without high ratings. Those brands that push the frontier through active ad spend against the right keywords can typically out-perform those brands that have high ratings but little sell-through. Categories in the ‘High Potential’ zone are ripe for aggressive brands to grow share.

Source: unit performance of top-selling ‘Chocolate & Fudge Candy’ on during the last 30 days.

Zooming in to the chart, above, the following top categories per quadrant are seen:

Category Comparison

E-commerce categories are constantly shifting, growing, and maximizing their revenue as responsive brands adjust their positions. The algorithms and merchants that run the e-commerce platforms also adjust the boundaries between categories, usually when one achieves sufficient size and search interest. As child categories gain critical mass, they at times become a peer category to their former parent category. The category evolution we have seen shows us that when a child category gains hierarchical levels, performance momentum increases, likely on account of the increased attention from e-commerce merchant teams. This implies that brands which position their products within the rising generation of subcategories and optimize their supply chain can capture the additional upside of category evolution. As we look into the ‘Chocolate & Fudge Candy’ category we see that 1 categories (‘Chocolate Truffles’) are currently performing at levels which warrant category evolution. Savvy brands will position products in these categories, as appropriate.

Source: unit performance of top-selling ‘Chocolate & Fudge Candy’ on during the last 30 days.

An additional perspective we find useful lies in comparing the average order value (AOV) and customer appreciation (as measured by quality and quantity of reviews) of the child categories to the Parent Category. Those quadrants are labeled as:

  • Jane Doe: low AOV – low customer appreciation on the matrix, and meaning that the category is not yet known nor is making material sales progress
  • MC Hammer: low AOV – high appreciation, and named after the 90’s-era, famous musician who became poor as quickly as he rose to fame
  • Amancio Ortega: high AOV – low appreciation, and named after the recluse billionaire who could be very famous, but isn’t
  • Alice Walton: high AOV – high appreciation, named after the U.S. billionaire philanthropist

Low-appreciation categories labeled as Jane or Amancio require additional investment to stoke the fires of demand. Low-AOV categories labeled as Jane or MC Hammer have upside potential if brands can use data to understand the high-volume price points and ensure that each one is covered by one of their portfolio’s products. Alice-labeled categories are strategically aspirational, and where sustained cash flow and brand strength can be generated.

Source: unit performance of top-selling ‘Chocolate & Fudge Candy’ on during the last 30 days.

In conclusion, brands that are successful on Amazon are increasingly those that employ a multi-brand, multi-category portfolio strategy. Doing this requires a data-driven perspective with frequent refreshes. Several brands are doing this well within the ‘Chocolate & Fudge Candy’ category, and as a consequence are driving significant results over under-performing brands, such as: 135x the revenue, 90x the revenue per ASIN, 53x the BSR rank, 116x the average review count, and 1x the average rating. Will your brand be one of those that performs?

More pricing insights are available at, as well as a more detailed, free report on Chocolate & Fudge Candy (and over 47,000+ other product categories).


All data is compiled and reported by Reviate.
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