Honibe launches a kid-friendly lollipop lozenge

The PEI brand adds another honey-based SKU, tapping into demand from parents for products they can monitor.

Honibe--Honibe- launches HoneyPops- the first pure honey throat

While it may sound like a sugary breakfast cereal, HoneyPops is actually a newly launched lollipop format lozenge aimed at kids, positioned as an approachable, better-for-you product.

HoneyPops, the first pure honey lollipops for kids, are made by PEI-based Honibe (“hon-ee-bee”), part of Island Abbey Foods. Island Abbey Foods, founded in 2004, is a Canada and FDA licensed Charlottetown-based specialty food and natural health product brand whose standard format pure honey lozenges aimed at adults, are currently available at Shoppers Drug Mart as well as independent health food stores.

The company boasts natural ingredients with zero added sugar for the child-friendly lollipop lozenges, made from 99% pure honey, which the brand says has a lower glycemic index than sugar, giving it a competitive advantage in a space where consumers are increasingly concerned about total health.

Eins Mutuc, Honibe’s director of marketing tells strategy that conversations with pharmacists revealed there was a demand for a kid-friendly, natural-ingredient lollipop for cough and cold relief.

“The insights we considered were centered around creating a product that tastes good and comes in kid-friendly flavours while allowing parents to visibly monitor consumption,” Mutuc says, adding that HoneyPops are aimed at parents who desire healthy products with easy to understand ingredients.

The messaging is centered around honey (with prominent images of bees and honeycombs) and includes a “new for kids” call-out on packaging, which also highlights that it’s made in Canada. The product is being marketed at shelf with danglers, posters and signs for endcaps.

HoneyPops-Static

HoneyPops are packaged in a stand-up resealable pouch and the cases are display-ready. “With this packaging, we also wanted to offer retailers the flexibility of being able to merchandise HoneyPops bags on pegs, shelf trays and clip strips,” Mutuc says.

HoneyPops pouches contain blister packs, and Mutuc admits that because the products are made with sticky honey, wrapping them in a more environmentally friendly packaging (such as paper) is not feasible. Blister packaging, she says, prevents moisture from entering, which could make the product rehydrate and convert back to its liquid form.

The brand’s mission, Mutuc says, is to develop innovative honey-based products that can extend beyond coughs and colds, with the opportunity to also soothe dry throats in winter and that can be stirred into tea.

Its distribution strategy has been traditionally focused on pharmacies and also natural health stores, but its goal is to expand to grocery and other major retailers. Mutuc says that it aims to get the product to consumers and retailers in advance of the next cold and flu season, which is a challenge as it often takes a longer buying cycle for smaller brands to reach mainstream shelves.

The brand is looking to allocate enough time for retailer awareness and consideration for its other products, which include its natural honey-based sleep support, immune support multivitamins for children and adults (which are increasingly top of mind for consumers during COVID), as well as its conventional vitamins, Omega-3s, and honey drops.

Products are also sold via the company’s site and on Amazon, where it competes with Fisherman’s Friend, Ricola and Halls (which, with its own medicated lollipop format, is HoneyPops direct competitor, says Mutuc).

Honibe’s main focus is on digital marketing and public relations. Mutuc says sit leaned on Facebook and Instagram ads to help target audience segments interested in better-for-you products.

Recently, Island Abbey Foods, which has partnerships with several European natural health brands such as Orion and Gifrer, announced layoffs of 30 temporary staffers thanks to a decline in coughs and colds due to pandemic measures.

Packaging design was done in-house, while Victoria, BC-based agency Pilothouse handled its digital marketing and Toronto-based Branding & Buzzing led PR.