How DTC sampling is helping Better Bears shake up the gummy space

The naturally sweetened treat has been driving major interest for its retail launch.


You’ve heard the expression build a better mousetrap, but what about a “better” gummy bear?

Candyverse Brands manufactures Better Bears, all-natural plant-based low sugar gummy bears that are coming to Loblaw and Save-On banners nationally. But the “better for you” gummies have already been generating interest via DTC sampling program SampleSource to help it disrupt the confectionery space.

“One of the big things we believe in is the trial piece [of the launch],” says Simona Irwin, marketing lead at Better Bears. There’s a sampling card and coupon component sent to 25,000 homes to drive purchase, with messaging featuring callouts highlighting low sugar and plant-based on the front and better for you credentials on the back.

It’s targeting shoppers hunting for healthy and low-sugar options, which is typically younger parents but also conscientious calorie counters wanting to avoid sugar hangovers.

“We’re looking outside traditional in-store shopper marketing and to ‘how do we use digital marketing to drive people in-store and do that in a clever way?’” Irwin says.

The bright, pastel branding, meant to be instantly recognizable, was designed to both stand out at shelf, but also online to ladder back to the sampling assets.

In this health conscious environment, the brand’s extensive trialing and word of mouth has helped spur demand, Irwin says, and it seems to have paid off already: Candyverse just announced it delivered a 100% customer fill rate on purchase orders received of over 8,000 retail ready cases of Better Bears. The company says it is on track to be merchandised in more than 1,350 retail locations in Canada by June. 

For now, it’s going to continue to drive trial through sampling, although that’s not ruling out more traditional shopper assets in the future.

“I think endcaps are always quite powerful, especially for a grab-and-go product like candy, so POS materials, shippers, endcaps will definitely be on our radar,” Irwin says.

Better Bears has also commenced shipping on its new product and packaging for its Mixed Berry, Tropical Citrus and Variety SKUs. The packaging, the company says, is better able to lock in freshness and extend product shelf life, while maintaining a sustainable stance by being fully recyclable and providing more shelf life and merchandising flexibility.

There is innovation in the pipeline, Irwin says, adding that there will be three to four additional innovation items it’s working on and that two will be released this year.

Better Bears is not the only better-for-you gummy. SmartSweets, currently available at Walmart, makes the product claim it’s the “first candy that kicks sugar – naturally.”