The Wow Factor: Jelly Belly’s Colorful Licensing Play

Jelly Belly capitalizes on the color, shape and flavors it has built over its long history to bring new licensed products to market.
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July 16, 2019

The Wow Factor: Jelly Belly’s Colorful Licensing Play

It's arguable that Jelly Belly is synonymous with jelly beans, much like particular major soda brands are proxies for cola or Kleenex is colloquial for tissue. Jelly Belly has come to symbolize quality and sophisticated flavor profiles in the candy category, and it's no wonder–they've perfected the business.

A candy company (marketed originally under the Herman Goelitz brand) since 1898, Jelly Belly came into its more current iterations in 1976. Since, each decade has brought new innovations in flavor, color and shape, all tenets of the Jelly Belly brand as we know it today. (Jelly Belly Candy Company became the company's official name in 2001.) Today, more than 15 billion Jelly Belly jelly beans are consumed annually.

And with that long history and deep brand recognition–94 percent, according to Jelly Belly, and the No. 1 jelly bean brand in major markets such as the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia and Germany–comes opportunity for brand extensions.

"Jelly Belly is very on trend now, but

it was ahead of its time in taking something very humble and from that, creating something very interesting and premium," says Rob Swaigen, vice president, global marketing, Jelly Belly Candy Company. "Before Jelly Belly, jelly beans were largely relegated to Easter baskets and sold seasonally. Jelly Belly goes very deep into single flavors with flavors in the center of the shell, and made with real ingredients whenever possible like cherry juice, coffee and chocolate, which had never been done before. Jelly Belly then became something special that was premium priced that put jelly beans on the map. We have been thought of differently ever since with relevance all year long."

Licensing has been a part of the Jelly Belly business portfolio for well over a decade, amassing 35 partners throughout the world with placement in more than 40,000 retail doors. According to Jelly Belly, the company booked $75 million in retail sales of licensed consumer products in 2017, earning it a spot (No. 148) on

License Global

's Top 150 Global Licensors report. And with 100-plus flavors to pull from for inspiration, extension concepts are endless.

In partnership with licensing agent CAA-GBG, Jelly Belly has cultivated long-term partnerships that continually generate placement in every corner of the globe.

When extending the brand beyond its core candy, the Jelly Belly team is interested in licensing deals that make sense and that subscribe to its true brand tenets. This approach allows the company to tap into flavor and scent in a whole range of ways, from beauty products to scented screen wipes, air fresheners and even ice cream shops.

"We shoot for 'wow,' which is literally the [fourth generation candy maker] Herm Rowland litmus test for what is successful. It is at the top of the pyramid in how we think of product development," says Swaigen. "It's an experience that is difficult to define because there is no single element–it's all things coming together. When something is colorful, leverages the fun of the brand, has a whimsical, lighthearted nature and a scent that closely matches our core product–those are things we're looking for."

Hero licensed product extensions for Jelly Belly are numerous and varied, but certainly always fun...

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