Talking Shop with… Kyle Stenzel

The vice president of marketing for Signature Brands says his company’s innovation pipeline assures that the dessert category will remain fresh with consumers and vital to retailers.

Grocery Headquarters: What is the current state of the dessert decorating category?

Kyle Stenzel: Dessert decorating is a category that continues to be extremely important to our retail partners. The popularity of TV shows focusing on dessert products have helped drive additional consumers into the category. Signature Brands has delivered products that have been relevant to those new consumers and our existing core consumer base to drive category growth in a category that provides strong margins to our retailer partners.

What is driving growth in the category?

It’s important for us to continue to drive the consumer to the baking aisle for more than just the key holiday decorating seasons. And, during the key holiday decorating periods, we need to continue to help drive incremental purchases for our retailer partners. We’ve approached those challenges in multiple ways. First, we’ve focused our innovation on everyday items, such as our Fondant Toppers, which inspire mom to bake and decorate with her kids as an everyday, fun activity. Second, we’ve taken a category management approach in working with our retail partners to provide solutions that drive incremental purchases. For example, in seasonal shippers and half pallets, we’re focusing on a recipe solution in which mom will pick up her cake mix and complement that with cupcake liners, cupcake icing and decors to complete a themed cupcake activity. Gone are the days that a shipper is created containing just decors. Although decors are a strong seasonal segment, we want to assist our retail partners in building the basket by inspiring mom to go the extra step in creating a family memory.

Tell us about your licensing with some well-established brands and what the thinking is behind this strategy.

Licensing has always been a natural fit for Signature Brands. As a licensee of the Betty Crocker brand going back 25 years to when General Mills owned our company, we’re well versed in licensed products. In today’s economy, mom does not want to make the mistake of being let down by a brand she does not trust. Betty Crocker is a brand mom trusts and one in which we continue to expand our presence with. In addition, we’ve rolled out and continue to roll out products with relevant licenses that will continue to drive additional traffic. Whether it’s leveraging the strength of a nationally recognized chocolate brand like Hershey’s for a chocolate or S’mores Icing or Disney characters for items to create a child’s birthday solution, we give consumers trust in our products.

How do you help retailers promote the products you offer?

For everyday merchandising, Signature Brands offers several in aisle fixtures that help merchandise the products in an easy to shop, solution oriented manner. For peak seasonal consumption periods, various off shelf merchandising vehicles exist to supplement the seasonal demand that spikes to levels that the in aisle fixture cannot support consumption of. Those off- shelf merchandising vehicles really help retailers drive incremental, impulse purchases in a high margin category.

Have consumer trends in the category had any impact on the decisions Signature Brands is making in the category?

We’re constantly talking to our consumers and they continue to tell us that they want to create special family moments through shared baking and decorating activities with their family, but are pressed for time. They also rely on our products to deliver achievable results that give them pride in what they’ve created. Signature Brands is continuing to focus on innovation that gives mom something that is easy to use, yet delivers professional-looking results in a time commitment under two hours. Our collaboration with General Mills on recipe creation has focused on delivering on those key requirements of our consumers.

What does the future look like?

Signature Brands remains committed to the category. Our tremendous innovation pipeline will assure that the category will remain fresh and relevant with consumers. We’re putting focus on ways to attract more Millennials to the category and inspire existing bakers and decorators to engage more. All of this will lead to additional opportunities for our retail partners to grow overall category sales.

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