Whether it’s to fill up easter baskets and plastic eggs for the kids, or snagging a bag of cadbury mini eggs before they’re out of our lives for another year, Americans spend millions on Easter candy each year. According to data from the National Retail Federation, the average American typically spends about $20 on Easter candy, and some years Easter is actually the top candy-selling holiday of the entire year.
Always the data fanatics, and always following ecommerce trends, this got us wondering: which Easter candy is truly the most popular of them all? Which ones get the biggest boost during the Easter season? And did the pandemic change anyone’s Easter candy shopping habits last year?
To find out the answers to these questions, our data science team chose several types of candy and analyzed market demand on Amazon for 2019 and 2020.
Which types of Easter candy are most popular?
We started by examining demand for different types of candy on Amazon in the weeks leading up to Easter, specifically March 15th through April 15th (Easter 2020 was on April 16th).
Here’s what we found:
It seems that almost no Easter basket went without its fair share of jelly beans last year, as this sweet saw the most demand during Easter on Amazon in 2020. Hot on its heels in second place was “Hershey,” a term that encompasses all sorts of chocolate Easter candy options. Whether you are a dark, white, or milk chocolate fan, Hershey’s has a sweet for your holiday.
M&Ms came in at a solid third, but Peeps—a marshmallow candy that’s often the butt of the joke during Easter—was the fourth most in-demand candy during the period we analyzed. (Peeps lovers: keep that in your back pocket next time someone mocks your favorite Easter treat.)
Reese’s Eggs were the next most popular seasonal candy after Peeps, followed by Cadbury Eggs and Cadbury Mini Eggs (although the two are separate products, it’s likely that some users who were shopping for the ever-popular Cadbury Mini Eggs used the broader “Cadbury Eggs” term instead).
Which types of candy get the biggest boost from Easter?
Jelly beans and M&Ms may have seen the most overall demand during the Easter season last year, but those are types of candy that are more likely to remain popular throughout the year. So we next wanted to see which candy got the biggest boost during Easter relative to the rest of the year.
To do so, we took average weekly demand from March 15th through April 15th for each type of candy and compared it to their average throughout the year.
While broader candy types like jelly beans, Hershey, and M&Ms saw the most overall interest during March and April, the Easter favorites got a much larger boost during the time period we analyzed.
Unsurprisingly, the items that aren’t readily available outside of Easter saw the biggest boost. Cadbury Eggs experienced a 500% increase while Reese’s Eggs got a 470% boost, making them a strong contender for the best easter candy according to demand.
Somewhat more surprising was the boost that Starburst Jelly Beans experienced. A product widely available throughout the year, it still saw a 321% increase in demand as it rode the coattails of Easter’s jelly bean frenzy.
Hersey and M&Ms, meanwhile, experienced more moderate boosts in volume. But as terms that are popular no matter the season, those boosts were still significant.
To better visualize Easter’s impact on candy sales, we charted weekly demand for all of 2020.
As you’d expect, demand for specialty Easter candies spend most of the year at or close to zero, then skyrocket in Mid-March before peaking the week of April 5th.
Peeps, Robin’s Eggs, and Cadbury Mini Eggs all see a moderate bump during the Christmas holiday season, but one that still pales in comparison to the spring.
When examining “regular” types of candy you can see that Easter is the time of year for jelly beans of all shapes and sizes. While the product is available year round, jelly beans are widely associated with easter, most likely due to their egg-like shape and variety of pastel colors, making them a smart snag for the family easter baskets.
Hershey also experienced its highest peak during Easter with a 98% increase during the week of April 5th just edging out its Christmas spike.
M&Ms popularity cannot be understated, as it came in as the #3 most in-demand candy we evaluated during Easter, but both Halloween and Christmas both saw much higher levels of demand.
How did COVID-19 impact candy sales?
There’s no question that last Easter was unlike any in generations. The holiday fell early on in the pandemic, as Americans were still adjusting to a new normal of working from home, social distancing, and self-quarantining. As a result, millions of Americans were undoubtedly forced to adjust their holiday plans on the fly.
We wanted to see if Amazon saw a change in Easter candy shopping habits last year as a result of COVID-19, so we compared demand in 2020 to 2019. Here’s what we found:
Easter 2020 brought a boost in demand for every term we analyzed when compared to 2019. Seasonal candies saw the biggest increases, with Cadbury Eggs, Reese’s Bunny, Robin’s Eggs, and Reese’s Eggs all experiencing more than a 200% increase in demand in March and April of last year compared to the same time in 2019.
This next chart is a month-by-month comparison of 2020 vs 2019 for Easter-specific candy.
As you can see, chocolate bunnies saw a massive surge in March 2020 compared to 2019, almost certainly as parents across the country started thinking about filling up Easter Baskets without taking a trip to the supermarket.
Most of the Easter candy we examined experienced a huge spike in March, with numbers coming down (though still remaining high above 2019) in April.
Cadbury Mini Eggs, however, saw an impressive sustained increase over 2019 throughout most of the year. (Maybe because consumers now realized they could get their favorite sweet fix, year-round, online.)
Most candy saw a huge year over year increase in demand early in the pandemic, likely as many people turned to online shopping to avoid trips to the grocery store.
Starburst Jelly Beans experienced the biggest 2020 spike, also in March, suggesting that Easter was also a factor in early pandemic candy shopping.
Demand fell in early summer, for even the best candy, as things began to open back up, but year over year demand stayed high for most types of candy as online shopping became more common throughout the pandemic (and, let’s be honest, a lot of us have turned to candy as a go-to stress reliever over this past year).
A lesson for brands
From our data, it’s clear that major holidays like Easter can significantly increase demand for both seasonally specific products like chocolate bunnies and Reese’s Eggs, but also for items that you can sell year round like jelly beans and regular chocolate candy.
Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, schedule a demo today.
And, if you’d like to receive all the latest news, info, and analysis on what’s trending in ecommerce, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights on the right.