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You have been asked to evaluate a new form of hard candy. Past research shows that when people are eating hard candies, a large majority of them like to chew the candy. Indeed, consumers report their two favorite moments when eating a hard candy are the initial taste (i.e., when they first put the candy in their mouth) and the final crunch (i.e., when the candy is small enough to chew). Research suggests that people enjoy the crunch for two reasons: (1) crunch is widely enjoyed in a variety of foods (e.g., snack chips and breakfast cereal), and (2) chewing hard candy gives an intense burst of flavor. However, very few consumers chew hard candy immediately after putting it into their mouth because the candy is too large and too difficult to crunch. Most consumers say they wait until the candy has dissolved enough in their mouth to be crunchable, and some people report they get impatient waiting for that moment.
Your company's food scientists have experimented with creating a hard candy that is designed for chewing. The first attempt was forming the hard candy into thin sheets about the size and shape of ½ a stick of gum. The idea was that consumers would not have to wait as long to get to the pleasurable crunch stage. Unfortunately, the thin sheets had an inherent problem: the product was too fragile. Even with delicate handling, the product would break into bits and dust inside the package. As a result, the idea for chewable hard candy never progressed out of the lab.
Recently, your company's food scientists have solved the packaging problem, and they have brought a proposal for a chewable hard candy to your team for initial evaluation. The working name for the product idea is lattice candy, but that name is open to change. The design is a two-part product (prototype shown here). First, a hollow bubble is made with a very thin wall of hard candy, about the size of a pea. Next, the bubble is surrounded by a lattice of hard candy. The candy bubble by itself would not be strong enough to resist breaking, and the lattice shell could not be manufactured without the bubble as a foundation. By pairing the bubble and the lattice together, the product is strong enough to do very well in packaging. The product can be created with a variety of flavors. As shown here with the prototype (strawberry flavored), it is possible to have contrasting colors for the bubble and the lattice.
The product was tested in the lab with consumers. The product testing was designed to answer a very specific research question: how thick should the lattice shell be? If the lattice shell is too thick, it would be too difficult for people to chew. Based on customer feedback, the food engineers made a very thin lattice shell -- so thin that practically all consumers can crunch the candy easily and immediately, right out to the bag.
Lattice candy has been developed into a new product idea that is being proposed to you and your team. The proposal is a major departure from traditional, individually wrapped hard candy. The idea is for the lattice candy to be sold as a crunchy alternative to small-piece candy like M&Ms and Skittles. To appeal to impulse buyers, lattice candies would be packaged in single-serving bags similar to M&Ms and Skittles. However, because each piece of lattice candy is hollow and light, a single-serving ounce bag of lattice candy would be larger (7" x 3" in size, with about 75 candies) than a single-serving 1.7 ounce bag of M&Ms (6" x 2.5", with about 53 candies). The nutritional information for one bag of lattice candy (1.3 ounces total weight) would be approximately 122 calories, 0g of fat, 27g of carbohydrate; this can be compared to the nutritional information for one bag of M&M's (1.7 ounces total weight, 240 calories, 10g of fat, 34g of carbohydrate) and one bag of Skittles (2.2 ounces total weight, 250 calories, 2.5 g of fat, 56g of carbohydrate). The proposal is for the lattice candy to be distributed nationwide and displayed on retailer shelves next to other single-serving candy (e.g., near cash registers), with a retail price targeted to be the same as other single-serving candy (a nationwide average of about $.82). The proposal is for the lattice candy to be launched in three flavors: strawberry, caramel, and honey apple.