Dylan’s Candy Bar Brings Art, Pop Culture, Fashion to Candy

Posted by Barney Beal, Content Director

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a regular series profiling NetSuite customers who are changing their markets through innovation. For more interviews in the series, visit the Profiles in Innovation landing page.

“Disruption for successful companies is the norm, it’s not the exception any longer. For companies to stay relevant, they need to constantly innovate and evolve to meet the customer’s needs.” Erica Stevens
VP of Supply Chain and Information Technology of Dylan’s Candy Bar

For satisfying the grownup sweet tooth. Dylan’s Candy Bar is the only place in the world that sells Kalteen Bars, the fictional protein bar Lindsay Lohan’s character gave to her frenemy in the movie “Mean Girls” to make her gain weight. It’s just one of the many ways the confectionary empire, founded in 2001 by Ralph Lauren’s daughter Dylan, brings art, pop culture and fashion to the world of candy. The flagship store in New York City features cupcake booths and dripping chocolate shelves, showing that even something traditional as eating and experiencing candy can be reimagined in exciting ways.

Erica Stevens, Vice President of Supply Chain and Information Technology at Dylan’s Candy Bar, says staying focused is important when looking to disrupt a market. She credits the company’s omnichannel approach for the brand’s strong relationship with customers from all around the world.

How is Dylan’s uniquely positioned to disrupt either the candy or retail industry?

That’s a big question. I think that we have a very unique take on the industry, in that most businesses in the candy world are just pulling from large candy vendors, or they are small candy manufacturers that focus on lollipops or focus on chocolates and truffles and such. We are, at our core, merging the worlds of fashion, pop culture, and candy. It is always the newest and greatest and what people are seeing elsewhere in their world, and we’re bringing it into candy. We’re a bit different in that regard.

What elements do you need to have in place before preparing to enter or disrupt a market?

I think it’s both a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, as well as a strong foundation. Being able to accomplish one goal before moving onto the next is so important. Where I see a lot in startups and newer companies fail, is that their goal is to not only disrupt their industry, but business as a whole. Staying focused on what you’re trying to accomplish, getting that down, and then going on to the next thing, I think, is really important. Having too many balls in the air at once can bring you very far, but often times, it’s going to mean that you’re going to have a lot of balls falling at the same time. I think success in very disruptive, agile, constantly changing companies, it is also taking care of yourself, and making sure that you’re not in a million different directions so that you can always be focused on what the end goal is and not on all of these details of 14 different projects going on at once.

How is your company uniquely positioned to deliver on customer needs and experiences? Is there a way that you measure the level of customer experience or customer satisfaction you’re providing?

Yeah, we are bringing the entertainment in as a part of our product development. We, as far as our “retailtainment” goes, have a licensing agreement this year with Mean Girls, as the Mean Girls franchise is celebrating its 11th anniversary this year. We have developed a number of products that we launched last quarter, as well as Mean Girls specific items in our Candy Café. We partnered with a trivia company to do trivia nights in our stores, to bring all of our different channels, and different aspects of our company into the celebration of such an iconic piece of pop culture. Ultimately, we are always starting with the product and ending with the product in our plans.

How has the omnichannel experience helped you?

We’ve always had a strong brand. We have a lot of tourists visiting us. If you look at any top 10 list of what to do when you visit New York, we are often on that list. The omnichannel experience has allowed us to continue our relationship with customers that are coming from, let’s say, out of state, or even out of country, to be able to continue that Dylan’s Candy Bar experience.

What do you think is in store for the future of retail and where do you anticipate disruption to take place next?

I think there’s going to continue to be blurred lines between the brick and mortar and the online experience with customers. That is the direction we’ve place great emphasis on and we’re going to continue to focus. Our mobile devices have become an extension of ourselves.  As retailers, we need to figure out how we best utilize mobile technology to extend and personalize the experience for our customers. 

What do you think is something modern businesses must do to survive?

I think that disruption for successful companies is the norm, it’s not the exception any longer. For companies to stay relevant, they need to constantly innovate and evolve to meet the customer’s needs.

To learn more about innovation and the rapidly-changing landscape for business, download the white paper, The Physics of Business are Being Rewritten.

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