The company’s further investment in its core portfolio is meant to appeal to people’s evolving snacking preferences, Hershey said.
“The convenience channel is evolving, and so are we. Candy and snacks will become the next great convenience experience – be it at the food service counter, in the aisle or at the checkout,” president at the company, Todd Tillemans, said.
Convenience store insights
Alongside showcasing new products, Hershey also presented key data regarding the confectionery category in c-stores at the trade show.
According to IRI data that includes total US c-stores ending Oct 1, 2017, the dollar sales of king-size confections posted the highest growth rate (32.1%) versus a year ago. Peg and pouch packed confectionery products posted 14.6% and 1.7% dollar sales increases respectively.
However, the dollar sales of theatre box, mint, gum and standard bags declined over the past year. Standard bag confections, in particular, decreased by 2.4% in terms of dollar sales, IRI data indicated.
For 2018, Hershey’s c-store strategy will focus on revitalizing standard bags, Hershey’s category analyst, Brian Clements, told ConfectioneryNews.
“We came out with a three-pronged strategy: One prong talks about our priority which is innovation. [Second,] we’re also launching every item in both king and standard size, and mixes in king and standard shippers,” he said. “A shipper is a standalone merchandising unit, for example, a cardboard display.”
The company’s third prong is helping convenience chains and independent store operators better understand shoppers’ behavior through insights and data, Clements added.
Putting high-velocity confections on shelf
Hershey also did an “eye-tracking” study over the past year, and found out the middle two to three shelves (strike zone) are where consumers shop the most in c-stores.
“Within that strike zone, we really want to focus on putting the top velocity items for the confections category,” Clements said.
IRI c-store data for the past 52 weeks ending Oct 1, 2017 showed that the top 15 velocity chocolate and non-chocolate items include many of the Hershey brands, with six Reese’s products being listed. Mars’ M&M’s, Twix and Snickers are also among the high velocity confections.
“These 15 items account for 50% of the everyday chocolate sales,” Clements noted. “Reese’s is actually two times bigger than Snickers, the second most popular confectionery brand in c-stores.”
Hershey mentioned its c-store partners, who have implemented the strategy, have seen their confectionery sales increase between 4% to 21% during the past year.