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Hershey’s teen summit digs into Gen Z issues, with help from 22-year-old songwriter

By Kristine Sherred contact

- Last updated on GMT

In addition to the much-discussed emoji bar announced in May, Hershey has also toyed with adding inspirational phrases. Pic: Getty Images/Bloomberg
In addition to the much-discussed emoji bar announced in May, Hershey has also toyed with adding inspirational phrases. Pic: Getty Images/Bloomberg

Related tags: Hershey, Youth, charity, Gen Z, Consumer attitudes

Lauren Jauregui, who started touring as a teenager with girl group Fifth Harmony, will headline the candy maker’s first-ever Makers of Good Teen Summit in New York City on June 20.

With Jauregui as headliner for the one-day festival, she will share advice on how to overcome cyberbullying, according to a release from Hershey.

“Being on the road away from my friends and family and in the spotlight was not easy as a young teen,”​ said Jauregui. “I hope that by sharing my experience, I can help inspire teens to build connection.”

Other young adult leaders will add their voices as well, including Gabby Frost, who created a suicide prevention and mental health awareness organization called Buddy Project, and Javonte Francis, a global youth fellow at Facebook.

“Lauren and all of our inspiring summit speakers have used their voices to advocate for unique causes that increase inclusion and connection,”​ said Todd Tillemans, president of Hershey’s US division. He hopes the conversation will “inspire theiraction plans for increasing connection and empathy in their own communities ahead of the new school year.”

Attendees – including those who join via livestream – will come together to ‘develop strategies for overcoming social isolation in their communities.’

In conjunction with the Cigna US Loneliness Index, an Ipsos poll of 20k adults revealed that Gen Z (currently ages 13 to 23) is the ‘loneliest generation.’ Due in part to the proliferation of social media, said Hershey, “loneliness and social isolation among this generation are considered an epidemic with health impacts as severe as those caused by smoking and obesity.”

The confectioner hopes this summit, created under the umbrella of its ‘Heartwarming Project,’ will give not only teens but also parents and teachers a forum to build ‘more inclusive and empathetic communities.’ Several nonprofits, including the Boys and Girls Club of America and Beyond Differences, which encourages students to curb social isolation, have signed on to the event.

“Hershey has remained relevant with consumers for the past 125 years because of our commitment to making meaningful connections between people – a legacy dating back to our founder, Milton Hershey,”​ said Leigh Horner, VP of corporate communications and sustainability. “There are pressing issues facing teens today, and we believe we can help make a positive difference with Gen Z in tackling social isolation and loneliness in a uniquely Hershey way.”​ 

The 125-year-old company has recently attempted to attract millennial and Gen Z attention with the launch of its limited-edition emoji chocolate bar, which marked the first time in history that the iconic bar lost its signature logo. The bar's packaging has also received various alterations that feature, for instance, inspirational phrases like 'You're Amazing!' and 'You're the Best!'

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