Mars Wrigley and FanFood test confectionery sales through tech

By Kristine Sherred

- Last updated on GMT

FanFood lets consumers order concessions from their seat, with real-time order tracking akin to rideshare platforms like Uber and Lyft. Pic: Getty Images/TK 1993
FanFood lets consumers order concessions from their seat, with real-time order tracking akin to rideshare platforms like Uber and Lyft. Pic: Getty Images/TK 1993

Related tags Mars wrigley confectionery Mars incorporated Candy Confectionery business Retailers Sports drinks Technology Consumer attitudes mobile apps online retail

The confectioner tested FanFood’s mobile ordering platform at a Major League Baseball subsidiary team in July and August – and doubled sales.

FanFood​ offers technology to shrink concessions lines in sports arenas, theaters and other entertainment venues. Consumers can order food and drink from the app and, in many cases, select either express pickup or in-seat delivery. The app also lets users track their orders in real-time, and for retailers or brands, that means room for in-app advertising and promotions.

Since 2018, FanFood has garnered the business of more than 70 venues, including state high school sports associations, university stadiums, and minor league sports teams. The technology could also benefit premium box seats.

Mars Wrigley worked with the Chicago-based company on a pilot test at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, North Carolina. The result: confectionery sales at the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays (MLB team in Florida) doubled.

“Confectionery is an impulse category and the definition of impulse is evolving as technology influences consumers’ demands for ‘what I want, when I want it,’”​ said Mars Wrigley’s Kelley Walczak, a senior business development manager. “We see technology as an enabler to improve the shopping experience.”

The M&M’s maker has recently focused its retail attention off the shelf and into data and technology​. These powerful metrics can help retailers better understand their consumers while improving the shopping experience​.

The confectioner said it also gained insights to best practices for connecting with consumers at sports venues and converting them.

"We are always looking at new, tech-enabled ways to get our products into the hands of consumers faster to improve the overall shopping experience in a stadium setting (e.g. avoid the lines), and most importantly convert non-candy buyers to purchase," ​Walczak told ConfectioneryNews. "We decided to partner with FanFood to see if their tech-enabled solution would allow us to achieve these goals."

FanFood brings snacks to your seat

FanFood has been working with the Durham team for a while, so fans there were already familiar with the technology. That proximity made menu changes during the two-month test period fairly seamless, the two companies said.

“The value of FanFood’s mobile ordering platform goes way beyond efficient concessions operations and better food ordering experience for the fans,”​ said co-founder and CEO Carson Goodale. As a data aggregator with precise analytical tools, he added, “It not only helps concessionaires to generate more revenue, but also allows them to serve their fans better by meeting them where they are."

FanFood could soon be a force to reckon with in live event venues: in addition to $2m in funding from Phoenix Sports Partners, a Chicago-based sports technology and marketing firm, former Peapod technology chief Jeremy Niecikowski joined the team in July.

Holding that the stadium ordering concept will “very soon become mainstream,”​ Niecikowski previously worked for Grubhub, the leading food delivery app, and Uptake, an industrial analytics platform.

Goodale, who served in the National Guard, was one of nine startups selected for a six-month stint at WeWork, the co-working space. Bunker Labs, which specifically supports entrepreneurs who served in the military, helped organize the competition.

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