Sweets & Snacks Expo 2021

Hershey reveals product innovation and growth strategies for the ‘new normal’ at Sweets & Snacks Expo

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Hershey's Reese's Big Cup Stuffed with Pretzels is named best chocolate winner at Sweets & Snacks 2021 Most Innovative New Product Awards. Pic: Hershey
Hershey's Reese's Big Cup Stuffed with Pretzels is named best chocolate winner at Sweets & Snacks 2021 Most Innovative New Product Awards. Pic: Hershey

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The premier trade show for the candy and snack categories is back after a 12-month break and offers visitors to the Indiana Convention Center the opportunity to discover new confectionery and snack products, actionable insights and unparalleled access to industry and retail personnel.

The Hershey Company always commands a large presence at the Sweets & Snacks Expo, and this year is no different – apart from, of course, dealing with the aftermath of a pandemic as businesses struggle to get back to normal.

There’s a lot of excitement and pent-up demand for the in-person show this year. With two years of innovation and new products, the resilient treating and snacking categories will be on full display at the 2021 Sweets & Snacks Expo​," said John Downs, President and CEO of the National Confectioners Association, at the opening ceremony.

Visitors to Hershey’s booth (#11802) can sample new product offerings from Reese’s, Hershey’s and KitKat as well as hear directly from the company’s experts about how deeply understanding consumers is the key to capturing growth in a dynamic retail environment.

Consumer insights

Digital commerce, multiple fulfillment and checkout options in-store are giving shoppers more options than ever before, the company reveals.  These options combined with heightened expectations for safety and convenience –accelerated by the pandemic – are forcing retailers to adapt faster than ever. 

What we found, even before the pandemic, was that shoppers expect a connected experience, no matter where they are purchasing their items​,” says  Dave Nolen, Vice President of Category Management and Shopper Insights, The Hershey Company.

Even as mission-driven trips and click-and-collect orders are increasing, we’re finding that 55-70% of shoppers purchase additional items, beyond their in-store pickup order. Whether people are shopping online or in-store, there’s a strong opportunity to get them to consider purchasing something that wasn’t on their initial shopping list​.”

While retailers are addressing the needs for convenience and efficiency with reimagined front ends, Hershey sees continued growth opportunity for retailers in front-end redesign that include evolving pay points, queueing strategies and cashier-less checkout. Changes in these areas are important to meeting consumer expectations, while also helping create engagement and drive bigger baskets.

Shopping physical and digital shelves

Latest research from Hershey found that three out of four consumers shop both online and offline, with one in three in-store purchases originating from something the shopper found online  - while one in four online purchases originate from an in-store visit.

While the pandemic has certainly placed more emphasis on online shopping during the past year, it has also reinvigorated people’s excitement about purchasing items in-store​,” says Nolen. “Although online shopping will continue to be a top way people shop moving forward and stores will continue to offer curbside orders, connected, consumer-facing platforms instore and online are the experiential game changer.​”

Product innovation

Hershey revealed that its broad portfolio of brands were among the most popular treats during the lockdown phases of the pandemic, and the company says it will continue to push into new areas of snacking “to meet changing consumer interests in all-day snacking occasions and better-for-you options​.”

Among the innovations on display at the Hershey Sweets & Snacks Expo booth are:

  • KIT KAT Thins – more than 30% thinner than the standard KIT KAT bar
  • Reese’s Snack Cakes, the first-of-its-kind mid-morning cake treat
  • Reese’s Stuffed with Pretzels, that offers both an indulgent treat and a feeling of satiation
  • Hershey’s better-for-you line and rebrand of its Zero Sugar offerings
  • Organic Hershey’s Bars and Organic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • Whozeewhatzit – the brand’s first bar in the past decade

Spurred by the continuing at-home occasions like backyard s’mores making, baking and family movie nights, Hershey says it will continue to innovate through new packtypes and seasonal offerings as well as the continued development of its Hersheyland.com portal that offers inspiration, recipes and craft suggestions to support new occasions and celebrations.

Destination retail

During the Sweets & Snacks Expo, Hershey will also have two category management experts speaking to front end opportunities and the connected experience between the physical and digital shelf. Gina Peterson, Director, ReSET, will be discussing ‘The Future of Paypoints’ in the Destination Retail  on Thursday, June 24 at 9:30 am and 2:45 pm. She will offer an inside look at how COVID-19 and changing consumer expectations are shaping front-end redesign.

Trish Mielke, Senior Manager of Holistic Captaincy, will share her expertise on the evolution of the customer’s journey and how it requires increased options for shopping, and opportunities for engagement along the path to purchase. ‘Connecting the Physical and Digital Shelves’ will be presented in the Discovery Theater on Thursday, June 24 at 12:30 pm.

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