The US confectionery giant dominated this year’s Expo with a two-storey trade show booth design in the main hall, covering 6,120 square feet and including a popular coffee station, food service kitchen, numerous sampling stations and networking spaces.
In a recent study with Retail Dive, Hershey explored the needs of retailers, revealing key insights from this survey while also showcasing, products from its diverse portfolio, including Cadbury, FULFIL, Jolly Rancher, KIT KAT, Lily’s Sweets, ONE Bars, Reese’s, and ROLO, along with new product offerings from Pirate’s Booty and SkinnyPop Popcorn.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the 160 retailers participating in the study say they are planning to update their front-end store space to provide a more convenient and efficient shopping experience for consumers, including continued growth opportunities like paypoints and cashier-less checkouts. The said finding ways to redesign these spaces is important to meet evolving consumer expectations, improve customer experience, streamline operations and increase basket size.
Todd Scott, Manager, Corporate Brand & Editorial at The Hershey Company, told ConfectioneryNews: “We have been leading in the category management space for decades … and we’ve always had a sense of what has been going on in the retail space in terms of changes.”
He said regarding the new survey it was important that Hershey went out and asked retailers what they were really feeling, instead of trying to think what they were feeling, now many of the pandemic restrictions have been lifted in the United States.
“Retailers are aware of the changes they need to make to remain competitive and meet consumer demand. As well as more checkouts and self-checkouts, some were even beginning to look further down the road towards a cashier-less future,” he said.
“Not only from a customer experience standpoint but how does that help them reallocate their labour, as currently, they may have more check-out lanes than they need so staff can go and do online fulfillment somewhere else in the store for example.”
According to the survey, which will be officially released in early June 2022, 61.6% of the surveyed retailers plan to significantly renovate or update their store space in the next 1-5 years – the most popular update being the addition of new paypoints in their locations.
“In our survey, we found that 37.8% of retailers plan to increase the number of paypoints in their stores within the next year,” said Gina Peterson, Senior Manager of Retail Experience, The Hershey Company. “This is critical for many retailers in order to meet new expectations from consumers and continue to help drive bigger baskets. We can expect the trend toward more self-checkout and cashier-less paypoints to continue.”
Additionally, more paypoints can solve other challenges for retailers, too. While nearly 30% of respondents said that the greatest challenge to their location is staffing shortages, 34.8% said adding more self-checkout paypoints will help alleviate their staffing challenges. 31.1% of retailers even stated they envision a cashier-less future in their stores within the next 1-5 years.
The majority of retailers surveyed also shared that online shopping will make up more of their sales moving forward. While 15.9% of surveyed retailers predict more than half of their sales will derive from e-commerce in 2022, that percentage jumps to 26.8% of retailers who expect e-commerce to yield more than half of their total sales by 2027. However, unplanned and “treat myself moments” in stores continue to remain the driving forces for consumers.
“The trend of digital commerce sales continues to accelerate, but we know that consumers are mostly purchasing their products in stores,” said Peterson. “Unplanned buys and occasions are still important for consumers, which is why we are dedicated to helping our retail partners grow in new and innovative ways in their locations.”
Hershey also announced at the Expo it has renewed its partnership with Team USA and will partner with the LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Hershey will support Team USA through 2028 when the Games return to American soil, as well as during Paris 2024 and Milan Cortina 2026.
"We're proud that our iconic brands will continue to be a part of celebrations and the moments of goodness for both athletes and fans supporting Team USA through the LA28 Games," said Vero Villasenor, vice president of confection, The Hershey Company. "Our employees, partners and consumers who love our brands all share a passion and pride in celebrating our U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
Hershey also announced a significant move into the BFY category with two new better-for-you gummy variants - Lily’s Sweet Fruity Gummy Bear Friends and Lily’s Tart and Tasty Sour Gummy Worms.
Both sweet and sour treats have less than one gram of total sugar. Lily’s products are also gluten-free, fair trade certified, and made with non-GMO ingredients.
Hershey bought Lily’s gummies brand in 2021.