Hershey delivers new virtual platform engaging with customers amid coronavirus pandemic

US-based confectionery business the Hershey Company has created a new virtual insights network (HIN) to enable greater engagement with consumers amid a challenging pandemic-hit retail landscape, reports Neill Barston

As the company explained, the new system is set to benefit customers both online and within stores, providing a key resource to showcase the latest ranges from the global business, and provide a personalised service.

Its latest development comes as the company has been recognised as being among America’s Most JUST Companies by Forbes and JUST Capital for the second consecutive year.

Hershey was named as the No. 34 company on the list, which celebrates US firms that have led on issues such as investing in employees, supporting communities and reducing impact to the environment. The Hershey joined the Just 100 last year at No. 86 and rises 52 spots this year.

Among its most notable achievements this year has been attaining a sustainability strategy goal, which it had set back in 2012 to source 100 percent certified and sustainability cocoa by 2020.

Commenting on its latest virtual platform, Dale Clark, senior director category management, The Hershey Company, said: “While this pandemic may have temporarily changed the way in which we meet with our retail partners, it has not changed the strong insights we have to offer our customers, which are especially crucial at this time. Our retail partners depend on this insight-driven data to help them stay ahead of the retail landscape, and this is another way we continue to adapt during this time to ensure that retailers are set up for lasting success.”

The HIN is an engaging virtual meeting experience that features the latest insights and solutions, broadcasted to retail partners in a unique and remote platform. Much like a television studio, the HIN serves as its own network, with a multi-camera studio and video switcher to ensure retail partners have a live experience unlike any other. The HIN provides leading insights, analysis and expertise that provide solutions to engage shoppers with live set merchandising and enhanced shopping experiences.

“We are going above and beyond to set up retail partners for success now and in the future,” said Clark. “It’s so important to adapt quickly to all the changes that continue to take place this year and we are proud to be a trusted partner for retailers in this evolving world, bringing them the latest insights and results with paypoint, centre store, and innovation to accelerate growth.”

Since 2006, Hershey has offered its Global Customer Insights Centre (GCIC) to retail partners in person in Hershey, Pa., and in 2018 announced its Mobile Customer Insights Centre (MCIC), an extension of the GCIC – a 53-foot, expandable tractor trailer – that takes Hershey’s shopper insights and expertise on the road to retail partners.

While these two experiences have enabled retail partners to receive the latest insights, thought leadership and retail solutions, the new HIN will offer these same insights and opportunities that retailers have come to rely on – but virtually. The HIN remotely connects retail partners across the country to the GCIC environments and subject matter experts, to help ensure they continue to have the latest shopper insights and total store expertise available.

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