Hershey unveils latest series at Sweets & Snacks, including augmented reality initiative

The Hershey Company used this year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo event to showcase a strong portfolio of products, as well as roll-out its augmented reality initiative targeting its Reese’s Cups ranges, showing how retailers can make optimum use of merchandise placement, reports Neill Barston.

Confectionery Production spoke to the Pennsylvania firm at this year’s event at Indianapolis between 14-16 May, (watch our exclusive video review of the event featuring the business here), in which it unveiled a number of new additions to its ranges including with KitKat, Ice Breakers, One Bars, Fulfil and Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels (see our separate full review in our magazine).

As the company explained, its AR system (pictured below) works on the basis of generating an image of what the product would like in a specific location. IR tracks the merchandise and its in-store location to gather insights on how placement impacts sales and the shopping experience.

Among the firm’s latest releases this year was its Reese’s Caramel Big Cup, KitKat Pink Lemonade, KitKat Vanilla, Hershey’s Crunchy Waffle Cone Bars, Ice Breakers Sparkling Mints Pineapple Mango Seltzer Flavour, Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels Parmesan Garlic Flavour, SkinnyPop Cheddar Jalapeño

Additionally, Reese’s, known for its  combination of chocolate and peanut butter, is introducing the ultimate newcomer just in time for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024: Reese’s Medals. The first-ever seasonal shape for summer is available now for a limited time only and commemorates The Hershey Company’s ongoing partnership with Team USA.

Speaking to our title at Sweets & Snacks, Momin Bhatti, associate manager, corporate communications, said: “We’re very excited to be here in beautiful Indianapolis, showcasing our latest products and retail strategies, as well as merchandising strategies, and our capabilities with customers and partners.

“We have some incredible products here, and it’s there’s so much excitement here, which you can feel from walking the floor and see the positive energy, which has been incredible.

“For our augmented reality, we are using technology that will be a real gamechanger, and very transformative. Our retail team members can show retailers right then and there what a product merchandising unit will look like, using augmented reality. With image recognition, which pairs very well with augmented reality, our team members can take pictures, and with those data driven insights, we can see how the units there are performing.”

Category growth continues
As the company noted, its foodservice segment demand continues to grow. The company’s research demonstrates that 52% of consumers order from a foodservice website for pickup or takeout at least once a month, and 70% of consumers frequent fast-food restaurants at least once a month for delivery or pickup. Hershey recommends retailers grow revenue streams by featuring foodservice at the store’s front end to enhance customer engagement and offering meal bundles (entrée, beverage, snack or dessert) to provide convenience, quality and value.

Furthermore, the company’s research also found that  queuing and merchandising around assisted lanes can drive more units than self-checkout; however, self-checkouts enable retailers to redeploy labor from the front end to better serve shoppers in other parts of the store. The company noted that proper merchandising strategies at self checkouts were another factor that influenced shopper experiences.

Significantly, the company noted, that the trend of the “second basket,” where shoppers purchase more items in-store when picking up their online orders, increased during the pandemic and will likely grow. Retailers can capitalise on these unplanned purchases by:

Concluding on the company’s latest releases, Chuck Raup, president, US confectionery, said: “We’re excited to expand Reese’s, the #1 CMG brand, to our first summer shape with Reese’s Medals,

“It follows our hugely successful launch of Reese’s Caramel Big Cup, currently the #1 innovation in CMG. The gooey layer of caramel directly responds to consumers’ desires, offering them a delightful twist on the classic Reese’s chocolate and peanut butter combination while opening new avenues for category growth.”



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