Hershey Tests at Walmart
Manufacturer wins Halloween while seeking to break out of the candy aisle – permanently
Hershey Co. was confectionery king at Walmart for the 2017 Halloween season, thanks to one of the many tests the candy maker has been running at the mass merchant.
The manufacturer took the spotlight from the previous year’s champion – competitor Mars Inc. and its “booing” friends – by trialing new glow-in-the-dark packaging exclusively at Walmart.
A bold circular cover promoted the assortment pack, which included the manufacturer’s top three sellers: Reese’s, Hershey’s and Kit Kat. Supporting digital activity spanned a Walmart.com home page carousel ad and seasonal brand showcase (powered by Triad Retail Media) as well as co-op display ads running on Walmart.com (including expandable versions) and websites such as Dictionary.com.
Support from Hershey was sparse but did include a Pinterest pin.
“We’re not screaming it from the rooftops, but we’ll put it out there and watch the data,” Hershey chief sales officer Rob Gehring told Adweek.
The Hershey showcase was padded with relevant content, delivering “ghoulish recipes” and e-commerce links to Hershey SKUs at the mass merchant – which spanned a multitude of other exclusive assortment packs in addition to the glow-in-the-dark candies.
Determining how to mix its candies and where to distribute them is one of Hershey’s bigger challenges, vice president and general manager of brand commercialization Kristen Riggs told Adweek. Generally, “category killers” like Walmart and Target get the larger bags, while retailers like Dollar General get the smaller, lower-priced varieties. The mixes also vary by region.
Though Hershey didn’t trumpet the glow-in-the-dark packaging in stores via its large pallet trains topped by a variety of tall, seasonal headers, the manufacturer nevertheless commanded Action Alley in multiple locations visited by the Institute. The displays were heavy on the orange and purple, and they were augmented with standees, inflatables and other themed props.
In additional fall-themed activity, a pallet side panel directed shoppers to the Reese’s Pinterest account for a peanut butter cookie cups recipe.
Hershey also is involved in other sweet endeavors with Walmart as it seeks a permanent presence beyond the candy aisle. The manufacturer has secured prime positioning on top of the retailer’s gift card kiosk with exclusive, giant-sized “appreciation” and “greeting card” bars from Hershey’s and Reese’s. A Walmart.com showcase supports.
Earlier last year, a celebration endcap full of eye-catching flare spotted in at least one store supported the manufacturer’s efforts to expand into the party aisle.
Hershey also recently made a significant investment by deploying a head-turning digital endcap hawking large-sized bags of product with movement, color and illumination in Action Alley. Spotted in at least one store, the digital signage on the endcap is continually updated and has tied in to seasons such as football and holiday baking.
The merchandising and digital efforts are especially important for the confectionery maker as the growth of e-commerce and the rising popularity of both healthier checkout offerings as well as self-checkouts that eschew merchandising space altogether (and on the horizon, stores that eschew checkout altogether) threaten impulse purchases that are crucial to candy sales.
The moves follow another merchandising effort conducted at Walmart that aligns with Hershey’s sustainability goals. Last holiday, the manufacturer tested redesigned display-ready cases that use 31% less corrugate at the mass merchant, and has since rolled them out nationally as part of its pledge to minimize the environmental impact of its operations.
The new packaging also is simpler for retailers to handle. According to reports, the one-piece design eschews cover packaging, no longer requires store employees to use knives to open and saves significant setup time. It also eliminates the center divide for better presentation and boasts an enhanced print and digital design.