It’s no secret that comfort clothing took priority when the pandemic hit. Hershey’s noticed a similar pattern with comfort food.
The company saw sales of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate six-packs spike online and in-stores well ahead of Memorial Day, which is typically when summer campouts and cookoffs commence. Chief Growth Officer Kristen Riggs noted, “It was the biggest s’mores season we’ve ever had.” Indeed, families succumbed to the sweet indulgence as a way to break up the boredom brought on by the pandemic. Besides the fact that s’mores are easy and affordable to make, a classic family favorite, and a delicious reminder of better days, another reason for the s’mores surge may also stem from social media. Indeed, snack and confectionary brands continue to lead with spend on seasonal campaigns and influencer marketing, which sent The Hershey Company to the top of Gartner’s Digital IQ Index: Food & Beverages.
Now, as a festive lineup of holidays awaits consumers, it’s likely that the company will see even more chocolate sales. That said, it’s not all milk and sugar. The pandemic presented unique challenges to several brands, Hershey’s included, in that shoppers are spending less time in grocery stores or opting for digital grocery delivery, where it can be easier to slice away at a cart’s contents as the total price is reflected in live time. This could translate into less opportunities to notice a new, seasonal candy display at the store and less chances of making an impulse buy at the cash register.
As such, the company is making an effort to concoct smarter online marketing strategies, like placing an ad for chocolate syrup near the ice cream assortment or even placing candy or baking supplies near the seasonal decor section of a retailer’s app or site. It’s also lining the shelves, both digital and physical, with seasonal treats earlier as consumers continue to lean into holidays as a diversion from real life.