Hersheys Innovates To Keep Sales

The Lempert Report
October 19, 2017

But the innovation is not in candy.

Most of the brands that are being sold at checkout have a problem. A big problem. Not only are some stores setting up candy free check stands, others are pushing us to use self-checkout lanes while click & collect or delivery keeps growing. What’s a candy company to do?  

Join the trend not fight it. Brian Kavanagh, senior director of retail evolution for Hershey says that purchases used to be all made at the main cash register, but now 60 percent are done at self-checkouts and another 10-15 percent are done through mobile devices and his problem?  While most online shopping today starts with search, people tend not to intentionally search for candy. 

So Hershey is getting into the virtual reality biz. They just started doing a test at its innovation center with an online retailer, which they decline to name.  People put on the HTC Vive VR headset and see different brands and product categories in everyday environments like a living room — based on the idea that shopping can be done anywhere. 

When viewers click on a brand or a product category, they see snack options like a bottled tea and a Reese’s peanut butter cup. 

Kavanagh envisions the possibility of a retailer’s shopping app giving users the option of shopping through a virtual experience. The user could then put on VR goggles, walk around a fake retail environment and shop — increasing the chances of them stumbling on products like Hershey candy that they wouldn’t have intentionally searched for. 

Much the way we envisioned using Second Life years ago. It didn’t work then, and frankly I find it doubtful that we will see shoppers putting on goggles and shopping in a virtual store wherever they may be. As technology gets better and devices like Alexa and OK Google become more pervasive ordering through these devices make more sense along with auto replenishment from smart cupboards and refrigerators. 

Maybe Hershey needs to take another look at their offerings and make those more relevant.