Hershey Rolls Out Mobile Customer Insights Center     

The Hershey Company will deliver consumer insights to its retail partners with a new 53-foot expandable Mobile Customer Insights Center (MCIC) tractor trailer. The MCIC will take Hershey’s insights and snacks category expertise directly to its retail partners across the country.

The trailer includes four expandable panels and opens into a 22 x 53-foot collaborative work space that can seat up to 15 people. The MCIC provides an experiential opportunity for customers and the ability to discuss strategies and results with a team of subject-matter experts. Retail customers who visit the truck can expect to leave with insights and turnkey solutions that can be directly applied to their stores. Concepts include strategies for merchandising optimization and store layouts, queues, checkout counters, food service, product innovation and shopper marketing as well as how to successfully work across all shopping channels – from bricks to clicks and everywhere in between.

The MCIC is an extension of Hershey’s Global Customer Insights Center (GCIC), based in Hershey, Pa., that has been serving retail partners since 2006.

“The retail landscape is shifting at an unprecedented rate. To stay ahead, today’s retailers need a new playbook and that’s exactly what we’re bringing to their front door,” said Phil Stanley, Chief Sales Officer for Hershey. “The MCIC is an important next step in our insight-driven journey to ensure Hershey provides our retail partners the most tailored, strategic insights we have to offer. And since we’re bringing the MCIC right to our customers, we’re able to set even more of our retail customers up for success.”

The MCIC will be making stops in Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, and numerous cities in-between. There are 25 visits planned before year end. Hershey has two dedicated MCIC subject-matter experts who will be at all MCIC stops and work directly with retailers to implement the latest and most productive shopper and category strategies.

Shoppers Loyal to ‘Transparent’ Products

Grocery shoppers exhibit loyalty to those food products that willingly provide more information about ingredients and how they are made, says a new report from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Label Insight.
The report found that shoppers increasingly demand transparency and a closer connection to their food. In fact, 75 percent are more likely to switch to a brand that provides more in-depth product information, beyond what’s provided on the physical label. When shoppers were asked the same question in 2016 in a similar study by Label Insight, just 39 percent agreed they would switch brands.

In the report, 86 percent of shoppers agreed that if food manufacturers or retailers provided access to complete and easy to understand definitions for all the ingredients, it would result in more trust. Nearly as many shoppers (80 percent) said that they are more likely to be loyal to a brand that provides more in-depth information, beyond what is provided on the physical label. More than half of shoppers (54 percent) are even willing to pay more for a product that has additional product information.

“The new shopper mindset requires brand owners to think about their products well beyond the traditional label and respect a more digitally-minded consumer,” FMI Vice President, Industry Relations, Doug Baker noted. “The study offers several considerations for how to make the best use of these findings, but overall, they require companies to recognize and communicate the importance of transparency and perform a thorough review of their unique consumer audiences and commerce channels.”

The research was based on an online survey of a random sample of 2,022 U.S. grocery shoppers 18 years of age or older.

Retailer Brands Focus on Customer Experience, Outpace Competitors

U.S. retailer brands that focus on customer experience are fast outpacing those who still think retailing is only about the basics of location, selection and value, according to the fourth annual Prophet Brand Relevance Index (BRI).

The 2018 index shows that retail brands Apple #1, Amazon #2 and Costco #26 ranked the highest among retailers. All are putting customer experience front and center. Costco made an investment in the customer experience by pushing into the online channel via a partnership with Instacart.

“As the convergence of offline and online shopping accelerates, it’s clear that for today’s consumers, their preferences for the retailers they shop doesn’t just come from what they buy, but more and more its driven by how they buy it,” said Peter Dixon, Chief Creative Officer at Prophet.

Brands of supermarkets, food products and beverages did not rank highly. Only four grocery brands ranked under 100: Trader Joe’s (41), Aldi (54), Kroger (62) and Whole Foods (72). Three food products scored under 100: Ben and Jerry’s (37), Hershey’s (43) and Betty Crocker (73). Three beverage brands ranked under 100: Folgers (38), Maxwell House (83) and Coca Cola (86).

Prophet surveyed 47,845 consumers across the U.S., UK, Germany and China.

Consumers ‘Grossed Out’ over GMOs: Research

Consumers remain skeptical of GMOs in food, even to the point of being “grossed out” by the idea of genetically modified organisms, says a new study from Washington University in St. Louis.

“In some contexts, people view nature and naturalness as sacred and genetically engineered food as a violation of naturalness,” the authors wrote.

A key aim of the research team’s work was to expose the gap between advocates of genetically engineered foods and opponents. “When we’re communicating with people about this technology, to have a successful conversation, we have to realize that,” said Sydney Scott, the lead author.

Enhanced Collaboration at GMDC MarketPlace

The GMDC MarketPlace at the Global Market Development Center (GMDC) Health Beauty Wellness conference recently in Orlando was enhanced by a collaboration with ReporiTrak, a provider of compliance, food safety and risk management for the retail supply chain.

The conference connected retail and wholesale merchandising professionals with existing and new trade partners for both strategic and tactical meetings. Both buyers and suppliers benefited from the deepened software and trading partner relationships that GMDC MarketPlace delivers.

“As a retail-owned association, fueled by a strategic partnership with ReposiTrak, it is our mission to amplify and create a seamless, year-round connection for buyers to suppliers and their products.  Buyers can search the GMDC MarketPlace anytime and discover new products, line extensions and catch up on the latest trends. We see the MarketPlace becoming an indispensable tool for our members to expand assortments to meet the evolving tastes of consumers.”


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                                                                         Early October 2018
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