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                                                                         Mid-November 2015
Hershey Gains Shopper Insights from ‘Touch Point’ System

By Pat Lenius

With the loyalty of shoppers more fragmented than ever, it is important to learn what makes them happy so they return to the store. To impress those shoppers, The Hershey Company acts on insights collected from its Touch Point Evaluation Program.

The goal of the program is to help the retailer deliver the right message to the right shopper for the right need via the right medium at the right time to get the buy, according to Michael Klei, Senior Manager, Shopper Engagement, at The Hershey Company.

Here is how the program works: A variety of pre-store and in-store touch point ideas are pre-tested as part of the process. Pre-store touch points include TV and online ads, social media, circulars, and mobile and paper coupons. In-store touch points include mobile coupons, floor and store displays, end caps and in-store signage.

Touch points influence the shopper at every step, noted Robin Alex, Senior Manager, Shopper Insights at Hershey. “We incorporate the voice of the shopper in our approach,” Alex said.

It’s not just about who is buying the candy. Household penetration of confection is 97%. The retailer wants to know more about the shoppers visiting his store, he said.

Alex and Klei discussed Hershey’s shopper-centric program recently in Minneapolis at the 2015 Shopper Marketing Conference and Expo hosted by the Path to Purchase Institute.

Hershey looked at the overall shopping trip mission and the occasion-based mission, Alex reported. The company conducted segmentation studies and examined class of trade, retailers, confections, snacks.

“That knowledge base drives the shopper marketing program,” he asserted. “We incorporate the voice of the shopper, starting with insights and ending with the shopper’s voice in the program. It’s very strategic. We ask shoppers what they think about different shopper marketing programs by the retailer.” This includes end cap displays, coupons, circulars, digital ads, in-store signage.

Alex said Hershey does a “robust quantitative study” of the retailer’s shopper, not limited to just the confection shopper. “We develop multiple concepts and test. It usually takes three to four months for this type of study, but start to finish for us is three weeks.”

The idea is to link consumer emotion with every point that touches the shopper, Klei added.

The executives shared some promotion ideas that were based on shopper insights. One promotion addressed the shopper’s hunger pang after work, when he or she craves something sweet. A grocery aisle end cap suggests shoppers “Stock the Perfect Pantry” and offers a variety of products at different price points: Reese’s spreads, Reese’s Minis in an 8-oz. pouch, a 12-oz. bag of Reese’s Miniatures, a Reese’s Pieces 10.5-oz. pouch and Reese’s Puff cereal.  A sign on the end cap invites shoppers to buy any three products for $10. 

During the week, especially from Tuesday through Thursday, it’s hard to enjoy family moments, Alex said. “Everyone is on a device. People are having dinner in different rooms.”

A possible solution is a program that invites the shopper to “Make It a Mine & Yours Night” with an end cap to be positioned in the DVD aisle or across from the candy aisle. This end cap offers movies and candy that the whole family can enjoy. In addition to various multi-packs of Hershey, Reese’s and Kit Kat candies, a selection of DVDs is displayed. A sign informs shoppers they can buy any one bag of Hershey’s candy and any one DVD on the display for $12.

A third promotion featured Kit Kat candy bars and encouraged shoppers to share a Kit Kat at break time. The end cap that leads into the candy aisle of the store carries Kit Kat standard bars, 11-oz. bags of Kit Kat Miniatures and 8-oz. pouches of Kit Kat Minis. Shoppers are rewarded with a free standard size Kit Kat bar when they buy any two products from the end cap.

The effectiveness of these end cap displays is measured for overall appeal and for their impact on the shopper’s attitude toward the retailer. The shopper is asked if the display improved his or her shopping experience at this retailer.

Not every idea is a winner, Alex admitted, adding that Hershey’s touch point system improves the brand marketer’s chance of identifying the right winners. It can make a really awesome concept work even better.

“We can also help the retailer’s buying team win space in the store,” Klei said. After Hershey lost a program it had done with a retailer for years, it was able to regain the space after sharing its research on shoppers’ reactions.

Alex said retail buyers can change – sometimes as often as every year – but with a tool like Hershey’s touch points system, it does not matter who the buyer is. The brand marketer can
bring its knowledge and share historical benchmarks with the new buyer who can use the shopper insights to justify space.

“We have been through 10 waves of this program and we are getting better benchmarks,” Klei reported. “We are raising the bar on ourselves. We want to give retailers better insights on their shoppers.”

The program, first deployed eighteen months ago, allows teams to develop best-in-class practices for each touch point, for the retailer, for the brand or category and for the shopper marketing agencies, he summed up.