Looking ahead, as more people receive the vaccine and consumer optimism improves, The Hershey Company's consumer insights indicate people are excited to safely gather together once again. This means that people are once again investing in their homes and outdoor spaces, driving s’mores participation even further. In fact, this summer:

  • 80% of households with children plan to make s’mores
  • 60% of all consumers plan to make s’mores
  • 26% of consumers will make s'mores more frequently than last summer

Successfully executing across three pillars led to a 30 percent growth in Hershey’s Milk Chocolate six-packs last summer, according to Hershey. And while people this year are looking to widen their s’mores circles with extended family and friends, doing so outdoors this summer is still a priority. With these insights in mind, Hershey’s is doubling down to be part of even more s’mores moments this year.

To account for and meet this increase in demand, Hershey started to build its inventory earlier this year to ensure a steady supply. Knowing people were ready to gather around the fire pit with warmer weather returning, the company started s’mores seasonal support four weeks earlier this year with a fully integrated media strategy.

Further, at the Sweets & Snacks Expo, Hershey presented a host of insights and innovations. Digital commerce, multiple fulfillment and checkout options in-store are giving shoppers more options than ever before. These options, combined with heightened expectations for safety and convenience –accelerated by the pandemic – are forcing retailers to adapt faster than ever. 

“What we found, even before the pandemic, was that shoppers expect a connected experience, no matter where they are purchasing their items,” says Dave Nolen, vice president of category management and shopper insights, The Hershey Company. “Even as mission-driven trips and click-and-collect orders are increasing, we’re finding that 55-70% of shoppers purchase additional items, beyond their in-store pickup order. Whether people are shopping online or in-store, there’s a strong opportunity to get them to consider purchasing something that wasn’t on their initial shopping list.”

While retailers are addressing the needs for convenience and efficiency with reimagined front ends, Hershey sees continued growth opportunity for retailers in front-end redesign that include evolving pay points, queueing strategies and cashier-less checkout. Changes in these areas are important to meeting consumer expectations, while also helping create engagement and drive bigger baskets.

Research from Hershey, which will be officially released later this summer, found that 3 out of 4 consumers shop both online and offline, with 1 in 3 in-store purchases originating from something the shopper found online. Furthermore, 1 in 4 online purchases originate from an in-store visit.

“While the pandemic has certainly placed more emphasis on online shopping during the past year, it has also reinvigorated people’s excitement about purchasing items in-store,” says Nolen. “Although online shopping will continue to be a top way people shop moving forward and stores will continue to offer curbside orders, connected, consumer-facing platforms instore and online are the experiential game changer.”