Hershey delivers category insights directly to retailers via tractor trailer

Discussion
Source: The Hershey Company
Sep 25, 2018

The Hershey Company is rolling out a tractor trailer to bring its insights directly to retail locations.

The 53-foot, expandable Mobile Customer Insights Center (MCIC) tractor trailer is an extension of Hershey’s Global Customer Insights Center (GCIC) that first opened in 2006 at the company’s headquarters in Hershey, PA. The snack manufacturer said retail partners have come to its headquarters to spend time at the GCIC, but not everyone can make the two-day commitment.

The trailer on the outside looks like “a rolling Hershey’s bar, punctuated with packages of Kit Kat, S’mores, Reese’s, Kisses and Twizzlers,” according to a blog entry. Inside, it resembles a convenience store, with shelves upon shelves of candy, mints, gum, chips and a check-out area.

As a mini-version of the GCIC, the MCIC 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 is designed to an “experiential opportunity” for Hershey’s retail partners and the ability to discuss strategies and tactics with a team of category experts from the manufacturer. During the scheduled meetings, they can delve into shelf and product layouts, pay point tactics, store reinvention, merchandising queue lines, insights-driven sales and other topics. Insights may include when customers like to purchase salty vs. sweet snacks; which demographics purchase the most candy; and how to drive higher sales by simply rearranging a few key items. Hershey says the insights address the entire consumables category.

“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, Hershey’s chief sales officer, in a statement.

The truck will be making stops in Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, and smaller cities and towns in-between. Two dedicated MCIC subject-matter experts will be at all MCIC stops and work directly with retailers to implement the latest and most productive shopper and category strategies. More than 25 visits are planned by the end of the year.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will Hershey’s roving insights trailer result in more effective category management execution at the retailers it visits? What do you see as the pros and cons to the MCIC project for Hershey?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"I like the mobile, experiential idea, but why not take it to a trade show or conference where most of the retailers attend?"
"...a Hershey’s insights lead [told me that] they continued to work toward becoming whole store advisers to their retail partners. I think this is a good example of that."
"Hershey’s trailer grabs attention. It is a great way to get their retail partners to give them the time to collaborate and plan their approach to the market/consumers."

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9 Comments on "Hershey delivers category insights directly to retailers via tractor trailer"


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Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

Great hype – minimal impact beyond what they are already bringing to the game.

Charles Dimov
Guest

More than anything else, Hershey’s trailer grabs attention. It is a great way to get their retail partners to give them the time to collaborate and plan their approach to the market/consumers. It is hard to ignore a huge Hershey’s trailer parked in you HQ parking lot. It also conveys the right message to the retail partners; that Hershey’s will do what it takes to make the business work well.
The cons are costs of operating this. I recall at one of my events like this, one partner quipped about how much my firm must have spent for “all of this.” The importance will be to convey the critical nature of the discussions and meetings. Making sure the retailer feels a clear sense of the concrete value they get from the meetings.

Chris Petersen, PhD.
Guest

The Hershey trailer seems more like a rolling billboard than an “experiential opportunity” for retailers. What will the trailer have inside that the Hershey team can’t bring to the retailer meetings already taking place Never say never if this leads to tangible change that produces measurable results. However 25 visits for the year will hardly make a dent. It seems like a very expensive model to reach a select few.

Anne Howe
Guest

I like the mobile, experiential idea, but why not take it to a trade show or conference where most of the retailers attend?

Andrew Blatherwick
BrainTrust

It’s great to see a national brand investing in traditional retail in this way. Sharing their experience and knowledge to grow sales will certainly bring them closer to their retail partners and if they get results it will be a success. Retailers do need to ensure that they are not just getting the Hershey hard sell at the expense of other brands. That is always the fear of these things.

For many retailers, obtaining this sort of insight into their own business can only be achieved by category management solutions that produce the broader picture encompassing all brands. It is difficult to give advice without the detailed individual store sales and this data may not be available to the Hershey team. However, it is a positive initiative and Hershey should be congratulated for that.

Jennifer McDermott
Guest

Fun idea, but more about PR and creating feel-good moments with trade partners than it is about better insights/more accessibility.

Dave Wendland
BrainTrust

This is a great example of thinking outside the box and focusing on consumer insights. My belief is that retailers will appreciate the over-the-road approach that Hershey is taking and respond favorably.

The pros (taking it to their retailer doorsteps, gaining visibility and hype in the process, and truly demonstrating a commitment to staying in touch) will far outweigh any cons (others may copy the approach, retailers may not implement Hershey’s ideas as suggested, and it’s a large investment). Keep on truckin’ Hershey!

Gib Bassett
BrainTrust

I appreciate what the other commenters say so far. What I would add is that the overall state of insights driven retail/supplier collaboration has been poor for many years (overall, with some exceptions), and so any new idea to further move the needle is a good one. Although this center has been around since 2006, I had lunch at NRF a few years ago with a Hershey’s insights lead who said they continued to work toward becoming whole store advisers to their retail partners. I think this is a good example of that.

Zel Bianco
BrainTrust

Agree with many of the comments but you will never please everyone with this type of tactic. There will be those that say “why are they spending money like this? I’d rather they provide lower costs to me”.

It is true that this is a good way to get attention, which is what a well thought out billboard is supposed to do. It does allow the Hershey team to get awareness for what they doing. What matters is what the retailer hears and sees on the inside of the trailer. Although the Hershey team may not be able to solve every problem on the spot, I don’t think that would be reasonable for realistic for retailers to expect.

If the time spent is perceived as productive and valuable, it will lead to a second and more detailed engagement that will likely take place in a more traditional place. This opens the door and for that, I applaud Hershey for a creative initiative that is not the same old, same old.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I like the mobile, experiential idea, but why not take it to a trade show or conference where most of the retailers attend?"
"...a Hershey’s insights lead [told me that] they continued to work toward becoming whole store advisers to their retail partners. I think this is a good example of that."
"Hershey’s trailer grabs attention. It is a great way to get their retail partners to give them the time to collaborate and plan their approach to the market/consumers."

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