HERSHEY, Pa. – The average U.S. consumer snacks 25 times a week, and when each snack-shopping trip begins, 76% of consumers seek online options before heading to stores, according to Experience and Convenience in a Shopper’s World, a new report by The Hershey Co. Moreover, 58% of these consumers use mobile devices to shop online while inside the physical store.
“Our expertise in understanding how and why consumers snack is shaping our innovations in products, packaging, services and shopper experiences to drive growth for our retail partners,” said Phil Stanley, chief customer officer for Hershey. “This piece dives into how snacks shoppers move between brick-and-mortar and digital retail along their path to purchase. Building a seamless shopping experience will be critical to driving growth in the new year.”
The report analyzes some of the biggest snacks retail trends from 2018 and dives into the ones that will set the stage for this year, including merchandising tactics and online checkout strategies.
- Click here to read CSP's takeaways from Hershey's Power of Search in a Shopper's World report from May 2018
Here are seven essential trends that will shape brick-and-mortar and digital retail shopping this year, according to Hershey …
1. Fuel and treats
While various factors determine snacking occasions—time of day, a person’s mood and whom they’re with—consumers usually seek one of two snack types: fuel (55%) or treats (45%), the report said.
Fuel snacks are healthier options that provide energy, such as nuts and seeds, trail mix, protein bars and meat snacks, while treat snacks include indulgent items such as chocolates, popcorn and gummies. Fuel snacks are mostly consumed early in the day, and as the evening approaches, consumers opt for treat snacks—small rewards that help them unwind, according to the report.
“Our research shows that people buy both treat and fuel snacks as they shop,” said Tony Mardegain, head of shopper insights for Hershey. “They then make the choice based on snacking occasion at their pantry."
2. Candy, mints and gum
Although consumers are snacking on a variety of treats now more than ever, the candy, mint and gum (CMG) category sits atop the snack food chain. CMG has a household penetration rate of 98.8%, making it the largest snack segment in the United States, according to Hershey. The category also has the second shortest purchase cycle of any snack type, at about 10 days.
“There’s no question that consumers have in recent years been demanding more healthy options,” James Freeman, assistant editor for The Wall Street Journal, told Hershey. “But that doesn’t mean they want all the existing options to change or disappear.”
3. Seamless shopping
Consumers who shop through all of a retailer’s commerce platforms—online, mobile and in-store—spend up to six times more than the average shopper, said Hershey. With smartphone penetration at 87% of U.S. homes, consumers essentially carry stores in their pockets. This provides retailers with the opportunity to engage consumers from all angles and widen their point of purchase. It is “essential to retail success,” the report said.
“There is still a shelf, there is still a basket and there is still a checkout,” said Doug Straton, chief digital commerce officer for Hershey. “But the difference is that all of those things can be in your phone.”
4. Digital visits
Online visits to retailers’ websites are preceding and exceeding brick-and-mortar visits, the report said. For every $5 that a consumer spends, at least $1 is credited to a digital visit, according to Hershey. This is due to the fact that as people shop in stores, they are often looking at their phones for price comparisons or product reviews.
“In modern retail, we know that digital is the first trip,” said Straton. “So, if you don’t merchandise the digital shelf correctly, people may choose not to shop with you in the digital or the physical store.”
5. Visual merchandising
Effective in-store merchandising may translate to online engagement, because the digital and physical shopping experiences reflect each other, the report said. Retailers should offer in-store visuals that efficiently communicate what each product is, such as package designs that appear on mobile phones and large posters that can be seen from 30 feet away. And because online shoppers often buy in bulk, retailers may benefit from using large-quantity, e-commerce-optimized pack sizes on their digital shelves, the report said.
6. Impulse purchases
The average U.S. shopper spends about $5,400 a year on unplanned purchases, according to Hershey. With the growth of online shopping, retailers face an opportunity to capture consumers’ impulsivity both digitally and in stores. This can be accomplished through turning unplanned in-store purchases to planned purchases online.
Hershey uses the example of a loyalty member who buys a chocolate bar in person and orders items for home delivery a week later through the same retailer. At the virtual checkout, the retailer may offer a chocolate bar as a suggested purchase—based off the consumer’s purchase history—and with one click, the sugary treat is added to the shopping list.
7. Checkout strategies
As the last stop of a shopping experience, the checkout has massive implications for customer satisfaction and loyalty. Hershey suggests retailers offer convenience, engaging merchandising and varied product assortments at the checkout, because consumers prefer an array of snacking choices in this area; however, most customers opt for treats—53% of shoppers seek an indulgent treat at checkout, and checkout sales of these items are eight times higher than those of healthier options, according to Hershey.