Snacks & Candy

Bringing Innovation to the Mid-Morning Occasion

Photograph: Shutterstock

There’s no doubt that innovation brings news and excitement to snacking categories. Continual innovation is necessary as consumers wade through a variety of options according to the time of day and their lifestyle. Innovation in snack cakes, one of c-stores’ mid-morning options, had been lacking in significant innovation until recently.

While bakery snacks historically represent the third largest snacking category at the c-store, and the category continues to grow, its pace has slowed. This stalled growth coincided with a sharp decline in 2019 innovation sales as the category lacked disruptive innovation. In fact, out of the top 15 items in snack cakes, 14 have been consistent since 2016, leaving growth from innovation ranging anywhere between 4-6% of total sales per year.[1]

Despite reduced innovation, bakery snacks continue expanding at the expense of ready-to-eat yogurt and cold cereal, as the growth favors snacks with little to no prep and portability. The right innovation in snack cakes could bring excitement and spark new growth in the category.

Mid-morning basket builder

What makes snack cakes a candidate for new growth?

Snack cakes are almost always purchased with another item, making them the ultimate mid-morning basket builder. Most frequently paired with foodservice items and beverages, Explorer Research shares over half of mid-morning consumers (9:00 am – noon) are browsing in-store to find a match for their coffee. And at least 50% of snack cake and nutrition bar consumers are open to trying new brands.[2]

Because of this browsing behavior and willingness to try new brands, snack cakes are an excellent basket builder. They can help build the morning snack occasion with placement both within the bakery snacks aisle and near self-serve beverages (fountain and coffee).

Reese’s for morning

During mid-morning, people transition from better-for-you products like yogurt and nutrition bars to more indulgent treats. This is evident in the wide variety of products that use indulgence to dial up appeal.

The Hershey Company sees the role of indulgence continuing to change across the morning daypart with mid-morning becoming even more relevant for indulgent items. New Reese’s Snack Cakes entered the set less than a year ago and continue to maintain a top five category velocity.

The morning occasion is ripe for disruption. As the No. 1 confection brand in c-store, Reese’s has brought significant innovation to the category with snack cakes and looks forward to even wider availability 2021.





Understanding shopper insights and finding opportunities for growth can be overwhelming, which is why
Hershey’s Category Insights Management Team developedHershey Solutions for small format retailers. The online portal is a one-step resource for data, merchandising tools, new product information and retailer rewards designed to help c-stores achieve category success.

Visit to discover the latest product releases, download optimized planograms, tap into channel insights and order new products.

This post is sponsored by The Hershey Company


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