With great change comes great experimentation, and that’s what some gum and candy makers across the country have been doing since the pandemic began.
On the one hand, they recognized that impulse buying is changing. For years, they have known that the traditional front-store configuration is threatened, both by online shopping and self-service payment lines. And it’s not that people skipped snacking during the pandemic – far from it. Cookies and ice cream, which can be eaten in front of a TV screen or at a family game night, are doing very well. Mars Wrigley and Hershey noted an increase in bulk chewing gum purchases among people playing video games. Fruit gum and chewing gum also did good last year. Perhaps, Nolen risks it, it’s because parents used the material to keep Zoom addicted kids awake in online lessons, which he calls “mouth entertainment.”
Snack makers have also turned to digital and advertising tricks to encourage impulse buying. Food brands increased their digital advertising during the pandemic and are now running ads on grocery store websites, as well as delivery services like Instacart.
Manufacturers and retailers are using data collected on shoppers’ past purchases and dietary preferences to offer complementary products, such as marshmallows and chocolate bars to accompany graham crackers. S’mores someone? Some have paid for promotions that, for example, tell shoppers that they’re only a few dollars away from free shipping – would they like to add a bag of crisps or a pack of chewing gum?
“It becomes really important to make sure that we remind people of these products as they navigate their shopping experience, both online and in-store,” said Shaf Lalani, executive vice president of strategic demand. at Mars Wrigley, which produces gum and mint brands like Orbit, Extra, Altoids, Lifesavers and Hubba Bubba. In February, the company announced an experiment with a ShopRite in Monroe, New York: it dropped a robot named Smiley on the grocery store, which sang, danced, and gave people M&M, Skittles, and packs of chewing. -gum Extra while they were buying. The goal: to make every moment in a grocery store a moment of “impulse buying”.
Hershey experiences an Add Hershey button at the end of the ordering experience. He’s also working with other manufacturers to, for example, find easy, frictionless ways to add a quick snack to curb deliveries. Company data shows that even if customers order their groceries for curbside pickup, 50% will go into the store anyway, and 70% of those people will grab at least one unplanned item.
There’s one event that promises to trap a lot of Americans in grocery stores and drugstores, and give them plenty of time to consider a candy bar: vaccine deployment. People vaccinated against Covid-19 are usually asked to stay 10 to 15 minutes to make sure they don’t have an adverse reaction. For manufacturers of impulse-buying products, it’s time and friction – “built-in dwell time for them to walk around the store and buy an impulse item,” says Nolen. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate their personal end of the pandemic with a packet of mints or Twizzler? And here’s the best part: most people have to do it twice.
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