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Retail Evolution

Driving Retail Solutions—Literally—Introducing our Mobile Customer Insights Center

Kate Silver

The tastiest truck in the world is hitting the streets this month, kicking off a nationwide tour of insights, innovation—and snacks. Named the Mobile Customer Insights Center (MCIC), the 53-foot, expandable tractor trailer looks, from the outside, like a rolling Hershey's bar, punctuated with packages of Kit Kat, S’mores, Reese’sKisses and Twizzlers. Inside however, it resembles a convenience store, with shelves upon shelves of candy, mints, gum, chips and a check-out area.


The MCIC will make its debut on Sept. 19 in Hershey, Pa., and begin its journey traveling across the nation to retailers of all sizes. During each stop, Hershey will share its game-changing shopper insights linked to category and customer solutions—another sweet spot for the company. “We’re a snacking powerhouse with a deep understanding of the snack shopper. The Hershey team uses these insights to develop category-first solutions that drive profitable growth for ourselves and our retailer partners,” says Larry Thomas, senior manager, Global Customer Insights Center (GCIC) at The Hershey Company.


While this mobile experience might be a new endeavor for Hershey, the company is no stranger to bringing its insights to customers. For more than a decade, Hershey has invited retail partners to its Pennsylvania headquarters to spend time at the GCIC, a place where they meet with subject-matter experts for educational sessions on shopper behavior, methods for boosting sales, the evolving future of retail, online sales and more.


While these visits provide incredible value to customers, not everyone can make the two-day time commitment, so Hershey has been limited by the number of customers able to experience this hands-on environment. Insert the MCIC – a roving tractor trailer that crosses the country, delivering these valuable insights directly to retailer and convenience store leaders’ front doors! By expanding these offerings, Hershey is opening its trailer doors to a secret place that only a fraction of American retailers have seen before.


Dale Clark, Senior Director, Category Management – Small & Large Format with The Hershey Company, says “The MCIC is a way for Hershey to share knowledge, far and wide, with retail store leaders big and small. The biggest thing for us is bringing our insights and solutions to the customer,” says Clark. “We’re coming directly to their parking lot – making it incredibly easy to collaborate with key decision makers at our retail partners who can benefit most from what the MCIC has to offer.”


With the MCIC, each retailer will have an experiential opportunity to discuss strategies and tactics with a team of category experts. During the scheduled meetings, they can delve into shelf and product layouts, pay point tactics, store reinvention, merchandising queue lines, insights-driven sales and more. The team at Hershey studies shopper behavior and can share, for example, insights on when customers like to purchase salty vs. sweet snacks; which demographics purchase the most candy; how to drive higher sales by simply rearranging a few key items, and more. At the MCIC, the insights shared don’t just revolve around Hershey products, they include the entire consumables category – making the experience as valuable as possible for customers.


The MCIC will be on the road through 2019, making stops in Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco and smaller cities and towns in between. According to Clark, the MCIC truck isn’t the only thing that’s driving. “We are going to bring solutions that drive business.”