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Snacks Retail Expertise

How Consumer Insights Shape Hershey’s Halloween Planning Years in Advance

By collecting insights year-round, Hershey is continually working to understand how consumers are celebrating Halloween. For the company’s biggest holiday of the year, the planning never stops.
Martin Moore & Alyssa Smith-D’Cruz
Martin Moore, Senior Manager, Consumer Intelligence & Alyssa Smith-D'Cruz, Senior Marketing Manager, Halloween

Key Takeaways:

    • Hershey is preparing for its biggest Halloween ever.
    • Guided by consumer insights, we’re excited to offer new products and assortments this year, featuring our top brands such as Reese’s, Hershey and KIT KAT.
    • We love that when consumers think of Halloween, they think of Hershey—and we’re honored to be a part of those moments of goodness.

October 20, 2023

At Hershey, we have Halloween on the brain 24/7. Before last year’s Halloween ended, we were already planning the next year. Right now, as we prepare for our biggest Halloween yet, we’re already thinking ahead to 2024 and even 2025.

Honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s our favorite holiday and one we love to live in year-round. Since June, we’ve been shipping this season’s candy to our retail partners. Since August, our retail teams have been working with store managers to secure premium locations for merchandising displays, sometimes in two, three and even four different locations throughout stores, so Halloween is top of mind. We know when shoppers see those Reese’s pumpkins, they know it’s time for Halloween.

For months now, we’ve been polling consumers to gauge their feelings about this beloved fall holiday. We use those insights to inspire product development and packaging for future Halloweens and to help ensure that our retail partners are prepared to give consumers what they want, when they want it. We love that when consumers think of Halloween, they think of Hershey; and when they think of Hershey, they think of Halloween. 

This year’s insight-led innovations

Our insights have inspired some exciting products and combinations that we’re unveiling this Halloween, starting with our new assortments. Assortments are king in Halloween: in the last five years, 60% of total Halloween growth across the candy, mint and gum (CMG) category has come from assortments. When choosing candy for trick-or-treating, we know that shoppers want to hand out the top brands and they want variety within those top brands, as well as a good value.

Hershey already makes the top brands that people want. However, when we assessed our assortments, we found that we had some room for improvement: our most sought-after candy brands—Reese’s, KIT KAT® and Hershey’s bars—were only in a small number of assortments. We did a massive assortment renovation and brought those beloved brands forward in more of our variety packs. In addition to designing several new exciting assortment packs featuring HARIBO® Gummies, we updated the graphics on the bag to make them pop more than ever.

We’ve seen a trend towards treating yourself across all seasons. We know that when Reese’s lovers shop in September or even August and spot a Reese’s Pumpkin or our new Reese’s Skeletons, they’re eager to enjoy it immediately, whether they celebrate Halloween or not. Reese’s is the number one brand of the season, and we're always looking to give consumers more ways to relish their favorite peanut butter and chocolate treat.

Planning for the best Halloween ever

When we reflect on the last few Halloweens, the sense of normalcy that we feel this year comes as a huge relief. For the most part, consumers have regained their trust in supply chains, so we don’t expect to see them stocking up on candy extra early in the season, as we saw in the recent past. Rather, our insights point to shopping behaviors on pace with pre-pandemic times. Consumers who make purchases early in the season are doing so as a way of treating themselves (like with those Reese’s Pumpkins), stocking up on candy to bake treats, or selecting the perfect salty snacks for their family movie night like SkinnyPop, Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels and Pirate’s Booty. Those who plan to buy candy for trick-or-treaters indicate that they may be waiting until later in the season, and they’re patiently on the lookout for deals.

We believe that collecting insights on a granular level is crucial in understanding not only the big picture, but also the little pieces of it. By doing so, we can better meet consumer needs and be a part of more moments of goodness. For years, our insights have consistently shown us how much consumers love Halloween. They don’t see it as a day, but as a season to celebrate in all kinds of ways. At Hershey, we strive to ensure that our products are available right from the onset of the season, so no one misses out. This commitment is driven by our aspiration to make every Halloween the best one ever for our company and for families everywhere.