Makers and the Spirit of Innovation

Mary Beth West
Chief Growth Officer

Innovation is a tricky word.  In its simplest form, innovation is about taking something that already exists and making it better. In an era where we measure success with hockey sticks and unicorns, however, innovation is often conflated with the concept of disruption.  And, while that may be attractive for investors and trendwatchers, true disruption doesn’t always make things better. 

That’s why at Hershey we think about innovation beyond the introduction of new products and more as part of a larger framework of experimentation that begins with our investment in people and capabilities and borrows the best practices from other industries to work with both agility and scale.

The Innovation Paradox

Business culture has been dominated in the last decade by the concept of disruptive innovation.  We all know the stories of companies like Uber and Lyft and Airbnb who achieved success by being fundamentally different than the existing market.  Their collective success is attractive and revolutionary because of their impact for the consumer.  We celebrate their entrepreneurial spirit and creativity. However, there is a cost. Often disruption in a traditional industry is so severe that it actually becomes destructive.  

We’re Makers, not Destroyers

Following the path originally set by Milton Hershey, as a company, we’re makers at heart.  We pursue opportunities for growth by expanding in areas where we can do more.  We seek places where we can leverage our existing strengths and expertise and develop new capabilities.  We consider how we can operate on the leading edge, without straying from who we are at the core.   That’s how we differentiate and grow from a place of purpose.

Over the coming months, you’ll hear more from our experts and gain insight into how Hershey thinks about innovation in a variety of areas including:

  • Digital and addressable media capabilities—and how Hershey optimizes its media targeting and marketing mix – a critical process in driving engagement and relevance with consumers; helping to drive shopping trips.
  • Supply chain operations and how we help retailers keep pace with shifting consumer demand and trends in a changing retail landscape.
  • The concept of ubiquity and how we can achieve distribution through new partnerships, as well as non-traditional and emerging channels.
  • Ideas around brand renovation and experiences that deepen connections between consumers and the brands they love.
  • Offering consumers expanded choice by creating different variations of their favorite products to fit their lifestyle
  • The importance of bringing agility into product development, allowing us to combine the benefits of small-scale “test and learn” experimentation with the power of scale and distribution.

More importantly, we’ll give you a deeper look into who we are as a company and share with you a piece of ourselves.  We’ll show how we embrace the entrepreneurial spirit we admire within others, and how its grounded in a growth mindset that is uniquely Hershey.