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Snacks Retail Expertise

Product Innovation Meets Tech Innovation with the Launch of Reese’s Caramel Big Cup

The launch of the innovative Reese’s Caramel Big Cup is accompanied by equally innovative technologies—augmented reality and image recognition—to help retail partners drive sales.
Stephanie Berman
VP, Retail

Key Takeaways:

    • Hershey recently launched Reese’s Caramel Big Cup, which adds a sweet layer of gooey caramel to the classic chocolate and peanut butter combo.
    • To support the massive rollout, Hershey’s retail team is activating breakthrough technologies, including augmented reality and image recognition.
    • Through merchandise visualization and product performance tracking, these commercial capabilities are designed to help with data-informed decisions that boost sales.

December 13, 2023

In November, we launched the greatest combination since chocolate met peanut butter: Reese’s Caramel Big Cup. We’re so excited about the layering of chocolate, peanut butter and gooey caramel that we put together a cross-organizational campaign to promote this new product. The initiative brings together our capabilities in augmented reality and image recognition to assist retailers in making data-driven decisions that boost sales. To further assist our retail team, we’re also allowing Hershey’s non-retail employees to help with this busy launch through our Helping Hands program – the first time we’ve expanded this program for a product launch.

To discuss the technology supporting the launch, I sat down with my colleague, Andy Hunt, Hershey’s Manager of Applied Digital Innovation. Andy detailed how we're deploying these commercial capabilities to support the debut of this irresistible innovation.

The Reese’s Caramel activation is like none that Hershey has ever seen. Can you talk about what’s different?

Reese's image on a tabletPeople looking at image on a tablet

Absolutely. We wanted to pair our enthusiasm for Reese’s Caramel with a go-to-market approach that is bigger than ever. On the retail front, we’re using two proprietary technologies that we’ve designed and built to drive decisions, track performance, collect actionable data and boost sales—augmented reality and image recognition. I’ll explain how they work together.

Let’s start with augmented reality. Say a Hershey retail Territory Sales Lead (TSL) is doing a walk-through with a store manager, and they say “We’ve got this amazing new Reese’s Caramel piece of merchandise we want to put on the floor. We think we should place it at self-checkout.” Using augmented reality, they can then generate an image on their tablet of what the product would look like in that very spot, in that very store. When the store manager says “Hey, that looks great, let’s do it,” the rep goes back, pulls out the merchandise and places it on the floor. Then, they snap a photo. That’s where image recognition comes in.

The image recognition identifies the specific piece of merchandise and the exact in-store location of the display. With this we combine tracking sales in real time. As an added layer of tracking and data collection, it allows us to understand what effect the placement has on sales, the experience within the store and our products. So when our TSL suggests locations for product placements down the line, they’ll have robust data to back up their recommendations.  

How do you see these innovations benefiting retailers in the future?

These breakthrough technologies will provide unprecedented insights we can learn from and share with our retail partners. The augmented reality (AR) adds engaging visualization, showcasing how merchandising is meant to look and be placed. The image recognition (IR) helps everyone involved understand where and why Reese’s Caramel products are selling. A picture really is worth a thousand words. This data can also be applied to other products beyond Hershey items. Used together, the AR and IR can boost sales, decrease the potential for human error and free up Hershey’s TSLs so they can focus on other priorities in the store. These innovations will continue to be a part of our TSL toolbox moving forward for other Hershey products too.     

Now that the launch is in motion, what kind of feedback have you received from Hershey’s retail team so far?

They have been impressed with the way it helps them in their jobs. I touched base with Jim Conley, who is a TSL in Sarasota, Florida, for his thoughts. He shared,

“Augmented reality allows me to bring the display to life for my store partners. Showing how the display could look in multiple locations helps them see how the product can build excitement with shoppers and boost sell-through. AR has also helped me presell locations and gain buy-in from stores to maintain the displays. And when AR is leveraged with data, I have additional proof points to help gain additional display space. My retail partners have been impressed with the tool; it’s a game-changer!”

We’re also working closely with our media team to leverage the image recognition data for a more targeted media strategy, ultimately making it easier for consumers to find new products like Reese’s Caramel.

We like to talk about how the combination in Reese’s Caramel is better than the sum of its parts, just like how these technologies are transformational when used together. By rolling them all into the same campaign, we hope to reach more people and be a part of more moments of goodness, as consumers discover the best taste since chocolate met peanut butter.