It may be the heart of winter, but as the candy aisles start to fill with Cadbury Mini Eggs and Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, it’s easy to get excited about Easter, and all the new beginnings that come with spring.
In fact, that anticipation has already been building for months. Our consumer insight surveys suggest participation will be consistent with typical Easter celebrating with candy playing a central part of timeless traditions and at-home activities.
Seeing this enthusiasm so early is exciting news for us, where Easter has a significance unlike any other occasion. As the owner of the top-selling Easter brands—Reese’s, Cadbury and Hershey's—we have market share of around 40 percent, which is bigger than our next four competitors, combined. As I write this, we’re working hard behind the scenes to make sure retailers can count on us as they stock up on the treats consumers look forward to every year. Easter falls on April 4, so the season will be shorter, but we expect it will be strong because consumers are looking for a reason to celebrate, whether they’re treating themselves early in the season or filling Easter baskets later on.
This Easter will have a profound significance, as we approach an anniversary none of us expected we’d have: one year living in a pandemic. Easter of 2020 fell just weeks after much of the country went into lockdown. Businesses and consumers, alike, were in a tailspin, trying to navigate celebrations and shopping amid the anxiety and fear. We went to work with our retail partners, bolstering digital options so that we could help people safely celebrate during an incredibly turbulent time.
A year into the pandemic, we’ve seen just how resilient consumers are. They love routines, rituals and traditions, and despite COVID—or maybe in spite of COVID—they’re keeping opportunities for connection and goodness a priority. They’ve gotten creative at planning meaningful experiences with their own families at home, and candy is a big part of those celebrations. Many indicated that this year, they plan to celebrate in bigger ways than in the past by buying more Easter candy, baking more homemade treats, making bigger Easter baskets and planning backyard egg hunts.
We’ve also learned that COVID-19 has inspired consumers to start new Easter traditions. Our consumers are sharing new or increased celebration plans including: preparing an Easter meal at home, buying Easter items online, baking homemade treats and participating in a family egg hunt at home. In other words, people have got this whole “home cocooning” thing down, as they find ways to mark occasions safely and meaningfully.
As with every holiday, people love finding new flavors and wrappings to add to their mix of classics. This year, I’m excited for some new Hershey products that will be available for Easter 2021. For the first time, the Reese’s Mallow-Top—which is milk chocolate on the bottom, peanut butter in the middle and a marshmallow cream topping—will be part of our Easter line-up. We also have some stylish-looking new bunnies wrapped in foil under the Hershey’s and Reese’s brands. And we’re still elated about some of last year’s new products, like KIT KAT Lemon Crisp, Reese’s White Peanut Butter Cups and the Reese’s Pieces Shake & Break Milk Chocolate Egg. Plus, we have some really fun new assortment packages, as we expand our new partnership with Mondelēz International, Inc. to include Sour Patch Kids and Swedish Fish snack-size items.
Since COVID-19 struck, we’ve seen every seasonal celebration remain important for people, and we expect that Easter will be no different. As much as ever, Easter 2021 calls to mind not just a day, but a season when flowers bloom and anything seems possible.
I feel this deeply, myself. My love of Easter doesn’t just come from nearly 20 years of working at Hershey. It also comes from 20 years of being a dad. With three daughters, ranging in age from high school to college, I have countless memories of Easter celebrations, filled with elaborate, chocolate-filled Easter baskets and laughter-filled backyard egg hunts.
When COVID hit last year, my college-aged daughter came home and, along with her younger sisters, we were able to celebrate Easter as a family yet again. While we didn't celebrate outside of our home, we felt it was incredibly important that we uphold traditions and strive for a sense of normalcy. This Easter, that’ll be true, too—and then some. I know I’m not alone when I say that I wouldn’t have imagined we’d still be living this way, a year later. Because of that, I can understand why so many people plan on making this season special and my wife and I plan on that, too. My wife is the mastermind of our favorite Easter traditions with cherished recipes, extra special, delicacy-filled baskets and fun family traditions which we can enjoy while staying safe at home. Because we could all use a little extra joy these days, and what better time than Easter to celebrate the ones we love, in the season of new beginnings?
 “Easter Consumer Sentiment,” November 2020 Pulse