The Creation of Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cups

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Ryan Riess
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Senior Marketing Manager of Reese’s Brand, The Hershey Company

Reese’s is the No. 1 brand in the U.S. confection category, and I have the special pleasure of sharing my last name (minus the spelling) with the No.1 brand.  But enough about me...on to the story about our latest product creation.

The dynamic duo of chocolate and peanut butter is a winning combination. But it’s not just the ingredients that make Reese’s a beloved brand. It’s the color, it’s the wrapper, it’s the texture and, most importantly, it’s the memories people have that evoke emotion every time they savor a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. When it comes to innovation for a top brand, it takes time except in the case of the new Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cup launch.

It was a fateful train ride home from New York City with my passionate marketing colleagues, armed with a brain full of ideas after working sessions with partner agencies, which led to the idea of putting Reese’s Pieces candy inside a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. By the end of a three-hour train ride, the idea was born and initial conversations with R&D confirmed that the idea was possible.

Fast forward eight or so months to the idea becoming a reality. The speedy timeline did not allow for the traditional consumer testing, but rather relied on the deep understanding of the Reese’s (and Reese’s Pieces) consumers and trusting in the brand team’s knowledge.

Never underestimate the power of an experienced marketer’s intuition.

Daily, thousands of social media comments are made involving the brand. We are always listening, responding and evolving to meet the needs and desires of people who love our brand. We understand the power the consumer has to own the social conversation, and we always respect what the consumer wants to hear and talk about.

The result: Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cups

It’s Reese’s Pieces candies inside of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. This innovation, just as originally devised, brought together two favorites, the iconic and irreplaceable Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and crunchy mini Reese’s Pieces candies.

This innovation is an equity explosion, mashing up the love of peanut butter and chocolate with the texture of Reese’s Pieces. The combination is leading to an entirely new, but trusted, confection experience.

Nothing about this product was typical, including the marketing efforts. Original plans to announce this product were scrapped after a consumer Facebook page leaked information about the product – garnering nearly 40K views.

Similar to the innovation approach, we listened and enabled the team to act fast and deliver consumers what they wanted. And what they wanted to talk about was this potential new product. The result was #cupfusion, a week-long, real-time marketing campaign – speaking directly to consumers but neither confirming nor denying the product. 

After a week of anticipation, the brand officially confirmed on social media that the #cupfusion of these two fan favorites is, in fact, a reality, and more of a “cup-FUSION.” Here’s the official announcement post on the Reese’s Facebook page! Fans and media, alike, flocked to the news drumming up nearly 1 billion impressions, millions of GIF views and thousands of comments.

Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cups will be shown at the National Confectioners Association’s annual Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago this week and will be available at retailers nationwide later this summer.

To check out the other product innovations that we are debuting across the snacking continuum this year, check out our Sweets & Snacks Expo press release, product fact sheet and promotional/sponsorship fact sheet.

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