Playing from Strength, from Seasons to Birthdays


Eric Bowers
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Manager of New Occasions, The Hershey Company

In the United States, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween and Christmas are among the major holidays when Americans revel in celebration. Many people enthusiastically prepare for these celebrations several weeks in advance. Consequently, these events have now turned into “seasons” for consumers and the retail industry.

Seasons are very important for retailers as well as they create the opportunity for new news in their stores and drive incremental trips. Shoppers have now come to expect great seasonal-themed products and experiences in their favorite stores.

Hershey is a beloved part of seasonal traditions. People love Hershey because we connect with them emotionally. We know the traditions they care about, and the occasions where candy is present. Whether it’s candy for the Easter basket, affordable stocking stuffers for Christmas, or jumbo-size trick-or-treat bags for Halloween, we understand what they need to make these occasions even more special.  

Taking our Seasonal Strength to Broader Occasions

 Based on our leadership in seasons, we have been looking at new occasions where we can be part of people’s celebrations throughout the year. Our insights show that birthday celebrations are an opportunity for confection. Cakes and party supplies come naturally to the birthday shopper. What about candy?

Our iconic brands make candy perfect for the birthday occasion. Birthdays are a natural extension for us, and present a great opportunity to create personal and lasting impressions.

Candy Is Relevant In Birthdays, But Underutilized

Candy is highly relevant for birthday parties. Candy’s largest use during birthdays (53% of birthday sales) is in party favors and goody bags. Next in popularity is candy served as a treat in bowls (25%), and finally, candy is used in games, like piñatas, and as prizes (22%).

In spite of candy’s relevance during birthdays, only three in 10 moms use candy at parties. The reasons are actually quite simple: candy isn’t available in the right packaging for the occasion, and it is not placed in the sections of the store where birthday shopping happens.

Our Approach To Win

Hershey’s magic works in the traditional seasons because we have the right products at the right places in the store.

With birthdays, we have once again leaned on the strength of our marketing and sales teams working together. Marketing has created a portfolio that is designed to fit the birthday occasion. Hershey’s Kisses with foil colors to match popular party themes, large bags for piñatas, and packaging that screams “birthday” has been designed for the shoppers. Our sales teams are working with our retailer partners to explore new locations of the store with head-turning kiosks placed close to the bakery and party supplies sections. 

Positioned for Success in Birthdays and Beyond

We are rolling out our birthday strategy at some of the largest retailers, and the initial results have been strong. We are making great inroads to new occasions. We have launched products that provide new solutions for birthday planners, and we are making these treats available where they find it most convenient in the store. Our beloved brands and knowledge of celebrations make us a perfect addition to the birthday party!

If you enjoyed this, check out our other blog about the Hershey Wakefern birthday kiosk that is blending physical and digital shopping.