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Hershey’s Halloween sales up despite fewer trick or treaters

CEO Michele Buck says the company’s results should give retailer’s confidence to set up holiday displays during the pandemic

Halloween-candy-Leena-Robinson-Shutterstock.com_-e1571925319344Hershey says its Halloween candy sales were up slightly this year despite a lower turnout of trick-or-treaters amid the pandemic.

Michele Buck–chairman, president and CEO of Hershey Co.–said Friday that earlier shipments of Halloween candy to stores helped boost sales. So did marketing messages that suggested safe ways to celebrate and even included maps showing community coronavirus risk levels.

“We made that decision to lean in and drive and build a Halloween season versus back away from it,” Buck said Friday on a conference call with investors.

Buck said investments in online sales capacity also helped move more candy. Hershey’s e-commerce sales grew 80% in the third quarter.

Early Halloween sales helped Hershey to a stronger-than-expected third quarter. The company said Friday its sales rose 4% to US$2.2 billion in the July-September period. That was ahead of Wall Street’s estimates, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

Hershey reported net income of $447.4 million for the quarter. Adjusted for one-time items, earnings were up 15.5% to $1.86 per share. That was also ahead of forecasts.

Buck said initial estimates indicated industrywide candy sales were down in the Halloween period. With coronavirus cases rising, many people decided not to give out candy or hold parties. But Hershey managed to buck the trend.

“We saw strength early in the season for at-home consumption as well as baking and crafts, and we saw lower participation in trick or treat in the final two weeks, but overall, the category showed resilience in a very volatile environment,” Buck said.

The National Confectioners Association had showed strong sales gains for Halloween candy in August and September as stores set up displays earlier. But the association said Friday it didn’t yet have sales data for October.

Buck said Hershey’s results should give retailers more confidence to put up holiday displays despite the pandemic. Some retailers were nervous about Halloween and downplayed the holiday, she said.

“We know that consumers will buy that holiday or seasonal product, whether it’s Easter or whatever, early for in-home consumption,” she said. “If you get it out there, it kind of sparks the trigger of fun moments earlier.”

Hershey taps into ASMR for feature film

ReeseTheMovie_PR_V1__3-300x195Hershey Canada is tapping into the ASMR craze with the launch of a feature length movie to promote its Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup brand.

ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) is a tingling feeling triggered by certain types of audio prompts including soft-spoken commentary, scratching, finger tapping or crinkling fabric.

The movie features five prominent names in the ASMR space–ASMR Darling, Gibi ASMR, Matty Tingles, Whisperland and Seafoam Kitten–using audio cues to capture what the brand is calling the “Reese Ritual.”

The brand discovered that consumers have a very specific way of eating a Reese Peanut Butter Cup, which “opened the door to parallels between eating the Reese Peanut Butter Cup and ASMR,” said Jackson Hitchon, head of marketing, Hershey Canada, in a press release.

The film streams on Crave TV starting June 9 and will be available via YouTube on June 17.

Originally published at Canadian Grocer.

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