- Hershey unveiled a new Mobile Customer Insights Center (MCIC) tractor trailer Wednesday afternoon at its headquarters in Pennsylvania. The 53-foot trailer will travel to retail partners nationwide to provide shopper insights, according to a release.
- The MCIC trailer will be making stops in cities across the country, including Washington, D.C., Chicago and San Francisco, according to the release. The trailer opens into a 22 by 53-foot space with expandable panels that can hold 15 people.
- Two experts will be at every stop working directly with retailers to discuss and teach new shopper strategies for marketing and merchandising across shopping channels. The MCIC is an extension of Hershey's Global Customer Insights Center, which opened in 2006 and is based in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Hershey’s new tractor trailer is the latest in a series of moves to understand what the consumer wants and use those findings to ramp up sales.
Direct connections with retailers could allow Hershey to have more control in stores. According to Hershey, MCIC experts will show retailers how to optimize product innovation, store layouts, checkout lanes and marketing both in store and online. These dialogues could also help the candy company find new ways to promote their products at different chain stores.
This isn’t the first time that Hershey has invited retailers to learn from their experts. The CPG has offered consultation services since their Global Customer Insights Center opened 12 years ago. At the center in Pennsylvania, retailers were able to talk to Hershey specialists for sessions about shopper behavior, strategies for boosting sales and the future of online retail. The trailer could be Hershey’s way of reaching chains that aren’t able to travel to their headquarters. MCIC may also help Hershey better understand different retail perspectives, since traveling to different parts of the country will allow them to hear from companies that were not able to come to them.
Hershey's investments in understanding and anticipating consumer demands have been extensive. Last year, the manufacturer launched Medley, a futuristic grocery concept at their headquarters. Retail companies were invited to interact with the test format and give feedback as to how the store could function better. The concept also allowed Hershey to collect data and find ways to better integrate its e-commerce strategy with in-store experiences.
The MCIC experts plan to provide those findings and advice on marketing across brick-and-mortar and digital channels. E-commerce insight is becoming increasingly crucial to success for both brands and grocers, as 70% of shoppers are expected to occasionally shop for groceries online by 2022, according to the Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen.
Hershey has already made changes based on the data it's honed. After 76% of shoppers expressed frustration with the candy aisle clutter in stores, the candy company debuted a redesign at 20 locations across three national retailers that drove an increase in aisle visits. The CPG has also recently prioritized e-commerce by restructuring its departments so that digital-focused employees could work directly in the company's sales and marketing sectors, and has invested in further data analytics to understand online shoppers.
Aside from building relationships with retailers, Hershey's MCIC trailer will also help keep its candy products top of mind for consumers as it travels across the country. The structure's exterior is decked out in Hershey branding, and is stocked with shelves of Hershey candy and a check-out area. So far, the investment in the trailer seems like a win for Hershey, consumers and retailers, though whether or not the initiative will improve Hershey's in-store performance remains an open question.