- "Snackfection," a term coined by sweets and snacks producer Hershey, is at the heart of a "significant innovation" set for a fourth-quarter launch, John P. Bilbrey, Hershey chairman, president and CEO said on an earnings call last week.
- This particular snackfection could be the combination of snacks and confections that integrate characteristics like sweetness, saltiness and texture from a wide range of ingredients, such as chocolate, nuts, fruit, seeds and cookies pieces, to create new products that cross category lines.
- Bilbrey said that Hershey tends to focus on "sticky innovation," or "innovation that lasts." That innovation itself becomes a platform and "allows you then to expand even across brands because you’ve identified a need state that is really important," he said.
The commitment to "snackfection" and consumers' demands for more complex textures has already been apparent in Hershey's acquisitive growth in addition to internal innovation investments.
Earlier this year, Hershey announced its acquisition of barkTHINS, a premium snacking chocolate brand that combines chocolate with ingredients like almonds, coconut and pretzels. In time for last year's holiday season, Hershey also launched Hershey's Kisses Deluxe, which added complexity to conventional Hershey's Kisses by incorporating a hazelnut center and rice crisps in the chocolate.
It's notable that Hershey has teased its upcoming "significant innovation" in the realm of snackfection well before its anticipated fourth-quarter launch.
The early announcement of new products can have mixed results. Campbell and Keurig announced a partnership to create Campbell's soup K-Cups about two years before the product actually debuted, when growth for single-serve beverages was surging. But Campbell ended up discontinuing the product less than a year later, in part because consumer sentiment toward the perceived wastefulness of single-serve packaging had begun to take hold by the time the product finally launched.
On the other hand, pre-merger Kraft Foods announced in April 2015 that it would remove artificial colors and flavors from its iconic Kraft Macaroni and Cheese brand. It did not re-announce the product's actual debut in stores, choosing instead to quietly release the reformulated product in December. It wasn't until March that Kraft Heinz announced it had released the new version of the product to stores, undetected by consumers or the media.
The key for Hershey's success with this new innovation will rely on just how relevant and broadly impacting a trend like snackfection might be. Considering separately the fast growth of snack foods and the continued growth of indulgent products like chocolate, the combination of the two segments could have the desired flavor and texture impact and figurative stickiness Hershey is after.