No tricks, just treats
The Mars Wrigley Confectionery Treat Report shares why treats are here to stay
As the world’s largest manufacturer of chocolate, candy, gum and mints, Mars Wrigley Confectionery is an expert on treats. We know that treats have a unique place in our hearts – from handing out candy at Halloween to presenting our loved ones with chocolates for Valentine’s Day. Data confirms treats’ continued importance to consumers, and annual sales of confections have grown 2% over the past several years. In 2017, Mars Wrigley Confectionery grew nearly three times faster than the confectionery category, driven by innovations from M&M’S®, DOVE®, EXTRA®, SKITTLES® and STARBURST®.
A few years ago, we asked Americans what a world without chocolate would look like, and 68% reported that they would be extremely or very upset at the prospect. Building on this research, we wanted to discover how and why Americans treat themselves today. In 2017, Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S. surveyed 1,000 adults in the U.S. age 18 and older to understand their treat habits. Survey findings revealed some fascinating statistics about what Americans prioritize when choosing a treat and why they treat themselves.
Our treatise on treats and treating
Findings show that across all age groups, Americans see treats as a special indulgence. Nearly all (98%) of respondents believe that a healthy lifestyle can include an occasional sweet treat.
This is in line with what we believe – that chocolate and candy is a treat. We think it’s fine to have a small treat every day, or a big treat occasionally. Ultimately, it’s all about making balanced choices about how we consume treats. That’s why Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S. has teamed up with the Partnership for a Healthier America to reinforce that chocolate and candy are a treat, not a snack.
For more than a decade, we’ve been committed to prioritizing consumers’ needs by increasing their choices and our transparency. As one example, in 2008, we were the first to prominently display calories on the front of all chocolate and confections packaging. In 2012, we eliminated “King Size” offerings, replacing those packages with “Sharing” options. Our biggest innovation ever – M&M’S Caramel – is under 200 calories.
In 2016, we launched 100-calorie bars for Snickers, Dove, Twix, Milky Way, and Starburst, among others, to continue providing consumers with more choices and transparency. Consumers love having the option to enjoy their favorite treats in the right-sized portion. Looking ahead, by 2022, we pledge that half of our individually wrapped products will be under 200 calories and will report on our progress to the Partnership for a Healthier Americ
The one treat consumers prefer over coffee
Not surprisingly - Americans love to treat themselves, with 27% preferring chocolate or candy treats. Baked goods come in second place, with savory treats in third.
When it comes to what people are never willing to give up, chocolate reigns king. Knowing that for most of us, our day doesn’t start without a cup of coffee, we asked consumers to choose between coffee and chocolate. Most Americans (53%) said that if pressed, they would rather give up coffee! The only part of the country where coffee wins over chocolate is the West, including the caffeine mecca of Seattle. The good news is that coffee and chocolate go very well together, and consumers do not have to choose.
Sharing for the ‘gram and the fam
More people are reaching for indulgences with social media in mind. The survey showed that nearly one in three people across all age groups have bought a treat specifically because they wanted to share a picture of it on social media. Considering roughly two-thirds of Americans are active on social media, that’s a lot of Instagrams.
This number skyrockets when you look at younger generations. Data shows that 52% of millennials have purchased a treat specifically to share on social media – not surprising for consumers who grew up on Facebook and Instagram and are considered digitally native. Savvy marketers are responding to millennials’ desire to share on social: consider, for example, the rise of unicorn food.
Sharing isn’t just for digital channels. Treats are a perennial favorite for gift-giving. About 66% of all respondents say that sweet treats are a go-to gift for friends or family members. And what makes a treat even sweeter? Sharing it with a friend, says 74% of Americans.
This last insight really struck us – treats are about sharing a special moment with the people we love. That’s why we created the Mars Wrigley Confectionery Sweet ReTREAT: the first-ever candy and chocolate-inspired salon, but with a twist. We’re offering Skittles-inspired manicures, minty fresh blowouts and more, but only for guests who bring a plus one they can treat!
Candy has been enjoyed for generations, we believe in providing more choice and transparency to help consumers meet their personal health and wellbeing goals while occasionally indulging. That’s because just like consumers, we think treats are pretty sweet.