The story behind Hershey's most successful product launch in a decade

by Monica Watrous
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Hershey's Triple Chocolate Cookie Layer Crunch
New Triple Chocolate Hershey's Cookie Layer Crunch features milk chocolate layered with chocolate creme and chocolate cookie bits.
 

HERSHEY, PA. — “A chocolate lover’s dream” is how The Hershey Co. describes its latest product launch, an extension of the successful Hershey’s Cookie Layer Crunch line, which in its first year generated more than $100 million in sales. The new variety, fittingly named Triple Chocolate, features milk chocolate layered with chocolate creme and chocolate cookie bits.

Introduced last December, Hershey’s Cookie Layer Crunch has become the company’s biggest launch in the past decade, said Edward Edson, senior brand manager for Hershey’s.

Edward Edson, Hershey
Edward Edson, senior brand manager for Hershey’s

“What we learned is this has been a really incremental platform for the Hershey brand,” Mr. Edson told Food Business News. “We’ve grown our household penetration as a brand by almost 4% in 2017, which is a lot for a really big business.”

The new flavor joins a lineup that includes milk chocolate layered with caramel and shortbread cookie bits; milk chocolate with vanilla creme and chocolate cookie bits; and dark chocolate with mint creme and chocolate cookie bits.

“One of the key consumer insights that drove the overall platform was this need for millennial consumers especially to have more multi-textural snacking experiences,” Mr. Edson said. “And then as we looked at the Hershey’s brand, obviously a brand that is associated with pure chocolate, there seemed to be an opportunity for the brand to continue to grow relevance and scale amongst the millennial consumer base.”

Hershey's popped snack mixes
Hershey's "snackfection" category also includes Reese’s and Hershey’s Popped Snack Mix.
 

The product platform also plays into Hershey’s “snackfection” strategy, a term coined by the company to describe products that blur the lines of traditional confectionery and snack items. Another example is Reese’s and Hershey’s Popped Snack Mix, featuring chocolate-drizzled popcorn, pretzels, nuts and bite-size chocolate candy.

“Cookie Layer Crunch helps Hershey as a brand and a company move toward that snackfection space where we’re blending categories together, in this case, cookies and chocolate,” Mr. Edson said.

Also new from the company is Hershey's Gold, a caramelized creme bar flecked with crunchy, salty peanut and pretzel bits. Caramelized creme is touted as the fourth flavor profile in the Hershey portfolio, following the introductions of milk chocolate in 1900, dark chocolate in 1939 and white creme in 1995.

Hershey chocolate evolution
Caramelized creme is touted as the fourth flavor profile in the Hershey portfolio, following the introductions of milk chocolate in 1900, dark chocolate in 1939 and white creme in 1995.
 

“Millennial consumers are really seeking and on the hunt for what’s new and next,” Mr. Edson said. “There has been what we call golden creme confection that has been established in Europe on a small scale. We brought our own unique twist to that with both our proprietary process as well as providing the Hershey’s brand equity.”

Hershey's Gold rolled out to retail shelves in early December. The company is planning advertising tied to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

“The consumer response has been so exciting,” Mr. Edson said. “The engagement on our social media has been amongst the top the brand has seen in 2017.”

Hershey's Triple Chocolate Cookie Layer Crunch
In the months ahead, the Hershey team will continue to support growth of Hershey’s Cookie Layer Crunch.
 

In the months ahead, the Hershey team will continue to support growth of Hershey’s Cookie Layer Crunch while driving trial and awareness for Hershey's Gold, Mr. Edson said.

“We don’t launch innovation at Hershey without a plan for sustained support and growth, so as you can imagine there are things in the works that we will look to introduce in the coming years to further expand these platforms,” he said. 
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