Candy and Snack TODAY November/December 2013 : Page 73

VIP INTERVIEW very passionate about,” says Buck. “We built a company vision based on accelerating growth: How do we take it to the next level?” Focusing on two components — revenue and geographic growth — the newly established directive aims to hit a $10 billion sales target by 2017, achieved in part through growing international sales to 25 percent of total revenue. In 2011, the company had sales of $6 billion with less than 10 percent generated outside the U.S. — while others prefer pre-wrapped, smaller pieces as a means to moderate consumption. “We’re thinking about balance and choices, looking at what the consumer is after and offering products and forms that meet the different needs they and members of their families have throughout the day.” Illustrating the company’s determination to satisfy as many need states as possible, Buck T HE CORNERSTONE of The Hershey Co.’s vision is the points to its sugarfree plan Michele Buck helped design in her prior role as portfolio, which she Senior Vice-President and Chief Growth Officer. admits is not a big piece of Buck says it has five touchstones, and she explains the business, but serves a that first and foremost is a predictable, profitable, core group of consumers sustainable North American business. She emphasizes who need that type of that North America is the fuel in Hershey’s engine product. She also says despite increased focus on overseas markets. Winning communicating the with a consumer-centric portfolio will take an insight– gluten-free aspects of driven array of on-trend products and brands that many Hershey products is consumers are interested in, and having the right on the horizon, based on talent is absolutely critical, Buck says. About executing feedback from that with excellence, she says: “This company has a real consumer group, with knack for executional excellence, and we’ve put a big details on the website and priority on it.” For example, she says, Hershey a plan for on-pack continues to have its own retail sales and callouts. merchandising force in the stores, day-in and day-out, Clearly, innovation is making sure the strategies are executed, and displays one of the levers that has get built. “We have armed them with iPad technology enabled growth at so that they have all the analytics they need to be able Hershey, Buck says. “A to execute on the spot, to communicate with store couple of years ago, as managers and really discuss the business and make part of that consumer-something happen,” she points out. CST demand landscape initiative, we uncovered one of the places we were underserved was the hand-to-mouth occasion — unwrapped pieces of candy that are easily consumed.” In response, the company launched Hershey’s Drops and Reese’s Minis, which Buck says were met with success and quickly followed up with Rolo Minis and Kit-Kat Minis. The result, she tells Candy & Snack TODAY , is incremental growth. “What we have now is a portfolio that can be merchandised together at the same price point, leveraging the exact product profiles of our winning core brands, but in a format that is appropriate for a totally different usage occasion,” she says. Expanding beyond the chocolate platform, the company took the same learning into its sweets portfolio, launching Twizzlers and Jolly Rancher Bites. But in addition to the hand-to-CONTINUED ON PAGE 74 A PLAN FOR FUTURE GROWTH To achieve these goals, Hershey, Buck emphasizes, has declared its intention to win markets through insights and knowledge. “As we looked at how we’d won most effectively in the marketplace in the past, it had been at times when we had the best plan — we had the best insights that led to either a service our retailer was looking for, a product our consumer was looking for, or something the shopper needed,” she explains. Noting the category has seen transformational acquisitions in recent years — citing Mars Chocolate North America, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., Kraft Foods and Cadbury — short of Hershey being part of a similar deal in the future, the company “won’t be the biggest global-scale player.” But, she notes: “We want to always provide the best insights to drive our business as we counsel customers in terms of how to expand the category and adjacent categories.” At the center of Hershey’s insights is the consumer, Buck reaffirms. “We are constantly asking, ‘What are they looking for?’ as we listen to them and watch them living their day-in and day-out lives,” she explains, pointing out convenience and grazing continue to be key trends. of all Hershey’s brand products are sold outside the U.S. “We also look at where consumers are shopping, and how we can make sure we are present in all those places providing what they are looking for,” Buck says. She goes deeper, explaining some consumers are looking for a more accessible, indulgent snack of opportunity — a standard bar 25% w w w . c a n d y a n d s n a ck t o d a y. c o m N o v e m b e r / D e c e m b e r 2 01 3 Candy & Snack TODA Y 73

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