Could Hershey's fictitious retailer Medley revive 'uninspiring' confectionery category?

Medley is Hershey's fictitious store concept that combines technology and shopper trends.  Photo: Hershey

The Hershey Lab has envisioned a “reinvented” shopping experience with a fictitious grocery chain, called Medley, as the line between digital and physical shopping is blurring.

The goal of creating such a store is to get Hershey’s retail partners to think about shopper trends, technology disruptions, and what the experiential store of the future will look like, senior director of retail evolution at Hershey, Brian Kavanagh, said in a statement.

“We’re not just working with retailers on developing the confectionery category. We want to help them leverage this technology for better stores.”

Medley is also designed to track with shopper trends, he added.

Taking brick-and-mortar stores to the next level

Hershey said in the first version of Medley, the staff is made up of experts: A butcher who can help with meal planning; a wine, beer and liquor expert who can offer pairing advice and cocktail ideas and even samples.

“Most of the concepts also include apps or online ordering technology, which solidifies the blend of digital and physical,” director of the Hershey lab, Lina Yang, said.

“Brick-and-mortar retailers are already embracing technology, and we are helping them consider how to take it to the next level.”

“On the flip side, online retailers are seeing the power of physical locations. We can be thought partners in that space as well,” she added.

Confectionery shopping is ‘uninspiring’

Kavanagh told ConfectioneryNews candy and chocolate is a fun category, because when people think about their favorite Hershey brands, they think about family holidays, birthdays, Halloween, etc.

“But we’ve consistently heard from shoppers that candy is a difficult category to shop,” he said.

“Shoppers tell us the confectionery category is uninspiring to shop. One of the biggest challenges we have are the number of package types in the category and that our packaging doesn’t pop on the shelf because most of those package types are lay-down bag.”

“We are addressing those near-term challenges as a company, but we’re also looking at long-term solutions like moving confection from simply an aisle to a shopping destination,” Kavanagh added.

With the digital and interactive concept of Medley, Hershey expects its retail partners will be able to get more savvy with their data and shopper insights in the future.

Will ‘store within a store’ still exist?

Hershey has previously tried to drive up confectionery sales through other retail experiments, including the concept of “store within a store,” in-store displays which feature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Hershey’s Kisses-shaped toppers, colored graphics of unwrapped candy and convenient organization by usage occasion, such as the candy dish, movie and snack, and grab and go.

All those displays stand in a circle around the perimeter of the store in order to drive consumers away from cluttered checkout aisles.

Hershey reported a 25% confectionery sales increase after testing the in-store concept at several retail outlets in the US.

But will this in-store strategy be applied to Medley?

“Every retailer is different and has unique needs,” Kavanagh explained. “Our approach is to work collaboratively with them on solutions that meet the needs of their shoppers, and that may take the form of a store-within-a-store concept.”

“We aren’t in the business of one-size-fits-all solutions,” he added.

Hershey also recently closed Hershey’s Chocolate World store in Chicago to focus on larger experiential retail stores, this site previously reported.

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