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Confectioners learn to adapt.

NEW YORK -- Mars Chocolate North America and Hershey Co. are responding to changing consumer habits with launches for the holidays and next year, while introductions from Mars subsidiary Wrigley are enlivening the gum segment.

Smaller sizes, a multitextured bar and new packaging are among the companies' innovations for consumers who are moving from traditional meals to multiple snacking occasions with various tastes and textures.

Mars and Wrigley are rolling out new products ranging from M&M'S caramel chocolate candies to Orbit White gum. "We are laser-focused on involving our customers and shoppers in our decisions. We're listening, sharing insights and evolving to meet their needs," said Mars president of sales Tim LeBel. "For example, we know that more consumers are sharing now more than ever, which has grown the bite-sized candy subcategory. Based on consumer and customer feedback, we're converting lay-down bags to a redesigned stand-up pouch format for M&M'S brand candies, Snickers Bites and Twix Bites. This conversion aims to transform the candy aisle by aligning packaging sizes and names across Mars' bite-sized portfolio. This will make it easier for retailers to promote and merchandise across brands, plus it will improve the shopping experience for consumers. "

"The driving force behind our innovation is consumer choice," said Wrigley vice president of U.S. sales and operations Edward Taylor. "We dial into what consumers seek from our brands and implement our category-leading shopper insights to help our retail partners merchandise products to satisfy their shoppers' needs."

Wrigley's innovations are designed "to help grow the category by delivering relevant products that meet shoppers' needs," he added. "We know that consumers are often running low on gum, so we're giving them more gum in their favorite brands with the 35-stick Extra and 5 gum mega packs, and the new 40-count Orbit White soft chew that helps keep teeth white. We're also giving shoppers fun ways to celebrate their favorite occasions, from summer holidays to game day, with exclusive Skittles America Mix, Juicy Fruit America Pop and Skittles Trick Plays. "

For its part, Hershey is rolling out the Hershey's Cookie Layer Crunch bar, which it says earned some of the highest consumer scores of any of its launches. To meet growing demand for food with multiple textures and various snacking occasions, the company reimagined its iconic chocolate bar, pairing it with layers of crunchy cookie bits and fillings.

"We recognize eating habits are evolving and that consumers are moving away from traditional meals and into multiple snacking occasions that include various tastes and textures throughout the day," said MaryAnn Somers, general manager and vice president of U.S. confection for Hershey. The company spent 18 months "perfecting" the new bar "to ensure that it not only tastes great but meets the needs and desires of today's modem convenience store consumer," she said.

The company has also partnered with four retailers to offer its limited-edition Hershey's Kisses Kissmas chocolates. Kissmas gift chocolates will be sold exclusively at CVS Pharmacy. Santa Hat chocolates will be available only at Target Corp. Kissmas Sweater chocolates will be solely at Walmart, and Kissmas Tree Chocolates will just be at Kroger Co. stores.

Hershey is also expanding the role of confection to meet consumers' evolving snacking needs. As part of this evolution, it has launched Snack Mix lines, featuring its two largest and most iconic brands, Hershey's and Reese's. These products blend bite-sized confection pieces with a combination of sweet, salty, cmnchy and creamy textures, providing a nexus for snacking and confection. Additionally, the company is expanding its Snack Mix brand to include new Take5 and Almond Joy Snack Mixes. All Snack Mix varieties are available in portable canisters and single-serve packs for on-the-go-snacking.

Chocolate Candy Box/Bag/Bar < 3.5 Oz.

TOTAL DOLLAR SALES * $426.6 mil.(+2.2%)
DRUG STORIES $77 mil.(-4.7%)

LEADING BRANDS **              Market       Dollar     Dollar sales
                               share        sales        % change

M&M'S                          13.1%       $10,088        + 2.1%
Reese's                        10.6%         8,170        - 7.1%
Snickers                        9.5%         7,275        - 9.6%
Hershey's                       8.1%         6,210        - 4.0%
Kit Kat                         7.6%         5,824        - 2.3%
Twix                            3.0%         2,313       - 11.6%
Hershey's Cookies N Creme       2.5%         1,919        + 8.7%
Dove                            2.4%         1,842        - 7.3%
Peter Paul Almond Joy           2.2%         1,714        + 2.2%
Nestle Butterfinqer             2.1%         1,610       - 10.6%

TOTAL UNIT SALES * 411 mil.(+1%)
DRUG STORES 75.5 mil. (-4.5%)

LEADING BRANDS **            Avg. price   Unit sales    Unit sales
                              per unit      (000)        % change

M&M'S                          $1.22        8,265         - 2.0%
Snickers                        0.96        7,605         - 0.4%
Reese's                         1.11        7,389         - 9.5%
Hershey's                       0.98        6,330         - 8.3%
Kit Kat                         1.00        5,809         - 0.4%
Twix                            0.80        2,878         + 9.2%
Nestle Butterfinger             0.72        2,227        - 11.1%
Nestle Crunch                   0.68        2,008        - 22.9%
Hershey's Cookies N Creme       0.98        1,960        + 10.3%
Peter Paul Almond Joy           0.93        1,846         + 4.0%

* Total of drug stores, supermarkets, discount stores,
military commissaries and selected dub and dollar stores.

** In drug stores only.

Source: IRI For the 12 weeks ended October 2,2016.
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Publication:Chain Drug Review
Geographic Code:100NA
Date:Nov 21, 2016
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