The Hershey Company’s Marketing Strategy

On the Basics

Marketing is the strategic idea of connectedness with customers. Identify and discuss how your company connects with its customers

Marketing has been redefined to a significant extent within recent years. It has evolved from mere conveying of messages to customers into building connections with them through more complicated communication with a larger role of feedback. There are many concepts in terms of connectedness to customers. One of them is the selling concept implying businesses’ rather aggressive practices aimed at increasing their sales.

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Another one is the marketing concept, where connectedness is built upon the needs of the market or a certain portion of the audience, and the way a product or a service satisfies those needs is communicated to the public. Hershey’s marketing concept is to provide its products of constantly increasing quality and variety to customers who are loyal to the well-established brand or occasionally indulge in sweets opting for a reputed chocolate manufacturer. Another tool of building connections is making products that customers can use by themselves when cooking homemade sweets. Hershey’s even reveals some of its recipes, which contradicts the selling concept but complies with the marketing concept.

Provide a well-developed characterization of your market segment and your target market

Hershey’s products chosen for segmentation and targeting analysis are so-called shareable, i.e. sweet goods sold in packages of several bite-sized morsels meant to be shared in a company. The market segment that the products are aimed for is constituted by mostly young urban people who have plans for the day to spend it together and stop at a store to get a snack. This segmentation is based on demographical and behavioral characteristics.

Income is also a factor here: Hershey’s shareable are significantly more affordable than similar products of some competitors, such as Ferrero Rocher, but also somewhat less affordable than such alternatives as M&M’s. Hersey’s thus mostly targets the second and the third quarters of the income range. There are various considerations for businesses to penetrate or protect their targeted market segments. One of them is taking into account any new trends emerging in target audiences.

With young people’s growing preoccupation with ethics, Hershey’s needs to urgently address the allegations of using illegitimate labor. It has been argued that the company purchases cocoa from a supplier who does not guarantee that it is free of labor exploitation. This criticism undermines Hershey’s reputation, and particularly the trust of young people in the targeted segment.

Positioning

What position, if any, do you already have in the prospect’s mind?

Hershey’s established position is that of an old, reputable chocolate manufacturer that is to be turned to when one looks for good and rather affordable chocolate goods. The company has iconic products, such as Hershey’s Kisses, but also constantly introduces new ones to keep up with the customers’ need for novelty and diversity.

What position do you want to own?

To address more effectively the selected segment, i.e. young people, Hershey strives for obtaining an image of a modern company with a wide range of business interests and an understanding of current societal issues. The company pursues being seen as “cool” and also responsible and dedicated to the needs of the customers.

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What companies must be outgunned if you are to establish or maintain that position?

Hershey’s closest competitor is Cadbury that targets similar segments. Also, Hershey’s has the potential for attracting customer groups targeted by M&M’s, Godiva, and Ferrero Rocher. The groups targeted by these three companies are rather different in terms of many characteristics, but Hershey’s has resources and positioning opportunities for addressing them.

Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your company’s marketing mix and offer strategic recommendations on how the company should handle the most burning marketing problem/opportunity impacting the strategic performance of the ‘mix’

One of the approaches to the marketing mix is the 5Cs framework: customer, company, competition, collaborators, and context. First, it is necessary to identify who the customers are, what they want, i.e. what they perceive as their needs, and what they need objectively. Hershey’s has performed this analysis through segmentation and targeting (see On the Basics). Second, a company needs to evaluate if it possesses adequate resources, i.e. whether or not it has what it takes to satisfy the identified needs. As it was stated above, with its wide network of production and established reputation, Hershey’s has the potential for addressing the identified needs effectively.

Third, Hershey needs to analyze who else can address the same needs, i.e. examine the activities of Cadbury, Godiva, M&M’s, Ferrero Rocher, and possibly some other companies and find opportunities for building a competitive advantage. Fourth, Hershey’s needs to reconsider its partners, particularly the supplier of cocoa whose supplied materials are questionable in terms of ethics. Finally, there is the context in the modern world where sweet goods are regarded as rather unhealthy, which is why their popularity may decrease. Hershey’s needs to emphasize how its products contribute to the well-being of its customers.

On Consumer Buying Behavior

Describe a scenario of your typical customer using the buyer decision process when considering purchasing your company’s product/service

The buyer decision process is an important consideration in marketing. For effective targeting and positioning, a company needs to understand how its potential customers go through the decision-making leading to purchasing or non-purchasing the company’s products. For Hershey’s (although it operates several distribution channels, including online sales), a primary phenomenon to take into account is the customer’s decision-making in a store.

The first stage of the buyer decision process is needed recognition: a person goes to a store to buy a sweet snack. Sometimes, however, the need to buy a snack is not what initially drives a person to a store, and the need recognition occurs later when the person notices Hershey’s products on a shelf. The second stage is evaluation of alternatives: if preferring different flavors, looking for a different price, or loyal to other brands, a customer may opt for competitors’ products. Third, the purchase decision is made; in Hershey’s case, it is often accompanied by the intention to share the sweets with someone. Finally, there is the stage of post-purchase behavior: if disappointed, the customer may be unlikely to buy the product again, but if satisfied, he or she may develop loyalty in the future.

From the criteria that influence the rate of adoption, in what area does your company/product excel, and what area does your company/product require attention to strengthen the adoption process?

The likeliness to develop loyalty can be regarded from the perspective of the rate of adoption, i.e. the indicator of how a product is adopted in a certain group, to which it is marketed. The first stage of the product adoption process is awareness. This is one of Hershey’s strengths. Hershey’s is an old company with a recognized image, reputation, and high recognizability, which is why raising awareness among customers can be part of marketing in particular cases of launching new products but is it not a consideration for the company overall. The following stages are interest and trial.

The trial stage does not present serious threats either because Hershey’s produces high-quality chocolate. The interest stage, however, can be disturbed. The interest stage is not just about a customer developing interest in a product but also about the customer’s attempts to find information about this product. Searching on the Internet, a potential customer may find information about Hershey’s ethical issues, which is capable of diverting the customer from buying a Hershey’s product. That is why the company needs to address the ethical challenges to strengthen the adoption process.

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On Branding and the Product Lifecycle

Identify at what stage your brand falls within the product lifecycle model

The product lifecycle model implies four stages of development that a product goes through over time: introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. Companies should recognize these changes to apply marketing effort effectively to launching new products, promoting their adoption, strengthening their popularity among customers, and preventing decline or replacing the product with a different one that meets the modified needs of the market.

Many Hershey’s products have reaches the maturity stage, where the marketing strategy should be designed around the goal to retain a certain market share. Hershey’s should continue improving the overall business image along with increasing the quality of its products to ensure that the provided value remains at a high level. Since the lifecycle of such products as sweet good does not depend on technological progress (despite technological advancements, there will always be people who have a sweet tooth), ensuring eternal connectedness is associated with adjusting to the changing attitudes of the public.

Clarify your project company’s brand vision, brand personality, and brand positioning

The brand vision is what a company wants to represent to customers. Brand personality is the appeal to the customers’ preferences and emotional characteristics. Brand positioning is distinguishing the company from competitors. To ensure its business’s growth and success, Hershey’s has established a vision of a company that produces classical treats as well as new and diverse goods for people who may come from different backgrounds and have different lifestyles but are connected by the liking for chocolate goods.

Brand personality is therefore not regulated by social factors but factors of personal preferences. Finally, Hershey’s brand positioning, especially in terms of its shareable, is based on providing target audiences with high-quality chocolate goods in a variety of forms and flavors for anyone who would like to indulge in a sweet snack.

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