Hershey’s asked DEG to develop a direct-to-consumer (DTC) strategic plan to gather first-party data to better understand customer behavior and extend its lead in the confectionery industry.

Chocolate. Simply saying the word conjures up images of the deliciously sweet treats we grew up enjoying—and probably still enjoy to this day. While nearly everyone immediately knows the look and taste of “The Great American Chocolate Bar,” even one of the most famous brands needed to adapt to the ever-changing customer expectation of online shopping.

The challenge

Since 1894, The Hershey Company has made confectionery treats a staple in grocery store aisles everywhere. As consumer shopping channels continue to shift online, Hershey’s asked DEG to develop a direct-to-consumer (DTC) strategic plan to gather first-party data to better understand customer behavior and extend its lead in the confectionery industry.

To start, DEG focused in on the most important customer insight: Most shoppers buy sweets to satisfy a craving. But if purchasing treats as a gift, shoppers are likely to spend more and purchase unique products, especially when shopping online.

The strategy

To encourage more planned purchases of late-stage-differentiated products, Hershey’s needed to create a frictionless path to purchase that would allow anyone to learn about its products and find exactly what they’re craving or gifting when visiting its website.

Since the launch, Shop.Hersheys.com has seen a 98% growth in orders and a 105% increase in sales compared with the previous year.

The solution

DEG began by interviewing Hershey’s stakeholders and commerce fulfillment partners, and conducting an assessment of the brand, its products, and competitors in the confectionery industry. This included a content evaluation, Alteryx data append, cross-channel media analysis, and organizational study for the creation and ongoing support of a DTC commerce team within The Hershey Company.

The agency developed a cross-channel, multi-year marketing and technology roadmap to guide the expansion of Hershey’s into the DTC space and propel it toward achieving its revenue goals. The roadmap included three distinct personas to target, channel strategy and media recommendations based on persona-specific tactics for acquisition and retention, and ecommerce development initiatives designed to increase engagement and conversion.

Mixing a recipe for success, DEG leveraged its commerce and creative experts to build a one-stop Hershey’s DTC site on Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Each Hershey’s brand used a variable template to showcase its unique color palette, as well as dynamic seasonal shifts in content throughout the year. DEG’s creative team developed a design structure for each brand to live harmoniously within the same website without compromising consumer-brand affinity.

The outcome

Leveraging its strong brands and market position, Hershey’s and DEG launched the new DTC website in summer of 2019, during the key months leading up to the holiday and corporate-gifting season. Since the launch, Shop.Hersheys.com has seen a 98% growth in orders and a 105% increase in sales compared with the previous year.

This was the first step in transforming the business of a more-than-100-year-old brand to build loyalty and revenue by unwrapping happiness through digital commerce.

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