Hershey’s is expanding its better-for-you segment by catering to the consumer group that looks for organic, plant-based and fair-trade products. Hershey’s is currently exploring and developing new products in this segment because they see that plant-based products are the fastest growing in the better-for-you category.
Hershey’s Oat Made Chocolate bars, with ingredients like extra-creamy almond, sea salt and classic dark chocolate, is the company’s newest oat milk-based innovation.
The company started its R&D journey to find the best offerings in the market for plant-based candy and wanted to better that. To differentiate themselves, they developed a formula using oats because they considered them to be the preferred milk-based substitute among all the other plant-based offerings in the market.
Currently, the company is trying to validate their Hershey’s Oat Made products by doing real-time in-market testing, which will help them manage the uncertainty and measure additional benefits to Hershey’s portfolio.
The bars were launched as part of a limited-edition test release that will end in June 2022. They are available at select retailers in the US, including Target and plant-based stores, where the location best fits the segment.
The results from this in-market test will determine whether the product will go national in the future or not. In addition, Hershey’s will analyze the sales velocity of the product and see who is purchasing their products. More specifically, they would like to know if the product is being bought by new customers and on what occasions.
As mentioned in a blog post, Hershey’s said they are still trying to determine how best to name the brand. In addition, they are trying to analyze whether using the term “Oat Made” or “plant-based” will be the best when advertising its new product.
They believe that time and consumer insights will help them determine how to scale up the product, when they should launch it, who the key retailers are, and more.
The better-for-you segment of Hershey’s company has been developing over the past 18 years. They’ve succeeded at providing consumers with plant-based and more “natural” alternatives popular candy during this time by introducing products such as the most recent Organic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
The Hershey’s Company is also known for its sugar-free products, including versions of its Twizzlers, Hershey’s chocolate and even its chocolate syrup. Expanding its portfolio by providing consumers with better-for-you candy options has kept the company a popular choice for many.
Other than The Hershey’s Company, mainstream chocolate brands such as Nestle’s KitKat are also exploring the option of providing consumers with plant-based alternatives. Earlier this year, the company rolled out a vegan KitKat made with rice-based milk and called it KitKat V. This took the company two years to develop and the initiative is still in its testing phase to study the opportunity for a wider rollout.
Plant-based chocolate has been around for a long time but seeing famous chocolate companies create alternatives and add them to their portfolios shows that the plant-based market is growing. These companies are increasingly investing in creating permanent products to provide consumers with plant-based confectionary options.