Chicago — Looking to remain relevant is at the core of Mars, Inc. In a presentation during the recent Sweets & Snacks Expo titled Mars: Driving Cultural Relevancy in Treats & Snacking, Andrew Clarke, president of Mars Wrigley Global and Anton Vincent, president of Mars Wrigley North America, told attendees that it’s more than a strong product portfolio that keeps the company succeeding.
“We have some incredible brands, and we need to do incredible things,” Vincent stressed. He used M&M’s as an example of a brand that brings people together. “M&M’s make sure relevancy remains,” he said.
The company recently introduced the M&M’s Purple character who represents inclusivity and acceptance. “She’s eclectic, she’s not perfect but she’s confident,” explained Vincent, adding that the character expands the idea that M&M’s are for everyone.
Clarke noted that Mars brings purpose to all its brands. “Making clear what our brands stand for is very important,” he said, explaining that Mars has invested $35 million in R&D to better understand consumers, who are the “heart” of the company. Today’s consumer increasingly cares about what companies stand for and what steps they’re taking towards environmental responsibility, he explained.
“Sustainability and purpose become more important,” he said. “We have a responsibility to do what’s right.”
Mars has committed to reducing greenhouse gasses, decreasing deforestation and developing sustainable packaging, according to Clarke. For example, Snickers, Milky Way and Mars bars in Australia, and fun-size M&M’s packs in the U.S. have recyclable paper film packaging.
“Consumers are voting with their dollars” in companies focusing on sustainability, Clarke said.
The presentation also touched on the state of the gum and mint category. Vincent noted that the pandemic helped teach the company a great deal about gum consumers and their purchasing habits. Significantly down during the pandemic, gum and mint sales are now within 9 percent of 2019 levels, according to Circana.
“When the sector came back after COVID-19, it came back in a very meaningful way,” he told attendees. He said Mars had to make sure it put the right amount of spending behind the $3.6 billion category to ensure it continues to grow.
Vincent and Clarke also discussed the growing snacking category. According to Circana, 49 percent of consumers snack three times per day.
“Snacking is a bang-on trend and a $700 billion category,” said Clarke. “People are skipping meals and snacking more.”
Not only are consumers snacking more, they’re looking for good-for-you items to snack on, he added.
When asked what the future holds for the company, Vincent assured the audience Mars’ growth prospects are as bright as 100 years ago.
Clarke agreed: “We have long-term vision, and we’re always looking for opportunities.”