Mars Wrigley’s Halley Offers Insights For Driving Unplanned Opportunities

Mars Wrigley Confectionery US, LLC’s Stephanie Halley explains how tomorrow’s brick-and-mortar and click-and-collect experiences can be positioned to maximize unplanned confectionery purchases.

Cleveland — In a decade, product choices and methods of shopping available to consumers have drastically changed the retail experience. Shoppers are choosing self-checkout, d-commerce and click-and-collect for speed and convenience. The shifts, according to recent reports, brought 52 percent growth in self checkouts from 2019 to 2020, an explosion of online grocery sales that now exceeds $7 billion, and a dramatic 55 percent increase in click-and-collect points during the past three years. 

COVID-19 merely accelerated these changes, forcing retailers to expand their digital shopping capabilities and incorporate semi-contactless checkout in stores at a faster pace than expected, resulting in significant challenges to their profitability, sources indicate.

Unplanned purchases, by nature, do not make it onto shopping lists. They’re traditionally bought at checkout, and as retailers work to catch up with consumer preferences, it’s no surprise they are being impacted. Consumers have fewer opportunities to engage with these products, and in the U.S., there’s a potential $2 billion annual risk to confectionery alone, based on AC Nielsen data.

As digital sales continue to accelerate, retailers must strive to make the in-store experience as meaningful and convenient as possible to attract shoppers into stores and drive bigger baskets and unplanned sales. Confectionery is the category poised to deliver, and with the right approach there’s significant opportunity to overcome the current risk and drive incremental conversion. In fact, the category is more profitable and productive for the space it takes than any other treats and snacks category, and is a top profit contributor for total center store grocery.

Introducing Accelerating Impulse Moments 

Retailers are seeking solutions to capitalize on the opportunity of impulsive categories and proactively evolve their shopping experience to drive efficiency and profitable growth into the future. To spearhead this growth, Mars Wrigley Confectionery US, LLC is launching the Accelerating Impulse Moments (AIM) program, a work of thought leadership and visionary recommendations rooted in rich insights and data. The four-pillar platform consists of conversion strategies that retailers can leverage to drive unplanned sales online and in stores, focusing on aisle optimization, secondary display growth, transaction zone reinvention and digital solutions execution.

With new technologies and shopping fulfillment methods emerging faster than ever, the possibilities for creating exciting shopping experiences are endless. Understanding shoppers’ needs and the innovative technology available to meet those needs is the foundation of AIM. Mars Wrigley is investing in studying shopping behavior, gleaning valuable retailer KPI data intelligence and testing omni-channel solutions both in the U.S. and globally, to build insights-led recommendations that enable retailers to evolve their shopping experiences and drive sales. 

Each of the strategies within the four pillars will help retailers shape and convert sales throughout the shopper journey, be it at curbside pick-up, online or in-store, leading to an effective and engaging omni-channel experience. AIM’s strategies are designed to be applicable across large and small format locations like convenience stores and grocery, and across multiple unplanned categories to provide retailers a holistic total store strategy.

Three Insights to Drive Unplanned Sales

Shopping in the next year, or even five years, will be speedier and more convenient, especially online, but brick-and-mortar stores aren’t going away. Busy consumers are demanding products, places and processes to simplify their lives. Retailers are expected to evolve brick-and-mortar opportunities to give shoppers an enjoyable and engaging experience that brings them into stores – even when they could shop digitally. With that, AIM recommendations are based on three primary insights:

With digital technologies, there is an opportunity to reinvent unplanned delivery and fulfillment: According to research, 62 percent of click-and-collect shoppers would be interested in adding instant consumption items to their orders at pick-up time, giving retailers new moments to engage shoppers with this omni-channel shopping approach.

Merchandising solutions are and will be more important than ever: Treats & Snacks is the most engaging department in the store, and confectionery is a top three category within it to drive shopper engagement, according to Nielsen. To drive conversion of Treats & Snacks, retailers must target in-store locations that gain the most exposure and fit seamlessly into the shopper journey, and stock up on popular, relevant products, including confectionery. 

As store space is repurposed and shelf space/assortment is simplified, retailers must prioritize shopper engagement: With 67 percent of shoppers saying they are doing more shopping at retailers that provide an experience versus ones that just “get the job done,” retailers must strive to create engaging experiences that provide additional value for shoppers. 

Through AIM, Mars Wrigley is not only reimagining unplanned sales at check-out but also identifying new, evolving spaces in aisle, in total store and digitally to optimize category presence and drive conversion near term and far into the future. For example, Mars Wrigley has been exploring how retailers can effectively integrate robotic technology into their stores to inspire purchases. 

In early 2021, Mars Wrigley, in partnership with retailer Wakefern Food Corp. and Savioke, Inc., a robotics provider, deployed Smiley, an autonomous robot that prompts purchases around the store while displaying shopping-enhancing features including in-store navigation. Early results are promising, proving robotics as an effective means for driving incremental category conversion, particularly when featuring new items.

Seamless checkout is also a key part of the AIM platform, and globally Mars Wrigley is partnering with Standard Cognition to test store designs to help retailers move into a new world of autonomous checkout by integrating seamless technology and capture unplanned sales. 

Building The Store Of The Future

Mars Wrigley is taking its AIM recommendations and conversion strategies a step further with its Store of the Future (SOTF) insights work. 

To formulate this visionary evolution across center store, fulfillment, digital and transaction spaces, the company consulted with industry leading store design experts and leveraged key retailer key performance indicator data across total store to recommend improved store design, space allocation and most importantly, the most productive placement of impulse categories within the evolved retail landscape. 

Together, AIM and SOTF conversion strategies and vision will enable retailers to drive growth and evolve with their shoppers in the near and long term.

As shopping evolves, so will Mars Wrigley’s AIM platform, continuously incorporating test-and-learn
results, new consumer behavior insights and the latest technology to ensure the framework continues to be cutting-edge and forward-thinking as we bring redesigned stores to life.

Contributor Info: Stephanie Halley is the senior category strategy manager for Mars Wrigley Confectionery US, LLC across all channels (nationally) for Future Consumption and Digital Insights Activation. She has worked for the company for the past seven years in category leadership and category strategy. Prior to her current role, Stephanie led the Mars Wrigley category leadership team for Walgreens Co. and managed the retailer’s seasonal confectionery business. She can be reached at [email protected].