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The Hershey Co., together with Winn-Dixie and its parent company, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Bi-Lo Holdings, have debuted Hershey's "Candy Experience," a new concept replacing the traditional candy aisle at Winn-Dixie's recently renovated Baton Rouge, La., store. Testing has shown that the new store-within-a-store candy section can boost retailers' confection category sales by strong double digits, according to Pennsylvania-based Hershey.
The candy aisle at the Baton Rouge store now consists of a circular set of bold displays located at the front of the store adjacent to customer service and the checkout lanes, a dramatic departure from the traditional candy aisle location. Hershey took a full-category approach in designing the section, which features a selection of well-known confections, among them competitors' top brands. Displays include Reese's Peanut Butter Cups- and Hershey's Kisses Chocolates-shaped toppers, graphics of unwrapped candy, vibrant colors, and convenient organization by usage occasion.
The Baton Rouge store has committed to using the new candy aisle design for a year, during which Hershey will undertake in-store shopper research and category merchandising plans to monitor consumer reaction to the section.
The concept "puts the consumer and shopper first," asserted Rick Price, senior manager of center store evolution at Hershey. "A majority of shoppers find the candy category the hardest to shop and the least inspiring in the store, resulting in many shoppers walking away without any confection in their basket. Our reimagined candy aisle addresses these challenges and makes candy shopping more convenient and memorable."
In developing the candy section, Hershey used its proprietary insights-driven performance (IDP) retail collaboration model, which aims to grow the category based on industry-leading consumer and shopper insights.
'Game-changing' Candy Section
"We have put comprehensive success metrics in place, and we are excited to see how the Hershey's Candy Experience performs," noted Frank Jimenez, the company’s senior director of retail evolution. "We anticipate it will be a game-changer."
Jimenez added that Hershey would work with Winn-Dixie to roll the concept out to other stores, and "ignite a change in how candy is displayed and sold across the grocery channel."
Over the past few years, the grocery channel has seen declining center store category sales, including confection, with trips in the grocery channel down 2.1 percent, according to Nielsen.
Winn-Dixie employs more than 48,000 associates in about 546 grocery stores and 415 in-store pharmacies throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.