Although online shopping is growing, brick-and-mortar is still the primary place confections are being purchased. 

That’s according to insights released by Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S.

Within the store, the main aisle is the most common place shoppers pick up confections – 62 percent of shoppers make confectionery purchase decisions at shelf. But, only 20 percent of shoppers entering the confectionery aisle actually shop the aisle and only 17 percent of those shoppers actually end up purchasing confection.

Mars Wrigley’s Path to Purchase approach considers the full shopping journey at large-format stores, as well as how consumers use confections. The approach outlines key areas of opportunity, inside and outside the store, to help retailers provide a seamless, integrated experience that ultimately results in more sales.

 “While digital transactions are on the rise, brick-and-mortar will always be a crucial component for shoppers, and the candy aisle will continue to be a main source for purchases,” said Shaf Lalani, v.p. of customer experience. “Mars Wrigley Confectionery's new Path to Purchase strategy and best-in-class shelving were created to help retailers connect the products shelved in the aisle with the reasons and moments where candy is used. We’ve already seen great success testing our recommendations with retailers like Jewel-Osco and are excited to introduce this strategy to more retailers nationwide.”

At Jewel-Osco, shelving changes drove 5.4 percent growth – consistently outperforming the control stores – and all category segments within the test stores experienced positive uplift.

As part of its research, Mars Wrigley also found that: 

  • Shoppers rated the confectionery category nearly 100 percent more difficult to shop than other comparable categories. 
  • Nearly half of Millennials (47 percent) choose a treat to boost their mood, compared with 36 percent of Gen Xers and 28 percent of Baby Boomers.
  • 62 percent of shoppers make confectionery purchase decisions at shelf.
  • If the average amount of time a shopper spent engaging at the shelf decreased by one second, the average basket ring would increase by $0.21.
  • The main aisle accounts for two-thirds of confectionery sales.
  • Shoppers spend nearly all of their 57 seconds in the confectionery aisle searching, instead of shopping.
  • 70 percent of impulse purchases are driven by visibility or an in-moment craving.

Path to Purchase Recommendations

1. Using occasions for confections to drive conversion

Mars Wrigley’s research shows there are four main reasons consumers reach for treats and snacks, including: 

  • Recharge (refresh and renew now or for later)
  • Reward (treat or reward yourself or loved ones)
  • Connect (enhance informal sharing occasions)
  • Celebrate (celebrate seasonal events and special moments)

2. Ways to help shoppers notice and find confectionery in-aisle

By creating a more intuitive and visually-appealing shelf and aisle, search time can be reduced, and shopper satisfaction and sales will increase. A few opportunities to do this include: 

  • In the aisle: Lead with the most impulsive, highest penetration segment (chocolate) to lead the customer down the aisle and end and anchor the aisle with the most planned segment (gum).
  • At the shelf: 
    • Remodel the merchandising flow based on the time of day and the reasons shoppers need confections. For example, expand and block gifting options to encourage everyday gifting and/or remind shoppers that confections are a vital part of celebrating. 
    • Clearly define and vertically block chocolate, organic and natural snacks and fruity confections to create powerful “brand billboards” for shoppers.

3. Treating candy as a treat, not a snack

Mars Wrigley knows through its research that consumers view candy as a treat and continue to enjoy it as part of a balanced lifestyle, especially Millennials. In response, it’s important retailers provide consumers with a range of formats, calories and price options to drive sales. A few examples include:

  • More options for share sizes and resealable packaging
  • 100-calorie bars and packs, such as those available for Skittles, Dove, Twix and Snickers.
  • Low-calorie gum choices such as Extra, Juicy Fruit and 5 gum.

Background on insights

Mars Wrigley’s Path to Purchase recommendations and best-in-class planogram were developed after a multi-month global research initiative to understand today’s end-to-end confectionery shopping experience. 

Qualitative, human stories were married with a deep quantitative understanding across all channels and candy segments. Input was gathered from multiple countries and 40,000 respondents, across 22 categories of consumables.