Ever had a craving for a peanut butter cup? Not a passing desire for a sweet treat of a vague description but an actual burning desire for that combination of chocolate and peanut butter most perfectly embodied by the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup?
Don’t be embarrassed. In fact your friends at Hershey’s are actually aware of this, and to help consumers avoid midnight trips to a convenience store on the hunt for their fix they can now buy their peanut butter cups by the pound directly from the Hershey’s factory. Called Reese’s Direct from the Factory, the new direct-to-consumer (D2C) initiative from Hershey’s allows consumers to purchase a 2.5 pound box of peanut butter cups for the bargain price of $29.99.
Boxes are in pre-order currently and will be fulfilled later in March. They will only be available for a limited time.
The move comes as the latest attempt by Hershey’s to pivot alongside the market in the last year. Those efforts started small last year, as the brand realized that consumers stuck at home were making S’Mores en masse and began ramping up production of materials.
“Being able to read those consumer and retail signals quickly allowed us to take advantage of the opportunity,” Hershey’s Chief Growth Officer Kristen Riggs said last year. Riggs went on to note that Hershey’s was getting savvier about online product placement. For example, the firm makes sure Hershey’s syrup ads are placed near ice cream, or candy and baking supplies ads near Christmas ornament listings. It also means making the buying experience easier by, for example, making it possible for a customer to buy a collection of recipe ingredients with one click.
A collection of recipes or a 2.5 pound box of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, apparently.
Hershey’s latest efforts resemble a lot of the efforts to push big brands in a D2C direction over the last year. Pepsi has taken the direct-to-consumer route, rolling out D2C websites PantryShop.com and Snacks.com; Coke has rolled out a subscription service that will let consumer sample new beverage flavors before they hit the market; and Kellogg’s has started paring Special K with themed socks.
It is a very different variation on buying direct from the brand. But brands have evolved that direct purchase opportunity to be something a little bit different — an opportunity to connect with the consumers with a rarified or unique offering.
An offering that is looking increasingly appealing to consumers, according to PYMNTS data in the D2C And The New Brand Loyalty Opportunity study. According to the report, 60.6 percent of consumers report using online channels to purchase food and beverage products directly, while 44.5 percent report they were drawn to D2C opportunities to gain access to the full range of product offerings a brand has on option.
“What we’ve heard from consumers is that during times of crisis, they like to turn to things that give them comfort, and our brands play an incredibly important role in bringing smiles and joy and comfort to shoppers,” Jeff Swearingen, senior VP and head of PepsiCo’s Demand Accelerator, recently said in an interview. “We’ve seen that increase in demand for our products, particularly with salty snacks.”
And it seems that this new consumer habit will outlast the “time of crisis” that gave birth to it, as according to a PYMNTS study some 83.3 percent plan to stick with their new digital habits, even when the pandemic period has finally come to a close.
Will everyone want to buy their Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in 2.5 pound units directly from Hershey’s going forward? Probably not, as that is a lot of chocolate and peanut butter, and Hershey’s has already confirmed that supplies are limited. But will consumers keep on cutting on the middleman in the face of brands working hard to entice them into a more direct sales relationship? That change, it seems, has already happened in the last 12 months and seems likely to stick around for the next 12 and beyond.