Exploring Hershey’s Brand Intimacy profile
Consumer goods ranked fifth out of fifteen industries in the 2019 Brand Intimacy Study, improving its average Brand Intimacy Quotient from 34.1 in 2018 to 38.7. The category ranks highest out of all 15 industries for being associated with the nostalgia (focusing on memories of the past and the warm feelings associated with them) and indulgence (having a close relationship with the user-centered on moments of pampering and gratification) archetypes. It is also #1 among all industries for consumers willing to pay 20 percent more for their favorite brands.
Hershey’s, an iconic American brand with more than a century of history, has ranked highly in the consumer goods industry over the past three years. In 2018, Hershey’s slipped to second place, behind Quaker; however, in 2019, it is back to #1. Its Brand Intimacy profile is linked to strength across several different measures—notably, archetypes, stages, the immediacy of its intimate connection, and economic equity; it also has the ability to connect with a variety of audiences across ages and income levels. Together, this creates a powerful emotional bond with a broad number of consumers.
Brand Intimacy archetypes are patterns that identify the character and nature of ultimate brand relationships. Hershey’s improved across all six of these archetypes in 2019. Notably, Hershey is strongest in two archetypes: nostalgia and indulgence. This combination of warm memories of the past and personal gratification creates compelling territories for the brand to leverage. Interestingly, strength in these two archetypes parallels the profile of our #1 ranked brand in our study, Disney, suggesting this combination is quite positive and impactful.
This year, Hershey’s performance across stages of Brand Intimacy shows considerable improvement in the bonding and fusing stages. This indicates the brand is successfully moving consumers into deeper relationships from the earliest stage of intimacy: sharing. However, the overall percentage of consumers who consider themselves intimate with Hershey’s has not grown since last year; this suggests the brand may need to do more to continue to attract (new) users consumers to try and engage with the brand. Once in the Hershey’s orbit, consumers seem to form attachments quickly (see below).
Hershey’s is among the top #5 brands overall in its ability to form immediate emotional connections with consumers. By their nature, food brands can be smelled, tasted, and experienced quickly. This gives food brands an advantage in stirring an immediate sense of emotion and pleasure. Chick-fil-A is also one of the top performers across this measure. What is particularly interesting is Hershey’s contrasting sensibility. On the one hand, it is associated with warm memories of the past that we fondly remember (nostalgia); on the other hand, it has the ability to create an immediate connection, one that consumers can recall years later.
Hershey’s is the highest ranked in Consumer Goods for price resilience. This means more consumers are willing to pay 20% more for Hershey’s than any other brand in the industry. Hershey’s improved its performance since 2018, moving from 17 percent in 2018 to 24.5 percent in 2019. We have demonstrated the intimate consumers are with your brand, the more they are willing to pay for it, so this bodes well for Hershey’s regarding the depth of feelings consumers associate with it.
Everyone seems to love Hershey’s. We already mentioned that it performs strongly with men, who typically have less attachment than women in the consumer goods industry. The brand also has broad appeal across age groups and income levels, suggesting Hershey’s resonates across generations with its focus on nostalgia and indulgence. This suggests the brand should be able to increase its pool of intimate users because it has broad appeal and relevance.
Although the brand has a strong foundation related to nostalgia, Hershey’s is charting a more contemporary course. The brand is replacing its recognizable logo and etching 25 popular emojis into the rectangles that make up its milk chocolate bar. This is for a summer campaign (not a permanent change) geared toward younger people and sharing experiences. Notably, the emoji-filled redesign marks the first time Hershey’s is altering its milk chocolate bar design since it first went on sale in 1900. The brand is also expanding into more wholesome snacks, including Krave, a dried meat product.
Hershey’s is a brand with a strong emotional appeal, which is associated with childhood and moments of indulgence, that continues to be relevant across different demographics. While it is strengthening its performance among its intimate users, the brand needs to bring more new consumers into the fold, increasing its percentage of consumers who are intimate with the brand; this may be part of the strategy with the summer redesign of its iconic milk chocolate bar as well as the company’s expanded focus on simpler ingredients and wholesome snacking. While we will have to wait to see if these initiatives are successful, it will also be interesting to see how it affects the brand’s core strengths related to nostalgia and indulgence. Will these new changes bring a new audience to the Hershey’s brand so many know and love? Will it change the character of the brand? Will it weaken the bonds many have with this American icon?
Check out our annual study and rankings of intimate brands. Visit our most recent rankings of intimate famous figures—BFF. Our Amazon best-selling book is available at all your favorite booksellers. Additionally, MBLM offers Custom Dashboards providing extensive data for brands included in its annual Brand Intimacy Study. To learn more about our Agency, Lab, and Platform, visit mblm.com.
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