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target marketing strategy examined: An analysis of Hershey and Mars (The Kings of Candy)

successful marketing programs in the candy industry

      Selection of the appropriate target market is vital in developing successful marketing programs. Marketers need to adopt different strategies to appeal to different target markets considering that consumers’ purchase goals, product knowledge, involvement, and purchase behavior vary. The two big players in the candy industry (Hershey and Mars) have been fighting for years to obtain market share.  However, Hershey has been ahead in this fight since when it decided to target the adult markets.  There are advantages of targeting this market:

  • In the beginning Hershey’s candies were targeted toward children, although this was a highly profitable market, it was relatively small and limited Hershey’s chances for growth.  So, Hershey came up with its new products (Hershey Kisses), which helped increase sales in the adult market.
  • The past decade has shown an increase in the candy industry competition; by targeting adults Hershey was able to separate itself from the competitors, which translated in increased profits and market share. 
  • The primary research show that mothers determine the children’s early taste in candy, so by being the first to reach this target and converting these mothers into loyal consumers the company is hoping they will introduce their children to Hershey’s candy.
  • Secondary research shows that adults eat more than 55% of all candies sold. The market is too big to be ignored. 

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target marketing to adults

Target marketing to adults does require candy companies to change the image of their products to fit the current market segments. The idea of market segmentation does apply in the case of candy products because candy products do not appeal to all consumers. Not only do the types of candy vary in relationship to which they companies want to market but the packaging and flavor also plays a role in that as well. There are also tasks that companies should complete when implementing market segmentation. The tasks are simply a process that divides the market into groups of similar consumers and selecting the most appropriate groups and individuals for the companies to serve. The tasks or steps in the process are:

1.      Analyze consumer-product relationships

2.      Investigate segmentation bases

3.      Develop product positioning

4.      Select segmentation strategy

5.      Design marketing mix strategy

The first step or task is important to the candy companies because it is important to understand the relationship between consumers and products in order to understand the environment and those involved in the consumer process. Once the candy company evaluates the environment they must then investigate the segmentation bases. In our example of candy companies, our segment will be adults versus the younger population. Determining the segmentation of the marketing process identifies useful categories in specific segments in which to target. In the case of candy companies Person/Situation segmentation will be the segment that the candy companies will focus, because they will be determining which particular people in which usage situations to market. Once the company has some idea of the basic segment, they company must then position the candy in relationship to its competitors.  There are many different ways to position candy products. In this case product will be positioned by a user, the adult user versus the younger or teenage user. Once the first three steps in the process have been completed the company may then determine which segmentation strategy to use. This will allow the company to determine whether the segment is large enough to sustain the product or if there is no viable market for the product. If the company decides that the strategy is a viable one, than the company cam implement and design a marketing mix strategy to implement for each of their individual segments.

target marketing

market segmentation

After going through the five steps in the market segmentation I have realized the following:

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Bite-size candies appeal to adults because the smaller size makes adults feel less guilty about indulging their sweet-tooth from time to time. This market segmentation is very important because many adults are health conscious, especially when compared to children, and feel like a regular-size candy bar is too much to eat in a day. Subconsciously, a consumer may feel that they are leading a healthier lifestyle even though they may eat the equivalent, or even more, than they would have if they had purchased a regular-size candy bar. In addition, it is also very likely-that the bite and snack size candies are viewed as a more portable alternative to a regular candy bar. This market segmentation could be seen as a popular feature because of the increasingly fast-paced and on-the-go lifestyle of the modern adult. The small size allows the consumer to keep the treats in a jar at home, the office, their car, or anywhere else where they might have the urge to grab a quick snack and then continue on with their everyday lives.

market segmentation

Thank you for reading my analysis on target marketing (specifically for the candy industry). If you enjoyed it please feel free to drop a comment (below), or check out my other recent articles on similar subjects

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Eric on November 02, 2014:

I enjoyed your analysis very much so, in particular with regards to the use bite-sized candies. I believe it also helps with the children market, as parents can buy smaller portions and feel like they are paying more attention to their children's consumption of candies.

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