Mars Wrigley Uses Data to Drive Impulse Purchases

A successful project with Kum & Go reimagined store layouts to lift candy sales.

June 24, 2021

Mars Candy Factory Line

McLEAN, Va.—Mars Wrigley yesterday unveiled its new Accelerating Impulse Moments (AIM) insights platform to “shape impulse throughout the shopper journey and provide an effective retail experience, be it at curbside pick-up, online or in-store,” the company said. The platform incorporates test-and-learn results and new data on consumer behavior to customize impulse shopping solutions for retail partners.

The McLean, Va.-based company recently wrapped up its first in-market test-and-learn of its Innovative Merchandising Incubator, introduced in 2019 with c-store partner Kum & Go, based in Des Moines, Iowa.

The partnership reimagined the store layout, which not only triggered confectionery purchases but also purchases of products in adjacent categories as well, ultimately delivered strong results and growth, the candy maker said.

“Though the way people shop and interact with our category is evolving, we’re more committed than ever to connecting with our consumers and delivering relevant, innovative new products,” said Tim LeBel, president of sales at Mars Wrigley.

Candy is the No. 1 impulse item purchased within a convenience store, according to NACS data. Candy continued to be a powerhouse performer in the convenience channel last year, grabbing 2.95% of in-store sales and 4.34% of in-store gross margin contribution, according to NACS SOI data for 2020.

Mars Wrigley said it will work closely with retail partners to implement solutions that reimagine impulse at checkout and identify new spaces in aisle and digitally to optimize category presence and drive conversion.

The four-pillar AIM platform consists of conversion strategies for retailers across all channels in stores and online, with Snacks Aisle Optimization, Secondary Display Growth, Transaction Zone Reinvention and Digital Solutions Execution. These strategies will help retailers shape impulse throughout the shopper journey to create an effective and engaging omnichannel experience, Mars Wrigley said.

Digital Ad Testing Tool

To enhance its marketing personalization efforts, the company is using a new tool called Agile Creative Expertise (ACE) to track up to 150 different emotional and behavioral reactions to its digital ads, according to Business Insider.

The proprietary technology relies on EEG, biometrics and eye tracking—along with artificial intelligence—to measure consumer actions, such as how long they watch a video ad and how their attention changes as they watch.

ACE then grades the ads, giving them from one to four stars based on criteria such as how much emotion and attention they elicit. Four stars represents exceptional engagement. ACE helps ensure that these attention and emotion levels drive sales based on Mars’ internal benchmarks, which were developed with partners including Nielsen, YouTube TrueView and Realeyes.

"We are firm believers that emotional responses drive brand recognition and memory structures, and we wanted to understand how consumers behave and how they think, both consciously and unconsciously," Sorin Patilinet, global marketing insights director, Mars, told  Business Insider. “But we're also very focused on sales, and ACE is helping us with that."

Initially, ACE tested ad creative using in-person consumer panels, but during the pandemic, Mars allowed people to participate in testing via their computers or mobile phones. ACE was used to analyze more than 450 pieces of content in 2020, its first year, and Mars aims to surpass 1,000 videos in 2021, Business Insider said.

Patilinet said that neuromarketing has only been used to test ads' creative and not when the ads are running. "The industry is moving toward recognizing the importance of overt attention as a measure of quality of the impression, but we're still some time away from full acceptance," he said. "Maybe one day we'll also be able to measure people's reactions to TikTok ads in the native app environment."

For more insight into the power of strong marketing techniques, read “Marketing in an Era of Meaningful Media” in NACS Magazine.