Industry Insights

Hershey and Uber spread the (brand) love


Innovation or bust.  At least that’s what it seems like nowadays.

Spreading the Love, on an Uber Level

This may be old news, but I recently read of a partnership that Uber has been exploring with The Hershey Company.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The ride-sharing platform has become a distributor of chocolate.

Before I came on board with IBM, I worked in an advertising agency in downtown Austin, Texas. On occasion, I seem to remember Uber partnering with local animal shelters in promotions that let you spend $30 to hang out with a kitten for 15 minutes.  I remember admiring this innovative use of the taxi platform to promote local nonprofits in the Austin area.

Apparently Uber didn’t draw the line with kittens and nonprofits and is now working with everyone’s favorite chocolatier to share love around cities via Hershey Kisses.  The partnership first launched efforts in Mexico on Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day — two key dates that sold as much Kisses candy in Mexico as did Walmart Mexico during the same times.

Additionally, the campaign generated a ridiculous amount of social media buzz — within those 8 hours, 40 percent of all Twitter users in Mexico mentioned the promotion in some form or fashion.  Wow.

Following the success of those unique promotions, Uber + The Hershey Company has decided to attempt replicating their success in the United States.  Retailers and chocolate manufacturers beware — it may be time to modify your distribution model.

Disruptor Fatigue: The Struggle is Real

By this point, you’re not doubt tired of hearing about disruptors.  Disruptor this, disrupting that. Yada yada yada.

But it’s in moments like this where disruption really hits home, right?  Uber wasn’t satisfied merely disrupting the Transportation Industry, so it decided to break down the walls separating it from the Retail and Consumer Products Industries.

We could spend the next three decades hating on Uber, but let’s give credit where credit is due — in this situation, The Hershey Company took a risk by thinking outside of its comfort zone and reaped the benefits in the end.  In order to really stand out from other brands, other consumer products companies may need to follow like suit — instead of merely stocking shelves with your product, you can also wow consumers with your brand by taking risks.

In my opinion, there’s a difference between wise, calculated risks and unwise, unfounded risks.  Good risk always starts with knowing your consumer, and with the wealth of data available today, there’s no sense in not employing tools to use this untapped resources.  One of these tools could be cognitive computing.

In a recent study done by the Institute of Business Value (IBV), 74 percent of CP execs attested that creating a compelling brand experience was a top priority, but only 15 percent admitted to being effective at this.  In another study by the IBV, 98 percent of CP executives who were familiar with cognitive computing said that they intended to invest in cognitive in the future.  Cognitive could be the key to unlocking these brand experiences.

According to the former of the two studies, only 25 percent of CP executives mentioned being ready for digital disruption — a startling fact, especially considering this Hershey + Uber partnership.  The good news?  There’s tremendous room for innovation.

Let’s consider Hershey and Uber and think about ways that we can show up differently.  New, innovative ideas both help CP companies remain afloat and, frankly, make the world a more enjoyable place to live in.

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