Hershey’s iconic Kisses Chocolate launch in India leads charge into chocolate category

image-Hersheys-logoAfter intensive consumer testing and product development, global snacking giant and the largest producer of quality chocolates in North America, Hershey’s, has made a strategic entry into the large chocolate category in India — with its iconic brand, Hershey’s Kisses Chocolate. The very same brand  of which 70 million pieces are made every day, and sold in nearly 60 countries.

Steven Schiller – President, International, The Hershey Company; Michele Buck – President and CEO, The Hershey Company, and Herjit Bhalla – MD, Hershey India, at the launch of Hershey’s Kisses

Hershey’s India Pvt Ltd launched the much loved chocolate in three varieties – Milk chocolate, Almonds, and Cookies ’n’ Creme in Mumbai today. The chocolates are made in India, in Gujarat, to Hershey’s stringent global standards of quality control.

During the first phase of the launch, Hershey’s Kisses will be available only in South India in Modern Trade, Large General Trade and E-Com at attractive price points of Rs 50 for the small pack of 36g, and Rs 140 for a larger, take-home pack at Rs 140 for 108g.

The Hershey’s Kisses Chocolate launch is perhaps the most iconic brand of chocolate launched in India, after Mars launched its M&Ms in August 2017, targeting the small but quickly growing bite-sized chocolate category

The Hershey’s Kisses range in India is the result of intensive R&D and consumer testing to develop the right taste profile for discerning Indian consumers who seek premium chocolate.  Hershey’s Kisses chocolates are distinct because of their unique shape and for delicate wrapping.

Hershey makes nearly 70 million Hershey’s Kisses every day that are sold in nearly 60 countries

Consumers in India can enjoy Hershey’s Kisses in three exciting variants: The all-time classic creamy Milk Chocolate, the popular Almonds – which has creamy milk chocolate and real almond bits, and the unique Cookies ’n’ Creme flavour – which has creamy white chocolate with enticing cookie bits.

Michele Buck, President and CEO –  The Hershey Company, who flew down for the launch, said, “The Hershey Company has a rich chocolate heritage and we have built our expertise over the past 125 years. Hershey’s Kisses is one of our most iconic chocolate treats and a symbol of how our company has spread its goodness around the world.”

Image-Steven Schiller, President, International, The Hershey CompanyOn the importance of the Indian market, Steven Schiller, President, International, The Hershey Company, said, “There is a lot of potential for The Hershey Company in India. This market is an important part of our International growth model. The Hershey’s brand has been leading our India growth and Hershey’s Kisses is a wonderful way to continue that growth by tapping into the growing chocolate segment.”

Image-Herjit S Bhalla - MD India - The Hershey CompanyHerjit Bhalla, MD – Hershey India, said, “We are delighted that consumers are increasingly loving the Hershey’s range of products – be it Hershey’s Syrups, Spreads, Milk Shakes or Cocoa Powder. I am very excited about Hershey’s strategic entry into the large chocolate category with Hershey’s Kisses. We know from our intensive consumer testing and product development that Indian consumers will love Hershey’s Kisses, and I am sure Hershey’s will now spread smiles and happiness to many more homes.”

Hershey’s India journey

The journey of the Hershey’s brand in India started a decade ago with the introduction of the Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup.  Today, Hershey’s is a clear market leader in Chocolate Syrups and Cocoa Powder. Its products in Milk Shake and Chocolate Spreads were so well received by consumers that they have raced to claim the No. 2 (Chocolate Spreads) and No.3 (Milk Shakes) spots amongst the best known chocolate brands in India, and that too, within just two years of launch.

The launch of Hershey’s Kisses should further fuel the growth of the Hershey’s brand in India. And incidentally, The Hershey Company brings almost 125 years of chocolate-making experience to the launch of Hershey’s Kisses in India. Today, it is a Fortune 500 company with world-class manufacturing expertise and innovation capabilities to deliver great tasting chocolates. The company makes nearly 70 million Hershey’s Kisses every day that are sold in nearly 60 countries.

Hershey has approximately 17,000 employees and more than 80 brands around the world that drive more than $7.5 billion in annual revenues, including such iconic brand names as Hershey’s, Reese’s, Kit Kat, Jolly Rancher, Ice Breakers and SkinnyPop.

India Chocolate Market Insights

The India Chocolate market is expected to reach USD 5.01 billion by 2023, witnessing a robust CAGR during the forecast period. Chocolate consumption volume in the region surpassed 193 million Kg in 2017, with Moulded Chocolate registered the largest volume sale.

The Hershey’s brand has been leading our India growth and Hershey’s Kisses is a wonderful way to continue that growth by tapping into the growing chocolate segment: Steven Schiller, President, International, The Hershey Company

Rising per capita income and westernization trend is the key driver for the market, says an indepth report from Mordor Intelligence (available here, and quoted extensively in this overview). Expanding retail channel and impulse purchase are further driving the market. Growing demand for premium varieties gives a potential opportunity for foreign brands to tap the market.

Premium Chocolates are gaining popularity in India, and the rising demand for premium and dark chocolate is as a result of growing affluent middle-class purchasing power coupled with marketing and promotional activities triggered the chocolate demand.

Consumer demand for high cocoa content in chocolate and consumer awareness related to cocoa benefits are driving the dark chocolate market.

Moulded chocolate dominates the Indian chocolate retail sale followed by countlines.

The sale of boxed assortment is growing at a faster pace driven by increased in occasional gifting trend. Heavy price and discount offered at supermarkets / hypermarkets and healthy eating habits are another factor boosted sales.

Booming Online Retail

Online shopping that provides exciting offers and brands is attracting Indians. There is a strong appeal for imported goods in India that are widely available in online channels eliminating the need for physical stores.

Growing new internet user population in tier-II & tier-III cities offers a promising growth in the rural areas. Convenience, ease of searching, billing, wide selection of products and discounts and promotion fueled the online chocolate sale. Online retail recorded an impressive CAGR of 57.9% during 2012-2017.

Convenience Stores led the sale with a share of more than 70% in the distribution channel. Expanding retail chain in the country offer a potential growth opportunity to the market. Supermarkets and Hypermarkets is another growing retail channel in India.

The India Chocolate market is lucrative and fiercely competitive, with top five multinational players accounting for the major share. These are Mondelez International Inc, The Hershey Company,  Mars Inc., Ferrero, Nestle SA and Lindt & Sprüngli Ag.

Seeing that The Hershey Company has made a well-timed move at festive-season-eve  and with its truly iconic Kisses brand to grab a significant piece of the chocolate category in India, one is inclined to believe that Hershey’s Kisses will find cholocate lovers puckering up, and will grab a decent share of the market. How big, depends upon how  quickly after its first phase launch in South India, Hershey’s Kisses can start flying off the shelves to woo chocolate lovers across the rest of the country.

One sees sweet times ahead.

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