Last year was the first COVID-19 Halloween, and there were a lot of questions about how consumers would celebrate amid a pandemic.

But consumers are resilient, said Clark Boyer, senior manager, OPM Fall & Occasions, Hershey, in a new corporate blog post.

“[They] find new and complementary ways to celebrate the season they love,” he explained. “When faced with uncertain times, we saw people get creative. Instead of traditional trick-or-treating, many families baked cookies and cakes, celebrated Halloween movie marathons, decorated their houses and yards, and embarked on candy scavenger hunts.”

All those celebrations ended up giving Hershey its biggest Halloween ever, Boyer said. And the company expects many of those new traditions to continue this year.

“In our research, consumers are telling us that many of the emerging occasions that they found in 2020 will stick around in 2021,” he explained. “As people embrace these new rituals and traditions, I have to say that I am fully on board with extending the Halloween season from one night to a celebration that lasts throughout the fall.”

Hershey also is doing its part to help consumers celebrate. And yes, the company is starting in August.

“This year, we are all overdue for that creativity, that imagination, that fun. And as consumers’ minds start turning to Halloween in August or September, my team is here to help them go all in,” Boyer said. “We are leaning in with even more Hershey displays and stands in retail stores, helping amplify the excitement of Halloween with consumers and to make it easier than ever to find items such as Reese’s, Kit Kat and Hershey's — three of the most beloved Halloween candies year after year.” 

The company also is focusing heavily on its omnichannel presence.

“2020 was the year of online shopping and online ordering, and we expect that to continue for many,” he said. “We’re making sure that when consumers are browsing online, as well as in stores, they can see the top-selling packs and products when they need them and for the occasions that they need them.”

Boyer explained that Hershey’s research shows that early-season shoppers, who tend to purchase treats for themselves and family, spend almost twice as much throughout the season on candy as late-season shoppers only, who focus primarily on purchasing trick-or-treat candy.

Consumers also will find a variety of their favorite treats in new formats this year.

“I’m most excited about our expansion of Reese’s peanut butter pumpkins, bats, and ghosts across new packs and price points – perfect for families or friends to share,” Boyer said. “We’re also unveiling new assortment ‘Lovers’ packs that feature multiple varietal offerings within different flavor offerings. These include offerings such as Caramel Lovers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Lovers, and Kit Kat Lovers.”

Boyer said he loves to see the joy Hershey helps bring to Halloween.

“In the last year and a half, I’ve also seen how resilient my co-workers are. Together, we watched, with honor, as consumers chose, time and again, our chocolate, baking products and s’mores for comfort during an impossibly stressful time,” he said. “It meant the world to us, and I’ve seen that pride shining through on our production lines, in our retail sales force stocking stores, and at every level of the company. I feel it, myself, as well. Feeling our sense of purpose of making more moments of goodness has really rallied our team.”