One of America's most popular chocolate brands is unveiling three new products, making a push for the Chinese market.
Pennsylvania-based Hershey (NYSE: HSY) has made its mark in the U.S. building a sweet empire of chocolate and candy that even includes a theme park. But CEO John Bilbrey has his sights set on international expansion into China, a nation with 1.3 billion people who could possibly take a liking to Hershey chocolate.
According to local Lancaster news, while Hershey's signature Kisses have already gained success in China and other parts of Asia, Hershey is focusing on China specifically in launching the "Lancaster" chocolate brand, named after the company's hometown. The company has been researching the taste buds of Chinese consumers, creating three new kinds of chocolate milk candies. The Lancaster-brand candies will be introduced to three second-tier cities, Wuhan, Hangzhou and Chengdu, in June as a test.
Company executives say previous consumer tests for the candy have been very successful and are looking forward to releasing the candies to mainstream Chinese. Hershey says the shift toward China will help meet its goal of $10 billion in worldwide net sales by 2017.
In an interview with Forbes, Hershey's senior vice president and chief growth officer, Michele Buck, talked about just how much of a priority China has become. "China is the No. 1 market, which means it will get every dollar it needs to grow as fast as it possibly can and then everybody else will get dollars."
And China has proven to be a welcoming destination for the confections.
"We know that confectionary consumption correlates with the move of those consumers into the middle class because they have the affordability to participate," Buck told Forbes. "We put the biggest bet on China because we believe we've got an infrastructure in place there that's strong."