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Why Mars Wrigley Maintains a Laser Focus on Gen Z

Exec Mike Gilroy speaks with Progressive Grocer about innovating for the next generation
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer
Skittles Littles
Skittles Littles are among the latest products released by Mars Wrigley that appeal to the desires of Gen Z.

While Mars Wrigley has been on the scene for more than 100 years, that isn’t stopping the iconic company from growing, evolving and keeping a keen eye on the newest generation of consumers. At last week’s Sweets & Snacks Expo, Mike Gilroy, VP of trade development and sponsorship at Mars Wrigley, spoke with Progressive Grocer about how the company is strategically growing its portfolio, embracing nostalgia and staying laser focused on its customers, especially those in Gen Z.

Mars Wrigley unveiled a bevy of innovative new products at the Sweets & Snacks Expo, many of which were informed by customer data and consumer insights, as well as an overall desire to reach younger consumers and attract them to the brand.

“We're laser focused in terms of being consumer obsessed,” Gilroy explained. “And we're not just consumer obsessed, but we're also shopper focused and we're customer driven. What that means essentially is that we are scouring for all the data points and the insights both here domestically, but also as the global leader in confectionery, we are looking across the world for all those data points and insights, to best understand what consumers are buying, why they're buying it, and how they're buying.”

When it comes to Gen Z, Gilroy stressed that members of the group are incredibly experiential and purpose-driven, and appreciate authenticity. In terms of products, they’re seeking out different formats, different tastes and textures, and fun, nostalgic novelties. 

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Hubba Bubba Mini Gum
Hubba Bubba Mini Gum in Skittles Original Flavors was among the 2024 Most Innovative New Products at the Sweets & Snacks Expo.

With all of that in mind, Mars Wrigley has introduced several new takes on old favorites, including M&M’s Peanut Butter Megas and Peanut Butter Minis, as well as Skittles Littles, Hubba Bubba Mini Gum, and more. The company is also focusing on updating its Gen Z-favored gummy products, including Starburst Gummies and Skittles Gummies.

Another current focus for Mars Wrigley is the ever-resilient gum category, and its Hubba Bubba Mini Gum in Skittles Original Flavors was among the 2024 Most Innovative New Products at the Sweets & Snacks Expo. As Gilroy shared, that product embraces both the nostalgia and element of fun that today’s Gen Z consumers are seeking out. The company also expanded its Orbit White line with the new Sweet Mint flavor. 

Further, Mars Wrigley is differentiating itself through foodservice and ice cream, as well as its seasonal variety packs. Gilroy explained that the company is offering different bag formats and different price points on its variety bags in an effort to help consumers embrace more micro-moments and ways of sharing candy beyond traditional holidays.

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