With Valentine’s Day behind us, we used our propriertary technology platform Commerce Intelligence to understand who was winning in the Candy & Chocolate Bars category (as defined by Amazon). We analyzed the Best Seller data from Amazon US across December, January and through Valentine’s Day to understand which brands beat the competition, what some of their winning strategies were and how brands looking to win in the category can get a leg up.
TOP RANKED BRANDS
In December, Ferrero Rocher took home the top spot, the most days throughout the course of the month with 15 times, while Hershey’s held the top spot 11 times. Interestingly, Hershey’s was leading starting on the 16th of the month through to Christmas Day. In January, Hershey’s claimed the top spot 18 times, and in December, Ferrero Rocher and Hershey’s held the top spots, but in the leadup into Valentine’s Day, Reese’s stole #1 for five days in a row.
When analyzing overall best sellers in the top 1-5 rank across the 2.5 month period in the chart below, Hershey’s and Ferrero Rocher fought for the top spot, securing a spot in the 1-5 Ranking 119 and 78 times, respectively.
For brands looking to enter the top Best Sellers, Commerce Intelligence’s Extract module can help increase visibility in search across retailers to beat the competition in search ranks, tailor retail SEO plans and ensure strong portfolio management. In this instance, we could run a report for each month to understand the variation opportunity score, which figures in keyword volumes, and whether there’s a change month over month. This could indicate higher interest around the various holidays and stay ahead of the algorithms.
Despite being in the Best Sellers rankings, when we dug into any major shifts in products for Hershey’s and Ferrero Rocher. Two examples of shifts in rank month over month are with the Ferrero Rocher Fine Hazelnut Milk Chocolate (B001E52ZQ2) and Hershey’s Kisses Candy Cane Mint Candy (B093HKDTFB). For Ferrero Rocher, this product was the 13th Best Seller in December, but dropped to 30th in January. For Hershey’s, it was the 3rd Best Seller in December and dropped to 17th the following month. There are several reasons this could be the case. For example, it appears that Ferrero changed the overall variations offered between the two months which impacted the overall star ratings available, which inevitably impacts the search rankings.
Commerce Intelligence’s Boost module helps brands understand the biggest growth drivers for each SKU to ensure resources are deployed in the most efficient way possible. Boost can help brands identify rank changes and pinpoint the cause. Is that because of decrease in promotions? Or an increase in price? Because of worse content? Boost can tell us the things that matter by harnessing variable optimizations that will drive business metrics, and deprioritize the ones that will not increase ranking and sales.
When looking at the top brand listed above – Hershey’s – the data shows that the chocolate company’s average price within its Best Sellers ranges from as low at $12.53 on 12/22 to as high as $20.88 on 2/11. Interestingly, the widest variations occur the same time period before the major holidays of Christmas and Valentine’s Day, but the pricing strategy clearly fluctuates drastically. This could be because Hershey’s knows it is in higher demand for Valentine’s Day and can charge accordingly, whereas chocolate is one of many itmes to purchase ahead of Christmas, versus a must-have choice for Valentine’s Day.
Digging more specifically into a single product, Hershey’s Kisses Candy 1lb bag (B015YEW72K), we saw that the price had a major spike the day after Christmas jumping from $8.00 to $12.99 on the 26th then down to $9.11 on the 27th. With such a rapid rise and fall, this often indicates a third party coming into play and adjusting your brand’s prices.
The above pricing shows us two learnings. The first is to know the seasonality of your brand and when your products are most desirable. The second is to understand and track third-party sellers to have the awareness when you’re losing the Buy Box. Commerce Intelligence has the capabilities to track and send notifications when the buy box is lost and develop a strategy to ensure your brand is always at the top of the search rankings.
We also dug into the data to see how frequently promotions were used across the best sellers listed above. The data below showcases how frequently a promotion was in use over the course of the month. For example, Hershey’s used promos 40% of the time in December, 8% in January and 22% in February.
Though not every best seller held the same promotions strategy, there are some clear trends that pop out. For example, many of these chocolate brands leaned most heavily into promotions in the month of February ahead of Valentine’s Day. Promotions were also heavy in December and the category tended to see a lull in January between the two major chocolate-buying holidays.
· Hershey’s – 40% in December, 8% in January, 22% in February
· Ferrero Rocher – 13% in December & January, 14% in February
· Mars - 13% in December, 57% in January, 12% in February
· The Madelaine Chocolate Company – Only 24% in December
· Choczero – Zero promotions
· Reese’s - 24% in December, 15% in January, 35% in February
· Godiva Chocolatier – 0% in December & January, 33% in February
The chocolate category is marked by moments and holidays that drive purchase and consumption. Understanding consumers’ intentions during these times is critical when competing in this highly competitive market.
The top variations we saw when looking at the Best Sellers included size, style, flavor and color. With many food products, quantity is often going to be one of the biggest factors before making a purchase. A family of 5 and a couple without children may want the same product but have different requirements for how much product they want to keep in their homes. Think about your target consumer and offer variations that appeal best to their lifestyles.
· Hershey’s – size, style, flavor
· Ferrero Rocher – size, style, color
· Mars - size
· The Madelaine Chocolate Company – No variations
· Choczero – flavor
· Reese’s - size, style
· Godiva Chocolatier – size, style
If you’re looking to play in the space, there’s a lot to learn from the winners in the category. With big moments like Easter and Mother’s Day just around the corner, these learnings and more can be taken into consideration when planning your strategy. To learn more about the Chocolate category or how Commerce Intelligence can help you win in your category, reach out to learn more.