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Innovation Interview: Brian Kavanagh, The Hershey Company

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In our Innovation Interview series, we recently caught up with Brian Kavanagh, Senior Director, IDP & Retail Evolution at The Hershey Company, who shared the biggest trends shaping the future, the key to innovation, and the future of food.


Here’s what he had to say:


What are the top 3 biggest global trends right now shaping the future?


Experience - People will continue to shop where they WANT to shop.  Traditional retailers must rethink their merchandise and communication strategies to provide an unique experience for shoppers, otherwise they risk losing shoppers to tasks that can be replaced by technology.

Technology - Technology will continue to speed the pace of change and provide shopping and product alternatives options for shoppers.  It is imperative that retailers test and learn quickly, but be careful not to get caught up in the newest “shiny penny”.  Solutions must be applicable to the specific challenge a retailer or their customer has- a win-win for both- not just a flagship solution or press grabbing headline.

Personalization - Putting technology and experience together provides opportunities for retailers and brands to further develop deep relationships with their relative shoppers.  Precision marketing, assortments, and even product can help drive shopper conversion and lasting, loyal relationships with their most important shoppers.

Why is disruption the key to innovation?

Kavanagh: Disruption is happening at an accelerated place in retail today and is presenting both opportunity and challenges for many of our retail partners.  Those with the desire to change and rethink the traditional retailing model, and acting the quickest, will be the ones capitalizing on the opportunity present in this unique time.  We feel every retail has the right to win, they just need to innovate.  The race is on.

Why does culture matter in the future of businesses?

Kavanagh: Despite the so called “demise of retail”, opportunities to shop are exploding and becoming more accessible.  People want to shop where they want, when they want, and how they want- both in physical retail and digital retail.  It’s becoming more important for all retailers to stand for something- a purpose, their community, their people to help differentiate them from the pack.

Where is the future of food headed 10 years from now?

Kavanagh: Food will still be an important part of our lives in 10 years, but sourcing and preparing our groceries will likely evolve.  Gone will be the days of ingredient shopping down every aisle of grocery and inevitably forgetting something.  This mundane and routine experience will be replaced with “meal shopping” where all the ingredients for a particular recipe, say meatloaf, will be placed in your basket (digital, not physical) at once- and you won’t forget the ketchup!

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