Furnishing the treats for Halloween can be tricky, even at the best of times. It’s even trickier during the pandemic, says the head of U.S. sales for Mars Wrigley.
The company starts planning for Halloween about two years out, but it was impossible to plan for the disruptions of the pandemic, Tim LeBel said in a podcast for Ad Age. LeBel is president of sales for Mars Wrigley U.S. and also holds the title of chief Halloween officer.
LeBel said that Mars’ retail partners vary, by market, in their sense of how “normal” this Halloween will be. One of the biggest questions, of course, is whether trick-or-treating and Halloween parties will take place as usual. Alternatives include “trunk-or-treating,” in which a group of parents park on one spot and make candy available out of their (sometimes decorated) car trunks.
LeBel said some of the alternatives that Mars is eyeing include a virtual Halloween hub with online trick-or-treating and games. Mars plans to bring back Skittles Zombies and Halloween packaging for M&Ms and other products.
Easter, the last big candy holiday during the pandemic, saw sales drop 4.1% vs. 2019, according to the National Confectioners Association. LeBel told Ad Age that Mars had more Easter candy in retail stores than it needed, but not enough online.
“We were out of product when it mattered most with key retailers,” he said.