The Evolution of Halloween Candy: Strategies and Success for Mars Wrigley

For the majority of the year, Tim LeBel holds the esteemed position of Mars Wrigley’s president of sales. However, for the month of October, LeBel wears a different hat as the chief Halloween officer. This unique role speaks to the significance of Halloween for candy manufacturers like Mars Wrigley. Over the years, Halloween has evolved from a single day to a three-month long season, signifying the immense impact it has on the candy industry. Hershey, Ferrero, and Mondelez are among the rival companies that embrace this extended Halloween period. With the National Retail Federation projecting an increase in consumer spending on Halloween candy, it is clear that this holiday continues to hold immense value even during challenging economic times.

Mars Wrigley remains a family-owned company that does not publicly disclose its financial results. However, it reported an impressive annual revenue of nearly $45 billion in 2021. While iconic candy brands such as M&M’s, Snickers, Three Musketeers, and Twix dominate their portfolio, Mars Wrigley’s product range extends beyond candy to include ice cream, chewing gum, and even pet food. This diverse product offering showcases the brand’s versatility and adaptability in meeting consumer demands.

Given the substantial impact Halloween has on Mars Wrigley’s business, the company engages in meticulous planning that begins two years in advance. During this initial phase, Tim LeBel collaborates with key retailers to identify emerging trends in flavors, packaging, and sustainability. The development and execution of these trends typically require a two-year timeline. This forward-thinking approach ensures that Mars Wrigley stays ahead of the game and delivers innovative products that resonate with consumers. The insights gained from these discussions shape the direction of the company’s offerings, manifesting in products that enter the market two years later.

The postmortem stage of planning occurs within the three weeks following Halloween. Mars Wrigley sits down with retailers to evaluate the performance of their candies and gather feedback. They identify any items that may have fallen short in terms of production, as well as those that may have gone off-trend. This critical self-reflection enables the company to adapt and refine its strategies for future Halloween seasons. By understanding which products resonated with consumers and which did not, Mars Wrigley can pivot its plans and cater to evolving preferences.

To keep Halloween exciting, Mars Wrigley continually introduces new products to captivate consumers. This year, they have a few tricks up their sleeve, such as Skittles Shriekers. These bags contain classic Skittles mixed with a few sour-flavored ones that visually appear identical to the rest. Mars Wrigley also recognizes the growing significance of online shopping and has collaborated with digital convenience store goPuff. This partnership ensures that everyone can effortlessly access their favorite Mars candy, even at the last minute. By visiting, consumers can receive a free delivery of Mars candy within an hour, subject to availability.

Amidst the continuous innovation, Mars Wrigley remains dedicated to preserving the classics. Snickers bars remain one of their best-selling Halloween candies, second only to Hershey’s Reese’s cups. Moreover, three of Mars Wrigley’s variety bags have secured spots in the top 10 list of most popular assortments. While the company embraces new trends and flavors, they understand the timeless appeal of their classic offerings.

Mars Wrigley recognizes the pivotal role of retailers in their Halloween strategy. By fostering strong partnerships, they ensure that their portfolio remains prominently displayed from August through October. This extended visibility enables Mars Wrigley to capture multiple consumer occasions, including back-to-school shopping, spooky movie nights, and, of course, the tradition of trick-or-treating. Tim LeBel emphasizes the importance of fluid collaboration with retailers, as their insights guide the company’s plans for the subsequent Halloween season. By acting swiftly, Mars Wrigley can prepare well in advance, ensuring that they are fully equipped to meet the demands of last-minute shoppers.

Mars Wrigley’s meticulous planning and unwavering commitment to delivering quality products have paid off. This year, the company has exceeded its production targets, leaving them with a surplus of candy even after Halloween. Tim LeBel proudly states that their warehouses are fully stocked and ready to ship. This success validates Mars Wrigley’s dedication to innovation, constant adaptation, and collaboration with retailers.

As Halloween continues to evolve into a three-month extravaganza, Mars Wrigley has positioned itself as a leader in the candy industry. Through careful planning, adaptability, and consistent delivery of both new and classic products, the company remains poised to meet the ever-changing demands of Halloween enthusiasts. With their eye on the future, Mars Wrigley is set to conquer many more Halloween seasons to come.


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