Zombie Skittles Thriller

Zombie Skittles Thriller

Preparing for Halloween is a two-year affair for Mars Wrigley.

To ensure a lucrative Halloween season, the candy maker devotes considerable time and resources to launch attractive, new products. Because buying candy tends to be an impulsive purchase the rest of the year, the recipe for a successful season is to extend it for several months and spark curiosity with mystery flavors.

Video Spotlight: Production of Skittles

This post is based on the CNN.com article, How the Maker of Skittles and M&Ms Gets Ready for Halloween, by D. Wiener-Bronner, October 30, 2019, and the YouTube video, How Skittles Are Madeby Food Insider, April 9, 2018. Image source: McGraw-Hill Education/David Planchet.

Discussion Questions:

1. How does Mars Wrigley make “old” Skittles new again for Halloween?

Guidance: Review the product life cycle stages. First introduced in the US in 1979, Skittles are a very mature product. To maintain interest in the product, Mars Wrigley slightly changed the design for Halloween and added Zombie Skittles to the usual rainbow. As planned, the odd flavor of the new Skittles piqued customers’ curiosity. The excitement translated into engagement on social media, which is essentially free publicity for the product.

2. Why does it take two years for a candy manufacturer to prepare for Halloween?

Guidance: There are many steps involved in creating and launching a new candy/flavor: marketing research, product design, taste testing, process changes, new packaging, advertising, and merchandising.

3. Describe the Skittles in terms of volume and variety. Based on your description, what type of process do you recommend for the production of Skittles?

Guidance: This is a very high volume, low variety product. Accordingly, the appropriate process is repetitive, and some may even describe it as nearly continuous.

4. Why does Mars Wrigley work closely with retailers?

Guidance: Because buying candy is often considered an impulse purchase, the trend toward online shopping threatens both brick-and-mortar retail and candy sales. In working closely with retailers during the Halloween season, the candy maker helps attract customers and boost sales of its own products. These customers will then buy other products at the retail stores. It is a win-win situation.


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