The Future of Retail Design is Sweet

More than 800 companies exhibited both real candy and eye candy in the 2017 Sweets & Snacks Expo held on May 23rd through the 25th at Chicago's McCormick Place. The annual show is hosted by the National Confectioners Association who featured candy and snack products in an array of eye-catching displays and technology innovations.

"The United States has well-established distribution channels for all types of retail companies. The retail services industry provides an openly competitive environment that fosters strong business operations and spurs innovations that increase efficiency and reliability." The confectionery industry, a subsector of the retail industry, accounts for $35 billion in retail sales, including $2 billion in exports, and more than $7 billion in seasonal candy sales. They have a significant contribution to the economy through the direct employment of 55,000 people in the US and supports more than 400,000 jobs in agriculture, retail, transportation, and other industries. In Illinois, one of the top 5 confectionery-producing States,  there are more than 100 confectionery manufacturers who produce $2.96 billion worth of confectionery shipments each year.

The industry is also at the cutting edge of innovation and retail design. "Several exhibitors have taken advantage of the platform Innovation Avenue provides to launch successful products," commented Barry Rosenbaum, Expo chairman and president of Nassau Candy Distributors, Inc. "Having the highest number of Innovation Avenue exhibitors since its inception is further proof that the candy and snack categories continue to be on the forefront of innovation."

Hershey Company's vision for the Store of the Future leverages the Experience Economy, a main underpinning for customer experience management, and popularized by the Tech industry. Medley is a concept store for Hershey Company that illustrates its design aspects.

(Video by Progressive Grocer, featuring Brian Cavanagh of the Hershey Company.)

Here's a scale model of a Store of the Future using a converted shipping container that allows consumers to access the store whenever they want and where ever they want it. The shopping experience becomes an exploration that allows them to purchase products without walking through long aisles. This unique approach is a departure from the typical big-box retail design.


Meanwhile, Wrigley, has embraced the aisle design to give a better experience that works for their consumers through category management.

(Video by Progressive Grocer, featuring Tiffany Menyhart of Wrigley.)

A visit to this show won't be complete without a tour of the more than 4 acres of candy on exhibit at the Expo floor. Here's a collection of some of the things that were both candy and eye candy for me mainly because of some striking design element in them: View post on


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