HI-CHEW turns to DTC, pop-up experiences to engage Gen-Z consumers

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: HI-CHEW
Image Credit: HI-CHEW

Related tags Candy Direct to consumer Gen Z

Japanese candy brand HI-CHEW launched a direct-to-consumer (DTC) website as part of a broader strategy to appeal to Gen Z consumers, Joanne Hsu, senior brand marketing manager at Morinaga America, told FoodNavigator-USA.

HI-CHEW previously supported a DTC website where consumers could purchase products, and after hearing from its brand loyalists (the Chew Crew), the company re-launched the site. On the site, consumers can filter products from over 30 flavors and purchase flavors in either normal stand-up pouches, peg bags, small bags, and sticks.

New to the DTC site is a reward program where consumers who are part of the Chew Crew can earn points for branded merchandise, Hsu said. HI-CHEW will also use email marketing to share new production information and promotions for the DTC site, she added.

When asked about what the DTC store might means for its other e-commerce channels like Amazon, Hsu sees that both can co-exist, as Amazon offers a smaller range of SKUs and often in larger formats, and the DTC site has all the flavors and allows for smaller shipping quantities.

“Shelf space is very limited for every single brand, and our products are widely available across the countries. But when it comes to the SKUs, we might not have all the flavors available at one store near our consumers [are located]. So, this DTC site will be definitely a place for consumers... to get access to all the HI-CHEW products.”

Appealing to Gen Z consumers with Fortnite, pop-up candy shop experiences

The DTC store also was designed to resonate with Gen Z consumers, an increasingly important consumer base for the brand, Hsu noted.  

“[With] this new site, we tried to visualize a lot of things, including the history timelines of the brand," Hsu said. "Through visualizations and adopting more Gen Z-like color palettes on the site, we wanted to make the user experience more fun and more unique.”

The DTC site isn’t the only way that the brand has tried to engage Gen Z consumers in recent years. HI-CHEW also has sponsored sporting and e-sports events and opened limited-time pop-up candy shop, with the first location in New York being used to also promote the launch of HI-CHEW Bites​.

The company also launched the Fantasy Mix, a blend of its Blue Hawaii, Blue Raspberry, and Rainbow Sherbet candies, which was a flavor that has resonated with Gen Z consumers, Hsu noted.

“2022 was the year we launched the fantasy mix, ... [which became] really popular among Gen Z consumers,” Hsu said. “That's also the first flavor mix that we were able to introduce back to Japan, and now it's widely selling in Japan convenience stores.”

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