Mars Chocolate adds a man’s head to its vending machine

Written by By Camille LaSalle, CNN We are talking chocolate milk with the most unlikely chocolate between it and your tongue — a man! In the race to get more coffee at home, the…

Mars Chocolate adds a man's head to its vending machine

Written by By Camille LaSalle, CNN

We are talking chocolate milk with the most unlikely chocolate between it and your tongue — a man!

In the race to get more coffee at home, the company behind Smartwater and Smartpulse has announced plans to send a 2-foot-tall, three-headed Coca-Cola vending machine across the United States by the end of the year.

What will the polar bears have to say about that?

For the Mars Chocolate Company, it’s a sweet tale of success. The company has already embraced Disney and Star Wars and expects a big boost from its latest strategy to push coffee in lieu of energy drinks, chocolate and soft drinks in the US.

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Mars, which leads both spirits and candy makers in sales in the world of drinks and snacks, is updating its flagship flavors — Oreo and M&M’s — to fewer caffeine than previous versions. It’s also more strongly linked to coffee in stores, and has “quick” business meetings while it’s in the midst of changing coffee to the new recipes.

Mars Chocolate’s president and CEO, Jeffrey Harmening, had another surprise for investors: For the first time, Mars will be offering ice cream parfaits in the US in the first half of 2019.

“We are going to introduce new ice cream flavors … like we have with beverages,” Harmening said during a conference call. “A little more sugar (and) we are now increasing our ice cream mix one day a week.”

The company will also be having an event and announcing its new flavors in the coming weeks, Harmening said.

The continued success of coffee

For the Mars chocolate company, Mars Chocolate has had the opportunity to ramp up its vision of coexistence.

“We are growing from what had been predominantly a coffee growth story,” Harmening said.

Coffee consumption is always growing — and in the Americas it’s growing 25% and 33% in chocolate versus the category as a whole, he said.

The company has been facing its first major competitive challenge since entering the category, as competitors like Nestle, JAB and others try to follow its footsteps into the domestic market with coffee-based snacks, according to analyst Wendy Nicholson.

It has been slowing over the last two quarters, and right now it’s looking more like stagnant growth, she said.

“The difficulty for Mars is trying to find what is the next natural hurdle — either in the coffee or the confectionery category — which could help unlock more rapid growth,” she said.

Mars said a big part of its business is still on the dairy business, which has been weaker than it would have liked it to be. It’s working to reduce its dairy dependence and is looking for other ways to find growth.

While it is optimistic about its ability to continue to innovate and grow, Harmening said he isn’t “rethinking what are the things that we do really well and doing them more often.”

Plans for expansion

The Mars chocolate company continues to look for ways to expand its business.

“We are really looking forward to investing in this digital space,” Harmening said.

In the previous quarter, Mars released two Facebook Messenger apps: SmartCoffee and SmartBreakfast. It’s now partnering with Facebook to expand the reach of that.

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