The ingredients for “egg-cellent” Easter innovation

Isa Franzini, Janine Klimko & Kelsey Sullivan

Spring is here, and you know what that means! Warmer weather and flowers in bloom of course, but for some of you it also means Easter is just around the corner.  

No matter what holiday you celebrate, Easter presents a huge opportunity for CPG brands. Seasonal or limited-edition products launched in key moments can be a great way to increase brand awareness and ultimately drive incremental sales. But not all limited-time products are a hit.

Just as we did during the winter holiday season and Halloween last year, we researched 14 Easter products (from chocolate, cereal, and non-chocolate candy categories) selling in the US in 2024 with our advanced concept testing solution, Activate It, to understand their potential based on consumer feedback.

We’ll cover three of our main takeaways from the research here, but check out our ebook for the full analysis.

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1. Seasonally relevant enhancements continue to win

As in previous seasons, we continue to see the success of ‘enhanced core products’ — everyday products with an Easter twist such as themed-packaging, seasonal shapes, etc. 

For this analysis, we looked at several products that can be considered “enhanced core products” — both returning products from previous years and brand-new launches:

  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs (Reese’s traditional peanut butter cups, shaped like eggs)

  • Reese’s Mini Eggs (a mini version of the egg-shaped Reese’s cups)

  • M&M’s Pastel Peanut Butter Eggs (traditional M&Ms in spring colors)

  • Lindt Gold Bunny

  • Sour Patch Kids Bunnies (traditional Sour Patch Kids candy, shaped like bunnies)

  • Kinder Bueno Eggs (traditional Kinder Bueno chocolate, shaped like eggs)

  • Hershey’s Polka Dot Cookies ‘n’ Creme Bunnies (traditional cookies ‘n’ creme Hersheys chocolate, shaped like bunnies and featuring pastel colors)

  • Reese’s Puffs Bunnies (traditional Reese’s Puffs, shaped like bunnies)

Six out of eight of these enhanced core products scored higher than the US food norm on purchase likelihood.

It goes to show that less is more! By maintaining the core product, particularly in taste, and making relevant changes to the packaging and product appearance, there is significantly less risk of losing out on appeal.

But it’s important to remember that adding seasonal cues — such as egg or bunny shapes or pastel colors — works best if consumers see a connection or fit to the brand or original product.

2. New flavors are distinctive, but can be polarizing

As part of this analysis we looked at three products with new flavors: 

  • M&Ms Easter Sundae (which the brand describes as offering “creamy notes of vanilla ice cream and hot fudge, topped with a light cherry flavor”)

  • KitKat Lemon Crisp (a lemon-flavored KitKat bar)

  • Lindt Easter Truffles (strawberry and blueberry flavored chocolate truffles)

All the new flavors we looked at significantly outperformed the US food norm in our differentiation metric.

But proceed with caution, because new flavors can often be very polarizing. While M&M’s Easter Sunday and Lindt Lindor Easter Truffles both also score above the norm on purchase likelihood, Kit Kat Lemon Crisp scores significantly under — because lemon is not a universally loved flavor.

It’s also worth noting that unlike other holidays and seasons, Easter doesn’t have a defined portfolio of characteristic flavors. 

There’s a huge opportunity for brands to establish Easter flavors that consumers can associate with the holiday year upon year.

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3. Chocolate reigns supreme

Unsurprisingly, the Easter season is dominated by chocolate, which can make it hard for non-chocolate products to associate with the season.

But it’s not impossible! Indulgence categories still have an opportunity to play during the season, which we saw with Sour Patch Kids Bunnies in this analysis which scored above the norm in purchase likelihood.

One respondent said “I like that they are shaped like bunnies for Easter. I like that they could be put in Easter baskets for kids and they are not made of chocolate. I like that they are sour then turn sweet. What a great treat."

Once again in this case, a minor product enhancement to associate with the holiday (the bunny shape) succeeds. 

But for even a minor product enhancement to work, it’s important that consumers see the category and brand as relevant to Easter. 

For example, candy has a greater connection to Easter than cereal. While Reese’s has been a strong performer across all holidays we explored, Reese’s Puffs Bunnies cereal scored significantly under the norm on purchase intent, with only 37% of people saying they would be likely to buy it vs the US food norm of 58%.  

Wrapping up

Hopefully these learnings can help you crack your Easter innovation next year. Check out our ebook for more in-depth data and analysis on what makes a winning Easter innovation.

Ebook: The ingredients for “egg-cellent” Easter innovation

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