Oh Henry! introduces gamer-friendly chocolate bar

Oh headshot? Oh Henry! Hershey Canada’s famous chocolate bar has found a new call of duty in its ongoing war against hunger: feeding hungry video gamers.

The brand has made a new addition to its product portfolio called Oh Henry! Level Up. It’s Oh Henry!’s second foray into the specialty product arena, following the 2018 launch of its 4:25 bar specifically aimed at cannabis users.

Combining pretzels, peanuts, caramel and chocolate coating, the Level Up bar is part of the brand’s ongoing strategy of being what marketing manager Alejandro Mosquera called “The hunger authority” among millennials.

Part of that strategy is innovating around the various “hunger need states” that are relevant for a particular cohort. “[W]e are expanding into the gaming snacking occasion… prioritizing creativity and authenticity as the common essence of our plans,” he said.

Unlike the 4:25 bar, which was a limited-time product, the Level Up bar is a permanent addition to the Oh Henry! lineup and Hershey plans to produce more than four million Level Up bars into 2021. Mosquera said that could lead it to sell “more than 10 times the number of units” that 4:25 did.

Hershey launched the Level Up bar with a code inside the wrapper that provides an in-game boost for the popular NBA 2K21 video game. Working with agency partners Anomaly and UM, Hershey has also partnered with influencers on the streaming service Twitch, and is promoting the bar through in-store merchandising.

Gaming enthusiasts could potentially be a significant sales channel for the brand, with the sector growing in popularity as more homebound Canadians pick up controllers. Even before the pandemic, more than two-thirds of Canadians identified as gamers, spending an average of 10 hours per week playing.

Recent research from NewZoo, meanwhile, found that 80% of gamers consume food or drink products while playing, with salty snacks having an edge over sweet when it comes to preferences (there’s no research around products that combine the two). “If we want to be connecting with the millennial and Gen Z audiences, we need to be where they are. And they are gaming,” said Mosquera in an email interview.

While brands like Doritos and Mountain Dew have established strong ties to gaming, Mosquera said that its research showed gamers wanted a particular type of snack: filling but easy to eat, and containing a salty ingredient such as peanuts. They didn’t want chips, the research found, because the oil they contain can make gaming controllers greasy.

“[W]e decided to launch something that was specifically tailored to do both jobs,” said Mosquera. “One, deliver a delicious chocolate bar with a bold combination of textures and flavours that could help them recharge, and two, a gaming reward that would ‘level up’ their game.”

The Newzoo research also found that nearly one-quarter of North American men—and 10% of women—also drink beer when gaming. Can Oh Hops! be far behind?

Chris Powell