Mars Wrigley Confectionery has learned that sweet treats are taking on a different role at major occasions throughout the year – all the way from Easter and Halloween to Chinese New Year.

“Shoppers are seeking alternatives for their celebrations where confectionery used to be the primary player,” said Susan Alfano, senior category manager/seasonal insights for the maker of M&Ms, Snickers and Skittles.

More specifically, many Hispanics and millennials are reshaping the meaning of traditional holidays, adopting new ones, and recasting the role of confectionery. Fully 20% of consumers, for example, build an Easter basket in non-traditional containers, with acculturated Hispanics (136) and millennials (122) overindexing on this measure.

“By 2020, millennials will represent over half of the US population,” Alfano said. “And, with each successive generation, we become a more multicultural society.

“It's really important for us to understand what the seasons mean to these cohorts and how they celebrate.”