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Deck the shelves

The media may be full of messages encouraging us to cut down on sugar but you can bet your life that most households will be tucking into their favourite tin of twistwrap chocolates this Christmas. At this time of year, go into any grocery multiple and you'll likely have to fight your way past the stacks of chocolates on sale for a fiver. It doesn't seem to matter how many they stock, they always seem to sell out. People buy them for Christmas but oftentimes eat them well before then, then have to buy more and may come to you looking for some.

The growth of the Christmas confectionery category is illustrated by confectionery wholesaler Hancocks reporting a 45% uplift in Christmas sales from 2014 to 2015. The company recommends that independent retailers start building their Christmas displays immediately following the busy Halloween trading period at the end of this month. However, confectionery giant Mondelez recommends retailers start now to capitalise on impulse sales. The company says shoppers are looking to buy a festive treat for themselves and their family to build excitement in the run-up to Christmas. And it adds that these products help to signpost the Christmas season.

Nestlé reports that in 2015 seasonal impulse sales grew by 3.7% to £22.1m, with strong sales in both the early and late parts of the season driving this growth. The company says the earlier part is particularly important as seasonal impulse sales at this time are incremental to core confectionery.

Hancocks advises that from late November, retailers should create window displays as well as add gift ranges to their offering items such as plush toys with sweets, edible Christmas decorations and chocolate Santas which can make excellent Secret Santa gifts for office parties. The company says last-minute stocking filler suggestions positioned near the till, on gondola ends and in window displays can help add to the excitement and theatre in-store and drive incremental sales in the last few days running up to Christmas Eve.

Meanwhile, there's no doubting the huge role that Mondelez International plays at Christmas in the UK, boasting a 29.4% share of the total market, 49% of the UK selection box market, as well as having the UK's number one advent calendar, the UK's best selling Christmas novelty and the number one selection box within its range (Nielsen data).

Last year Mondelez says its Cadbury brand delivered its biggest and most successful campaign ever with 'Cadvent', which saw 24 events take place across the country in the 'ultimate advent countdown'. The campaign returns for 2016 backed by a £10m spend.

In addition, Cadbury is giving consumers in the convenience channel the chance to win £500 with a new scratchcard competition. Consumers have to buy three Cadbury products to receive a scratchcard and if three Santas are revealed on their card, they will win £500-worth of love2shop vouchers. What's more, retailers can win too as Cadbury will be matching the prize for the retailer if they have a lucky winner in store.

Below we take a look at what the major manufacturers are up to:

Ferrero

Ferrero has announced a multi-brand £8.1m media investment this Christmas to help retailers maximise seasonal sales. There are four TV campaigns as well as 10 new product launches. Raffaello will be the 'hero' brand, backed by a £2.85m media investment which will focus on the 'unique personalities' of its different ingredients. The ad, which profiles the sweet, smooth and nutty flavours, has been designed to encourage trial and connect with a younger audience through its tongue-in-cheek script.

Ferrero Rocher will return to the nation's TV screens this Christmas with its popular 'Make Your Moments Golden' ad supported by a £2.45m media investment, while Ferrero Collection will receive a significant media investment, including a standalone TV ad designed to communicate the premium quality and demonstrate its role as the perfect gift.

New to the Raffaello range is the Raffaello Micro Ballotin (rrp £1.23), which will be available all-year-round, to help drive trial of the range, as well as the Raffaello Mini Tree (rrp £2.09) designed as a premium small gift.

Ferrero Rocher has a new Shooting Star pack (rrp £1.99) as well as a Ferrero Mini Tree (rrp £2.09). Meanwhile, the popular Grand Rocher has improved labelling and a new easier-to-stack format, ensuring that the product is as easy as possible to sell in-store.

From Kinder there is a new Choco-Bons Box 300g (£4), with festive packaging and an on-pack gift tag, plus the new Kinder Chocolate Minis Hangable Star (£1.50).

From the Thorntons brand (now owned by Ferrero) come three new advent calendars: Santa (£3); Gruffalo (£3); and, for grown-ups, the Continental (£8). Meanwhile, Thorntons chocolate figures and shapes have undergone a makeover for 2016 with new poses and packaging.

Hancocks

Hancocks' best sellers last year were its from its Kingsway Let it Snow range: Gold Coins, Candy Canes and Snow Mallow Pops. Hancocks' 2016 Christmas catalogue includes over 190 festive lines including its biggest pick 'n' mix range ever. Giant sweets include the Giant Jelly Baby and the Giant Gummy Worm, which is over 2ft long.

Haribo

New for this year is the Mega Stars Selection Gift Box. Designed as a present with a label that can be personalised, this comes in two sizes. The 300g box contains four x 75g bags of Starmix, Tangfastics, Super Mix and Giant Strawbs, while the 600g box contains six x 100g bags of Starmix, Tangfastics, Super Mix, Goldbears, Jelly Babies and Giant Strawbs.

Also new is the limited edition Starmixmas 200g bag, which includes eggnog eggs, cherry trifle hearts, apple strudel bottles, apple strudel & custard rings and gingerbread bears.

Mars

An absolute 'must stock' for 2016 is the Maltesers Merryteaser Reindeer PIC, which was the number one self-treat last Christmas (Nielsen data). In addition, the Merryteaser Reindeer sharing bag was ranked the number two sharing bag in its first Christmas last year. The Merryteaser Reindeer will be supported by a range of pos and pre-filled solutions this year, to raise awareness and boost impulse purchases in store. The Merryteaser Reindeer has an rrp of 65p, while the sharing bag has an rrp of £1.29.

Galaxy Gift for You White is returning for another year, but with a twist. It has been rebranded to drive standout and maximise impulse purchases in store. Rrp is 65p. Galaxy also features for the first time in the advent calendar line up.

In 2015, boxed chocolate sales accounted for 74% of total Christmas chocolate confectionery sales (Nielsen), with the Celebrations tub remaining the number one brand in the category, worth £41.7m.

Mondelez

New Cadbury Dairy Milk (CDM) Snow Balls comprise vanilla mousse in a hard CDM chocolate shell. Rrp is £2.99 with eight packs per case.

Following the success of last year's festive Jelly Babies comes Maynards Bassetts Wine Gums Merry Mix, rrp £1.32, with 12 packs per case. The sweets are also available in a 570g Merry Mix snowman-shaped jar, rrp £5.99, four per case.

The new CDM Santa Gift Box has a Cadbury 'stitched' Santa full of CDM chunk bitesize pieces. Rrp is £2.99, 14 packs per case.

Other key lines to consider include CDM Snow Bites, which was the number one sharing novelty according to Nielsen data, with sales growth of 130% in 2015. Rrp is £1.15, 18 packs per case. And the CDM Advent Calendar, the number one advent calendar in the market, rrp £2.19, 12 packs per case.

Nestlé

Nestlé's biggest piece of innovation this year comes in the form of the Smarties 3D Activity Pack, rrp £4. This combines traditional and digital play to make an exciting interactive gift. Each box contains a penguin picture which can be coloured in, scanned with a digital device such as a mobile phone or tablet, then consumers can watch it come to life. Each pack contains a milk chocolate Smarties penguin, eight mini boxes of Smarties and a pack of colouring pencils. The Smarties pack is joined by a Milkybar 3D Activity Pack, again rrp £4, which includes a white chocolate polar bear cub, eight mini Milkybars and colouring pencils. In this pack children can colour in the Milkybar Kid and see him come to life when scanned.

Also new is the Smarties Penguin in Penguin, rrp £2.55. Inside each milk chocolate penguin is a milk chocolate penguin chick complete with mini Smarties inside. Also available is the Milkybar Polar Bear, which comes with a white chocolate cub inside. Rrp is again £2.55.

Then there's the Smarties Santa's Workshop, rrp £4, which includes six hollow milk chocolate figures with mini Smarties inside, including Santa, reindeer and elves. The interactive packaging is designed with a 'make your own mini Christmas tree' activity.

New Quality Street Honeycomb Crunch (rrp 65p) replaces the Quality Street green and orange bars from last year's range. The new bar combines milk chocolate with crunchy honeycomb pieces to form an indulgent treat, which Nestlé expects to have broad appeal with consumers. The company says these impulse bars have historically had high repeat rates, with consumers coming back to buy them again and again.

Honeycomb Crunch will also make its debut in Quality Street packs as the first new sweet in the twistwrap selection in nine years. The brand will benefit from improvements in packaging design, with the reintroduction of the 'Major and Miss' to the logo as well as more emphasis on the 'Since 1936' message.

The new design also leverages the colour gold for an even more premium, giftworthy feel, which will also improve on-shelf stand out. And, for the first time, the names of all the sweets will be highlighted on the outside of the packaging ensuring consumers can see the wide variety inside.

The successful TV ad from 2015 will also be returning, airing earlier to help support early season sales.

Storck

This year Storck is investing over £8m in TV advertising with a strong burst in the lead up to the festive season. The company's sales director, Andy Mutton, says this will ensure that consumers have its brands top of mind when shopping for their Christmas confectionery.

Both Toffifee and Merci products are available in boxes with removable festive sleeves, giving retailers the confidence to stock the products without fear of not being able to sell them after Christmas.

Mutton says Bendicks is one of the star performers in Storck's portfolio and therefore should form part of every Christmas confectionery line-up. "Kantar data revealed that Bendicks has the most loyal shoppers within the after dinner mints category, meaning that shoppers will continue buying the product long after the festive period is over," he says.

Swizzels

Swizzels has introduced the new Drumstick Squashies Carton for Christmas 2016. The eye-catching 140g gift carton is filled with the best-selling Squashies variant, Drumstick Squashies, Raspberry & Milk flavour. More than 100 million bags of Squashies have been sold since launch so this carton looks set to be a winner. A bigger 350g Drumstick Squashies Carton is also available.

Another new product is the Drumstick Gift Box, which contains a selection of the classic Drumstick variants including Squashies, Bon Bons and Drumstick.

T

angerine

New to the Tangerine range is the Jameson's luxury chocolate gift carton (rrp £2), which combines the Raspberry Ruffles and Caramels. Another new launch is the Sweet Champions Selection Box (rrp £2), described as "a first in the sugar confectionery market", which features six full-sized retro treats.


Christmas tips

Stock the very best-selling lines and use manufacturers' recommended stock lists to help drive sales.
Best in the convenience channel sellers need to be on the 'hottest' shelves at eye level, where shopper attention is naturally focused.
Utilise manufacturers' pos and build impactful displays in store to showcase your full seasonal range.
Use counter space to showcase self-eat treats.
Site disruptive displays in high footfall locations throughout the store, to capture the attention of impulse shoppers. Source: Mars/Mondelez

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