AA and AAA batteries dominate the UK battery market, accounting for 62% and 25% of volume respectively, according to AC Nielsen figures. And together, the main five cell sizes AA, AAA, C, D and 9V satisfy around 80% of consumer requirements. Alkaline is still the largest battery segment with 86% of total value sales, with rechargeables, lithium and zinc accounting for the remainder.

You probably stock some of these batteries, some of the time, but now is really the time to make sure you have all of them in stock right through until January. That’s because 44% of total annual battery volume is bought during the four-month period between October and January (Nielsen).

Anthony Sewart, sales director at Varta Consumer Batteries UK, says that at Christmas, batteries are a retailer’s best friend: "The combination of demand from shoppers reaching its annual peak, a small footprint and a very long shelf life all allow for a huge opportunity for incremental sales growth."

Eva Jacobs, brand manager North Europe (UK, Ireland, Nordics) for Energizer, adds: "The Christmas period is key given that the battery category is driven by high-tech devices that are popular during the festive season such as digital cameras, photo flash units, handheld GPS devices and game consoles. Due to the high value of these products, consumers seek long-lasting, high-quality products that can be trusted to help these high-drain devices perform to the best possible ability."

Meanwhile, P&G has confirmed that large packs of Duracell AA and AAA will be available in the run up to Christmas, and the firm says these value packs are a "superb way of rewarding the consumer at this time of the year".

But many retailers across forecourt and convenience stores worry about stocking batteries or, more specifically, siting them out on the shopfloor because they can be quite a high-value item.

Panasonic sales and marketing manager, Tim Clark, comments: "Batteries present a huge untapped impulse sales opportunity for forecourt retailers, given their long opening hours and largely transient custom. However, if customers can’t see that you sell batteries then they won’t buy them. It’s that simple. That’s why impactful merchandising of well-known trusted brands, sited in a prominent position, will drive sales. Because of the risk of theft, many retailers often hide their batteries behind the till, but in doing so are missing out on significant sales opportunities, far outweighing the value of batteries lost through theft. Panasonic has a range of secure pos that will enable retailers to merchandise their batteries effectively and securely."

For those retailers who are happy to put batteries out on the shopfloor, Sewart suggests a few small secondary displays located throughout the store.

"This increases the chance of shoppers making a purchase. Using simple placement options such as clip strips allows these to be spread throughout the store, without taking up additional shelf space. In addition, counter displays at till points are very effective. Here, shoppers can quickly add a pack of batteries to their basket right at the point of purchase."

As for well-known brands, an independent survey of battery shoppers showed that Panasonic was the second most recognised battery brand, even though it is number three in the market by size.

"More than 89% of those surveyed recalled the Panasonic brand, and almost half of these recalls were unprompted," says Clark.

And whereas overall impulse battery sales in the convenience market have fallen by 4.2% in value, Panasonic has bucked the trend with a rise in this sector of 4.7% (Nielsen Scantrack impulse data year-on-year MAT May 23 2015).

This year Panasonic has introduced new improved performance across its alkaline batteries so that each of the products is at the forefront of performance in their respective market segments.

Clark says the three most important factors shoppers seek when buying batteries are longevity, no leakage and long shelf life. "Consumers do not always understand a brand’s power claims and so communicating the longevity of battery life is generally what increases the trust in the brand.

"New packaging across our range communicates Panasonic’s increased performance, together with clearer messaging of the batteries USPs (long-lasting, no leakage and long shelf-life)." He says that in combination with clearer battery size indicators and sub-brand communication, the new packaging will boost stand out at the fixture."

The future

Vicky Miller, Duracell business leader at P&G, says there is an increased focus on sustainability within the batteries category. "We have been investing in making environmental improvements for many years and we look forward to making many more.

"Duracell currently uses up to nine per cent recycled materials in the manufacture of each battery, and 80% of all Duracell packaging is made from recycled materials."

She says P&G doesn’t produce the more harmful zinc batteries which are still common in the UK often found in pound shops and other discounters and in developing markets.

Miller points to Duracell Ultra, which contains the Powercheck indicator to let consumers know how much power is left. "We encourage full use of the battery as our research shows that up to one-third of all alkaline batteries are thrown away with power inside."

However, P&G’s research also reveals that consumers’ top priority is longer-lasting batteries to provide better value. "They tell us they aren’t willing to pay more for batteries with an improved environmental impact and so our task is to continue innovating to improve the sustainable credentials of our products while continuing to improve performance and value. Consumers won’t accept trade-offs on performance or value and so we can’t either as we innovate for the future."

that shrinking feeling

As devices shrink in size, the market for small button cells is growing. Anthony Sewart, sales director at Varta Consumer Batteries UK, says: "With this in mind, in addition to the five main primary battery sizes, forecourt stores should also consider a small selection of specialist button cells that can complement the gifts and gadgets on people’s Christmas lists this year, including the increasingly popular ’selfie’ stick.
He says a range of four or five battery types would cover most consumer needs and would also be a profitable addition to retailers’ displays.

putting fun into batteries

Over the summer Panasonic linked up with the Minions movie in a bid to engage more with families with kids. There were on-pack collectable stickers as well as a special website where kids could download posters, send Minions greetings cards and watch trailers.
The company’s latest activity celebrates the 10th anniversary of its Eneloop battery. These batteries are said to represent "fantastic value for money" for heavy users.
Eneloop batteries are pre-charged by solar energy from photovoltaic cells and are delivered ready for immediate use upon purchase.
And while other non ready-to-use rechargeable batteries lose their charge over time, Panasonic’s Eneloop technology enables these batteries to keep up to 70% of their charge for 10 years.
The product’s 10th anniversary is being celebrated with a ’One of a kind’ campaign where children can let their imagination and creativity run wild.
All they have to do is draw whatever they like, take a picture of their hand drawing and upload a photograph of it to an online page.
Each month of the campaign, 10 lucky entrants will have their hand drawings selected and made into a personalised soft toy.
The promotion, which runs until January 31, 2016, will be featured in-store and online to help drive brand engagement and sales.