Most forecourt retailers should probably leave the grocery superstores to battle over who sells the biggest tins of Quality Street, Roses and Celebrations at the lowest price, and instead focus on the self-eat novelties and impulse lines that they are so good at selling.
Yes, consumers will be buying large packs of twistwraps to scoff while they’re watching a Christmas blockbuster on TV but in the fraught run-up to December 25, they’ll be after little treats to keep them going.
According to Nielsen data, last year Cadbury Wishes was the best-selling festive self-eat novelty between Halloween and Christmas, contributing over £2m to the sub-category during that period.
Susan Nash, trade communications manager at brand owner Kraft Foods, says the key sales period for this line starts on November 1 so advises retailers to have a "strong off-fixture display" to encourage sales.
As in previous years, 10% of all profits from Cadbury Wishes will be donated to Make-A-Wish. Says Nash: "This makes the novelty product ideal for a time of year when giving and charity are at the front of consumers’ minds and is something that retailers can dial up in their displays to increase sales." In addition to Cadbury Wishes, Nash says other self-eat products retailers should focus on include Cadbury Magical Elves, Cadbury Snowbites and Cadbury Dairy Milk coins, merchandised either on the counter or in dumpbins, where space allows.
"Seasonal impulse confectionery is fantastic news for independent retailers and should be their number-one area of focus," says Nestlé’s UK trade communications manager Graham Walker.
"With sales up 53% over the past two years (IRI), seasonal impulse brings new shoppers into the singles category with an additional 1.25 million shoppers buying into chocolate singles in 2011 (Kantar Worldpanel). These shoppers are typically attracted by the novelty of the packs and the big brand appeal."
For Christmas 2012, Nestlé is tempting impulse shoppers with two lines Quality Street My Purple Bar and Aero Christmas Tree.
My Purple Bar, rrp 65p, sees the nation’s favourite Quality Street chocolate turned into a bar comprising four of the classic purple sweets. Last year, not only was it the season’s biggest confectionery launch; it was also the number-one seasonal confectionery product within independents, contributing £1.1m in value sales (IRI). This year My Purple Bar has refreshed packaging and has moved into a 30-count outer to make it more affordable for independents.
Aero Christmas tree, rrp 65p, also has new packaging featuring a ribbon, designed to give it more feminine appeal.
Meanwhile, following the huge sales success of Galaxy Gift For You caramel, a truffle variant has been added to the range. The indulgent treat offers consumers a present-shaped choccie with one half solid Galaxy chocolate and the other chocolate filled with either caramel or new truffle.
New for Christmas 2012
There are plenty of other brand extensions and new lines for Christmas:
l Kraft Foods has extended its Cadbury Wishes brand with the launch of a premium advent calendar containing a mixture of shapes that are either solid Cadbury chocolate or truffle-filled, with an extra special mini Wishes star for Christmas Eve. They come 10 to an outer with a rrp of £3.29.
l New to Mars selection box line-up is the Galaxy Luxury box, which includes Galaxy Gift for You.
l Celebrations has been redesigned for 2012 with a modern ’Christmassy’ style and an ’Eight famous brands message’ communicated on pack. Mars says the Celebrations mini box is great placed by the till to encourage last minute purchases.
l Nestlé’s new red Santa’s Sack contains eight full-size bars and features a gift tag which can be personalised. Rrp is £3.99.
l Ferrero Rocher is celebrating its 30th birthday in the UK with limited edition ’30 years’ packaging. This will run on three-piece treat packs (rrp 69p) as well as on 16-piece gift boxes (rrp £4.49). The birthday will be supported by ’gold standard’ point of sale as well as TV advertising in the run up to Christmas.
l New from The Jelly Bean Factory are 100g Christmas tubes. Santa’s Sleigh Beans is a red, green and white combination containing strawberry, apple and coconut beans; Snowbeans comprises white mint, coconut and vanilla ice flavours; while Red Nosed Rudolphs is a red collection of strawberry beans. Rrp for each is £2.
l Terry’s Chocolate Orange has a new limited edition toffee crunch flavour, while Toblerone 400g has festive sleeves that feature snow and silhouettes of santa. Terry’s Chocolate Orange comes 12 to an outer, rrp £2.69, while Toblerone 400g comes 10 to an outer, rrp £4.99.
l Kraft Foods is adding to the value of its Character Bag gifts by giving away free child entry to Cadbury World, worth over £10, with every bag. These come six to an outer, rrp £2.99.
l Quality Street has a new-look 350g gift carton, rrp £4.38. The design is said to have a more "contemporary and giftworthy" feel.
There is also a new line for After Eight. After Eight Collection, priced at £3.99, contains a selection of dark and white mint chocolates and is aimed at shoppers looking to trade up from the 300g pack.
l Swizzels Matlow’s new Sweet Shop Favourites tin (rrp £5) contains Refreshers, Double Lollies, Love Hearts and Drumstick lollies.
Also new are 108g tubes of Mini Love Hearts, New Refreshers and Drumstick Lollies, all with a rrp of £1.49.
l The Chewits Selection Box is a great alternative to chocolate. It includes eight full-size (30g) Chewits stick packs in a variety of popular flavours. Rrp is £2.49.
l Walker’s Nonsuch’s Duo Hammer Pack contains two favourite toffee varieties nutty brazil and original creamy together with a novelty toffee hammer. Rrp is £2.50.
Dare to be different
If you want your Christmas confectionery range to stand out, specialist confectionery cash and carry chain Hancocks can definitely help.
Jonathan Summerley, Hancocks’ purchasing director, explains: "We have developed a worthy reputation for offering something a bit different to help independent retailers stand out in a busy marketplace. More and more, we encourage our customers to look beyond core brands to the many other areas of confectionery."
New for 2012 is a 10" chocolate pizza, boxed just as you would expect. Rrp is £12.99. My Little Sweet Shop is a boxed shop window containing eight jars of popular sweets. Rrp is £9.99. There is also the Cupcake Mug, packed with a selection of sweets. Rrp is £3.99.
In total, Hancocks has 75 new lines for Christmas 2012. The company will be running a Two Day Extra Discount event on November 4 and 5.
David Miskimmin, Spar Brackenvale, Belfast
"We carry some good deals at Christmas which we promote at the roadside. Last year our tubs of Celebrations were cheaper than the grocery multiples. We’ve got a Tesco and a Sainsbury one-and-a-half miles away from us but we managed to hold our own thanks to the Hero deals from Spar.
"We give 4m of retail space to Christmas confectionery plus we make room for pallet deals for things like the Celebrations tub, Roses tin and selection boxes."