Forecourt retailers should let the grocery multiples get on with their big promotions on Easter eggs while they concentrate on what they do well selling chocolate for immediate consumption, says Graham Walker, trade communications manager at Nestlé UK. "For convenience retailers to see sales success next spring, their number one focus should remain on immediate consumption lines; sales of which grew by 4% (IRI data) in the convenience channel last spring. The immediate consumption category makes up 75% of total Easter sales (IRI) making it the one category that convenience retailers cannot afford to miss."
Walker adds that visibility early in the season is vital to success, and says this is something the grocery multiples do very well. Specialist confectionery cash and carry chain Hancocks now stocks a variety of self-eat spring confectionery products from December.
Jonathan Summerley, Hancocks purchasing director, explains: "This may seem ridiculous but the demand is there early in the season to warrant the stock.
"Creme Eggs will be in demand from January and inevitably plenty of marketing activity will kick in at this time too. Stocking the key players allows for impulsive, incremental sales. Furthermore, small self-eat products are repeat-purchased throughout the season."
Walker agrees that it’s vital to keep these products visible throughout the season to maximise sales.
"Seasonal impulse products offer retailers an incremental sales opportunity on top of their existing singles confectionery sales. With a higher penetration than filled eggs, seasonal impulse sales soared last spring in the convenience channel up a huge 22%, worth £5.7m (IRI). What’s more 83% (IRI) of their growth has been incremental to total Easter immediate consumption sales." Launched last January, Aero Lamb was the number one piece of innovation across the total spring market generating £2.7m in sales. For next year, the lamb will be back but it will be mint flavoured and it’s expected to be even more successful, as Nestlé says mint Aero outsells milk Aero by 40%.
With a recommended retail price of 65p, Aero Mint Lamb will come in a smaller 30-count outer, ideal for placing at the till to maximise impulse sales.
Another novelty line from Nestlé is Smarties Little Choc Chick, a foil-wrapped, hollow milk chocolate chick filled with mini Smarties (rrp 65p).
Thanks to its huge success in 2011, when it delivered sales value of £9.38m (IRI total market data), Mar’s Malteaster Bunny will be back for Easter 2012. Mars says this product allows retailers to drive incremental sales using the strength of the Maltesers brand. They are advised to stock up early to extend the sales opportunities and implement secondary sites for the Bunny to capitalise on impulse purchases.
Nielsen figures put Cadbury Creme Egg and Cadbury Mini Eggs as the best-selling Easter brands. Brand owner Kraft says retailers should use these two ’power brands’ to act as signposts to the Easter fixture.
There’s a new addition to the Creme Egg range for 2012 Splats. These are chocolate-shapes complete with a Creme Egg goo filling. The 165g bags join the Cadbury bitesize range.
New from Mars is the Galaxy Bubbles filled egg, while Galaxy Caramel filled eggs are being launched in a mini format.
Kinder Surprise is a good year-round seller. For next spring, it will feature 100 new toys including a car, plane and giraffe. The brand will be back on TV in the four weeks leading up to Easter.
Further support will come from a giant Kinder Surprise egg roadshow that will visit shopping centres across the UK. There is also a consumer promotion which asks who laid the first Kinder Surprise egg and encourages kids to draw the ’Kinder Surprisosaurus’.
According to IRI data, mini eggs account for almost 30% of total Easter sales within the convenience channel. Worth £9.4m with sales growth of 17% last Easter mini egg sales show no signs of slowing. Walker reports that sales of Nestlé mini eggs outperformed total sales in convenience and saw an increase of 30%.
He says Smarties and Milkybar Mini Eggs (rrp £1) are must-stocks for convenience retailers.
Over at Kraft, for the first time since the early ’90s, Cadbury Mini Eggs will be supported by a new advertising campaign. Advertising for the brand, which grew total sales by 11.2% in 2011 (Nielsen data), will start in March.
There is also a new pack for Cadbury Mini Eggs a stand-up 195g bag, which is described as "perfect for sharing". In addition, the 45g self-eat tube is being changed to make it more suitable as an everyday treat. The new pack is a square shape with a re-sealable lid.
New Ferrero Eggs are a premium token gifting line available in hazelnut and cocoa varieties. Each 100g pack contains 10 individually foil-wrapped eggs and has a rrp of £1.99.
Hancocks’ Summerley advises retailers with pick ’n’ mix to add mini eggs to their range. "Sales of mini eggs in a pick and mix range simply take off during the spring. Sold from jars or a stand, no pick and mix retailer should be without them," he says.
Hancocks is introducing solid chocolate mini eggs with spotted foils in a 3kg bag and solid chocolate figures and discs, foil wrapped in a 3kg bag.
Elsewhere in the Easter ranges, Nestlé’s Milkybar Cow and Smarties Chicken and Egg will be back for 2012. Smarties Chicken and Egg was the number two piece of NPD last spring (behind Aero Lamb) and generated £1.7m-worth of sales (IRI). For retailers with a bit more space, there’s the new Smarties Henhouse, rrp £4.99.
While for consumers not keen on chocolate, there is a springtime Rowntree’s Randoms carton which contains Easter-inspired characters.
As the Official Treat Provider of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Cadbury Daily Milk is launching the Medal Egg. This comprises a Cadbury Dairy Milk Egg and a novelty gold Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate medal.
And a new Cadbury Bunny is joining the hollow Cadbury Chick, following a successful trial last year.
Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Kraft Foods, advises retailers to create eye-catching Easter displays using key Easter products and new launches to help create in-store theatre.
Finally, Bazooka Candy Brands has a special-edition range of Push Pop Candy Toppers featuring Easter-themed figures.
These include an Easter bunny, Mr and Mrs Egg, and a hatching chick. Recommended retail price is 99p. Sarah Sibley, marketing director of Bazooka Candy Brands, says: "Easter is an important time for confectionery and there’s always a great demand for seasonal variants of popular products.
"It felt like a natural decision to put an Easter twist on Push Pop, and we feel that this new special-edition range with its collectability and visual appeal will be a big hit with consumers."
DON’T FORGET VALENTINE’S DAY...
Following the success of the ’Say it With Cadbury’ range, which launched this year, Kraft is adding two new Valentine’s Day limited-edition heart-shaped chocolate boxes under the Cadbury Milk Tray banner. Also available are the limited-edition Terry’s Chocolate Orange and Toblerone Valentine’s Day sleeves.
A great gift for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or Easter is Maltesers, what is more, the brand is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2012. The Maltesers box enjoyed sales of £6.6m last Easter (IRI) which is why brand owner Mars says it is the essential chocolate box for spring and a ’must stock’ for retailers.
Ferrero UK sales director, Jason Sutherland, reckons shoppers in convenience stores are looking for a well-presented top-up gift at a low price point. "Ferrero Rocher is a top-five brand at Valentine’s Day so is clearly a must-stock and the Ferrero Rocher T16 at £4.19 rrp is a top-performing SKU."
Another great line from Ferrero is the Rocher T16 heart, which retails at £7.49.
Hancocks will be introducing more value lines for Valentine’s Day including a 150g Rose Hearts net which can retail at £1. These foil-wrapped, heart-shaped chocolates are actually rose flavoured. Also available will be a £1 gift box of Belgian milk chocolate hearts. Each one contains a loving message on its foil.
Hancocks purchasing director, Jonathan Summerley, comments: "Retailers need to offer familiar ideas at every price point if they are going to achieve a high level of sales in the run-up to Valentine’s Day. There is also an important children’s and teenager’s market to consider and old favourites such as Love Hearts should be at the fore of this."
Simon Privett, Tollgate Service Station, Gravesend, Kent:
"Last Easter was excellent trade-wise but not for Easter eggs! It was exceptionally hot for the time of year and that ruined our egg sales. It was a disaster and we had to sell them off cheap after Easter. It’s definitely put us off and we have cut back our order for 2012. To be honest sales in 2010 weren’t great either. However, Cadbury Crème Eggs go well; you can’t really go wrong with them so we are ordering as many of them as we ever do."
Valentine’s Day February 14
Mothering Sunday March 18
Easter Sunday April 8
69% of the population bought into the Easter category
Shopping trips were up 8% to 3.9 per shopper
Egg sales were up 7% to 10.1 packs per shopper
Average consumer spend rose to £13.74 in 2011 (up 7%)
Source: Kantar Worldpanel data