The media’s attention on sugar and how bad it is for you could be viewed as a nightmare for the chocolate market but, according to Mintel, only a minority of consumers are limiting their intake because of its sugar content.
For the majority of consumers, chocolate is still viewed as an affordable treat. In its most recent chocolate report, Mintel states: "That most consumers see a place in their diets for unhealthy treats goes some way to explaining the market’s resilience". And the research company’s figures reveal that 90% of the population eat chocolate, with 30% of them enjoying it at least four times a week. Younger consumers eat the most with 38% of 16-34-year olds eating chocolate at least four times a week, falling to 21% among the over-55s.
But still chocolate sales are slightly down. According to IRI, sales are worth £1bn a year to the convenience channel, a decline of 2.1%. IRI’s data comes from over 20,000 individual convenience stores, high street multiples such as McColls, travel and forecourt retailers, symbol grocers as well as unaffiliated independent grocers.
Cadbury Dairy Milk (CDM) remains the number one brand with sales of £157m in the convenience channel (£504m in the total market, 12 months to 13 Sept 2015).
Susan Nash, trade communications manager at brand owner Mondelez International, says continued investment in NPD and their base business over the past five years is the reason for CDM’s continued success. "Part of this investment has seen the launch of CDM Marvellous Creations, our biggest chocolate launch in the past three years, which recruited 1.5m new shoppers to the category (Kantar data)."
Last summer saw Rocky Mallow Road added to the Marvellous range chocolate that has pink marshmallows, strawberry jellies and shortcake biscuit inside. This and the Jelly Popping variety are available in a Smashables bar which encourages consumers to flip the bar over, smash it and share it.
CDM’s latest launch is called Medley, which is described as a "multiple taste experience" that aims to drive new growth in smaller tablets.
Available in two 93g varieties, Medley combines visible inclusions (dark chocolate chips, biscuit and fudge pieces or dark chocolate chips, caramelised hazelnuts and raspberry pieces). Rrp is £1.49 but £1 price-marked packs are also available. The bar is being particularly targeted at 25-44-year old women who are looking for something special for an evening treat.
Matthew Williams, marketing director for chocolate at Mondelez International, says: "We believe that with CDM Medley, we have a product that will be effective in bringing in new shoppers as well as delighting loyal CDM consumers. Our target shoppers are adventurous with their chocolate choices and especially like trying new products and new taste experiences, with a preference for creamy textures and this really delivers."
The launch is supported by a £3m marketing campaign including TV, sampling, outdoor, digital, PR and in-store activity.
Meanwhile on the countline front, Mondelez is positioning Time Out as a ’permissable’ snack by cutting it in half. New Cadbury Time Out Wafer is a single finger comprising three layers of chocolate sandwiched between sheets of wafer. With 111 calories per bar, it is priced at 35p.
Nuria Antoja, marketing manager for Cadbury singles at Mondelez International, says: "We’re seeing increasing consumer demand for lighter snacks, and Cadbury Time Out Wafer meets this need particularly well. With 111 calories, it keeps the great chocolatey taste and crispy wafer texture of Cadbury Time Out, and at a great low price point. The product has proved highly successful in our testing, and we’re confident it will be a big hit with customers and help drive category growth."
The launch is supported by pos material including free-standing display units, gutter trays, dump bins and counter units.
Meanwhile, Nestlé is taking the more indulgent route with its latest limited edition Aero Mousse Caramel. It combines bubbly chocolate with caramel-flavoured mousse within a chocolate shell. Rrp is 62p.
The limited edition follows the success of Aero Mousse Milk, which was launched nine months ago. According to Kantar data, 98% of sales since then have been incremental to the core brand, with 40% of them incremental to the confectionery category.
The product has also attracted a younger, more affluent consumer to the Aero brand. To further capture shoppers’ attention, Aero Mousse Milk has updated packaging to give it an even more premium look.
This year the Aero brand will be supported by a £5m media programme, including new TV advertising as well as bespoke activity for the Caramel variety via Facebook.
Kinder Bueno Dark, a limited edition from last year is now back on shelves for good. Levi Boorer, customer development director at Ferrero UK & Ireland, comments: "There’s a lot of love for Kinder Bueno; nearly a third of consumers tell us that it is the most unique brand in the category and 60% of existing buyers would also purchase our Dark variant, demonstrating the lucrative sales opportunity for retailers.
"Shoppers are still purchasing little indulgences from the brands they love. By listening to our consumers and offering something a little bit different, such as our sophisticated on-pack offers and the launch of our Dark variant, we have seen the sales of the Kinder Bueno range grow by 12% in the past year (Nielsen).
"Countlines are often seen as a treat, and Kinder Bueno, with its delicate layers and textures, plays to this trend and is set to help retailers capture additional impulse purchases."
Kinder Bueno Dark, will be supported via social channels with media investment and giveaways.
The most recent NPD from Mars is a new addition to its Galaxy Duet range - Toffee & Popcorn.
The new single bar, rrp 60p, follows the launch of Galaxy Duet Cookies & Cream and Caramel & Shortcake, which landed in stores last summer. New Toffee & Popcorn comprises two fingers of Galaxy chocolate one filled with toffee sauce, the other with a combination of crunchy, salted toffee and popcorn pieces, which consumers can either enjoy separately or combine to create a "unique taste sensation".
Supporting the launch will be a dedicated TV push, with a media spend of £600,000 seeing the popular ’Moon River’ advert return to UK TV screens for four weeks. The new product will also have a strong presence across social media and digital platforms thanks to a dedicated online launch. A range of impactful display solutions, including pre-filled units, will be available.
Sharing in the success
Sharing is big business across confectionery and snacks but whether consumers actually share these so-called sharing packs is another matter.
Nash says Mondelez International’s sharing bags are selling well: "We hold the largest share of the market, worth £144m and growing at 21% thanks to on-going new product development in the segment (Nielsen data to October 2015)."
Cadbury Boost Bites, featuring bite-size portions of the popular countline, was launched last August and is already worth £2.8m (Nielsen).
Milkybar Giant Buttons is Nestlé’s number one sharing bag and one of the top 10 bags in the market (IRI).
It has just been joined by a new product: the Milkybar Milkshake Mix Up sharing bag.
This is a combination of the popular white chocolate giant buttons together with new chocolate milkshake flavour giant buttons. Rrp is £1.59.
Bep Dhaliwal, trade communications manager at Mars Chocolate, believes the rise in popularity of the Big Night In occasion has resulted in sharing packs playing an increasingly key role in the confectionery market.
"This includes bitesize packs, where Mars Chocolate UK has four of the top five lines, including Maltesers, which is proud to be the UK’s number one bitesize brand (Nielsen).
"Mars Chocolate has enjoyed encouraging growth in sharing formats in the past 12 months, with its pouch and block formats performing strongly and helping to generate a 6.6% growth, while sales of boxed chocolates rose 4.1% (Nielsen)."
And all because...
Thirty-nine-year old fireman Patrick McBride beat more than 20,000 other applicants to be named the new Milk Tray Man.
The Milk Tray Men of the 1960s to the 1990s went to extreme lengths to deliver a box of chocolates to the women they loved, but 21st century Milk Tray Man McBride will also showing his caring and sensitive side. So, over the next year, he will don the iconic black polo neck and embark on his mission to show the nation what real thoughtfulness is.
McBride says: "When my wife nominated me for this role I never thought I’d actually get it. To be the one selected out of over 20,000 people is incredible and I still have to pinch myself on a daily basis it is truly life changing.
"I’m honoured to have been chosen to take on this iconic role and I can’t wait to show people the next chapter in the Milk Tray Man story."
Doing the Continental
Thorntons Continental has had a makeover for the key spring sales period. The result is a premium new box design and five new flavours, with consumer research showing that the new packs generate twice the stand out on shelf and 50% higher purchase intent.
Thorntons’ senior product marketing manager, Michelle Bernacki, says: "Half of shoppers currently leave the boxed chocolate fixture without purchasing, but our research suggests that the new Continental range will alter that dramatically. So much so, in fact, that 18% of shoppers who give flowers, and 31% who give wine said they would change their gifting habits to give Thorntons Continental instead."
According to Nielsen, spring represents a £139m sales opportunity for boxed chocolates and although Valentine’s Day has already gone, we still have Mother’s Day and Easter to come. Figures show that inlaid boxed chocolates such as Thorntons Continental are the most popular gifting format.
The new chocolates in the assortment are a Dark Espresso, Chocolate Milano, Seville Caramel Orange, Apricot Danish and Salted Caramel Praline, while the new boxes aim to communicate the brand’s premium credentials and heritage.
Continental is available in a range of sizes including the 142g for a token gift (rrp £6), and the 284g, for the more significant gifting occasion (rrp £9). The 284g size comes in gift-wrapped outer.
CREME EGG CRAZE
If you had any doubts about the popularity of Cadbury’s Creme Eggs, the opening of a café dedicated to the confectionery should put you right. It’s a limited-edition café in central London, which is offering chocolate lovers a range of Creme-Egg inspired treats. Items on the menu include the Creme Egg Toastie toast sandwiched together with a gooey Creme Egg; and Egg & Soldiers a Creme Egg cracked open and served with toast for soaking up the goo.
Meanwhile, other outlets are having fun serving up Creme Eggs. Several chip shops are offering battered Creme Eggs while Derby chef Phil Joy has created a 1,000 calorie Chocolate Geg (a Scotch egg with a Creme Egg centre).
We sell a lot of chocolate with old favourites like Mars, Snickers and Twix all very popular. We have a long run of confectionery next to the window, on the way to the till, so it’s hard for customers to miss it. We’ve also got Creme Eggs right by the till at the moment and they are selling well.
"Sales of chocolate aren’t particularly seasonal; it sells all year round. We have a planogram that we have to stick to so there is not often that much space for new lines."