From popping candy frogs to robins and even white chocolate polar bears, there really is something for everyone this Christmas. The confectionery manufacturers seem to have pulled out all the stops to ensure this Christmas will be a cracker.

According to Nielsen data, seasonal self-eat treats were worth £3m last year. New from Mondelez for this year is the Cadbury Dairy Milk (CDM) mousse snowman, which comprises vanilla mousse encased in chocolate.

Also new is the CDM Freddo popping candy in four festive designs. And Cadbury Wishes the number one Christmas self-eat (Nielsen) is back again with 10% of all profits from sales going to the Make-A-Wish charity.

And according to Nestlé, seasonal impulse confectionery should be the main area that convenience retailers focus on at Christmas time.

Nestlé UK trade communications manager, Graham Walker, says: "With sales incremental to all-year-round singles confectionery, it is the novelty of these products that attracts shoppers. They also act as a signpost for the Christmas season in store and therefore visibility is key to maximising sales."

Leading Nestlé’s 2013 range is the Quality Street My Purple Bar. This will be joined by another twistwrap favourite My Green Bar. Just like the green triangle sweet in Quality Street, it is a combination of hazelnut praline and milk chocolate.

And, building on the success of the Malteaster Bunny, Mars Chocolate is introducing the reindeer-shaped Merryteaser aimed at consumers looking for a treat in the run up to Christmas. And the Galaxy Gift For You keeps on giving with the launch of an exclusive Christmas edition a creamy white chocolate variant.

Novelties is one of the most profitable areas within confectionery, and it’s also growing with 500,000 new households buying into the segment last year (Kantar data). New novelties from Nestlé include the white chocolate Milkybar snowy owl and the Smarties robin. And, for those ’hard to buy for’ men there’s the Yorkie Spirit Level. This tongue-in-cheek gift comes packed with six full-size Yorkie bars.

Meanwhile, Cadbury has new "knitted" packaging across its entire seasonal range including the CDM bar. There is also a new addition to the CDM family the limited-edition Winter Wonderland tablet, which is made up of white and milk chocolate tree-shaped chunks.

Onto old favourites, and one in four households celebrate Christmas with a Terry’s Chocolate Orange (Nielsen), making it a must-stock for retailers. And this year, it’s going to be a white Christmas for the brand, with a limited-edition white ball joining the dark, milk and exploding candy variants.

Walker says the Quality Street 350g gift carton is a must-stock at Christmas too as twistwrap cartons are a perfect solution for the distress shopping mission in the convenience channel. But there are also two new Quality Street cartons.

Quality Street fruit cremes contains three different fruit creme flavours: strawberry and orange (from the traditional assortment) and new lemon zing; while the Quality Street toffees and fudge carton contains three different toffees plus a fudge sweet. Also new, and ideal for the convenience channel, is the eight-sweet Quality Street mini carton, with an eye-catching rrp of just £1. Says Walker: "Sales of mini cartons saw huge growth in 2012 and are the perfect mini treat shoppers can buy for themselves or others, as well as the ideal size for a stocking filler."

Last Christmas was the best ever for Ferrero. Levi Boorer, customer development director for the brand says sales soared by 13% to £33m (Nielsen data), outperforming category growth of 2.4%. "This year we are looking to drive further growth through our best-selling range, complemented by NPD and a £6m marketing investment that focuses on Ferrero Rocher and Collection being perfect for those special sharing and gifting moments."

Meanwhile, new Mini Cubes are being introduced for both Ferrero Rocher and Raffaello. The luxurious shiny gift boxes, which are presented with a neat bow, are designed to tap into the number one reason for buying boxed chocolates at Christmas gifting. The Ferrero Rocher box contains six chocolates while the Raffaello one contains seven.

There is also a new glittering pyramid-set, with which consumers can create their very own Rocher pyramid. Perfect for family gatherings, the pyramids make great centre pieces (in an in-store display or on a Christmas dinner table). Rrp is £19.99.

Sales surge

Storck UK sales director, Andy Mutton, says Nielsen data for last year points to a particular surge in sales in the last four weeks before Christmas, which can be attributed to the key growth drivers after dinner mints and other boxed confectionery.

"We believe value growth in the total boxed chocolate market came from higher frequency purchasing of smaller packs, as we see the trend of shoppers purchasing smaller amounts more frequently to help control spending. However, premium branded products like Bendicks has also experienced increases as consumers looked to trade up during the festive period."

He advises that retailers focus on smaller packs at the start of the seasonal period as consumers buy these packs for early self-consumption. "Retailers should start offering the larger retail packs from November when consumers start trading up into bigger packs for sharing and gifting. A great example is Toffifee, where the 100g performs strongly in the self-eat period when consumers are buying little everyday treats but as we move closer to Christmas, Toffifee 400g is in demand."

For those who want an alternative to chocolate, there’s the Swizzels Matlow’s range, where the best-selling Christmas lines last year were its three gift tubes Love Hearts, New Refresher and Drumstick. Mark Walker, head of sales at the confectionery company says: "These were key sellers for retailers of all sizes and proved popular with customers as a stocking filler. They have become a festive favourite representing an ideal little gift."

New for this year is the Sweet Extravaganza tube containing a variety of "everyone’s favourite sweets". There is also the Sweet Shop Favourites gift box.

Walker reckons independents can differentiate themselves from the grocery multiples by taking advantage of their flexibility and creating their own displays that are relevant to their customers. "Our Sweet Extravaganza tube is available in a free-standing display unit that can be placed at a convenient point in your store. The unit has stand-out presence in a red festive colour," he says.

He also advises that forecourt retailers use store windows to emphasise Christmas products to increase visibility and make customers aware that there are seasonal items available inside.

Finally, as shoppers have searched for better value in recent years, many are happy to move from the core brands and consider something lesser known or own label if they are happy with the quality, presentation and price. So says Jonathan Summerley, purchasing director at Hancocks Cash & Carry.

"Christmas is an expensive time of year and the pressure that we have experienced on household budgets has broken many long-standing habits".

New lines from Hancocks this Christmas include foil-wrapped giant chocolate coins; packs filled with jelly reindeer, jelly snowmen and snowies; and 200g mini filled bars in gift boxes that retail at just £1. Varieties include cherry, Irish cream, whisky and mint.

Many consumers are on the look-out for more unusual chocolate blocks think Hotel Chocolat or even Cadbury’s Marvellous Creations. With this market in mind, Hancocks has developed a range of five 200g blocks which are boxed up as festive gifts.

The novel chocolate bars, with rrps of £2.49, are packed in open-fronted boxes to draw attention to what’s inside. The five varieties are: rocky road, honeycomb, fruit & nut, triple choc and strawberry white choc.

Says Summerley: "Shoppers buy with their eyes first and these bars will certainly receive plenty of attention. They taste as good as they look and clearly provide something a little bit different in the chocolate category this Christmas."

Top tips for Christmas

Stock the very best-selling lines with limited seasonal spend, it’s more important than ever to keep your range tight. Focus on top SKUs and best-selling traditional Christmas products.
Utilise manufacturers’ pos and build impactful displays in-store to showcase your full seasonal range.
Availability is key shoppers buy through the season so make sure your display is kept stocked up and appealing all season long.
Help shoppers manage their Christmas spending by giving them a choice of self-eat treats and stocking fillers priced at under £1.
Check out for more tips.Source: Mondelez

Retailer view

Lisa Reed, Nisa Local, Ystrad Garage, Lampeter, Ceredigion
"Last year the tubs of Celebrations sold really well; we were selling them at the same price as the big stores at around a fiver. The Thorntons boxes also went well as did Family Circle boxes of biscuits they were on offer and our shoppers like a bargain. Selection boxes didn’t sell so well.
"We had to put our Christmas order in in July so made sure we looked at last year’s sales. We’re also stocking new lines such as the Merryteaser and the CDM mousse snowman. We don’t have a lot of space by the till but we do have a special place for Christmas lines so most of the stock will go there."

In Brief

Hancocks’ range of festive lollipops is ideal for stocking fillers. The line-up for 2013 includes jelly pops, chocolate pops, ring pops and swirly pops.
Mars has added two new tubes to its best-selling range: M&M’s and Mars twistwrap. In addition, Milky Way tubes have been updated and now contain individual twistwrapped sweets.
Nestlé’s Smarties Little Choc Penguin is joined by the Milkybar Polar Bear Cub.
Toblerone once again features specially designed festive sleeves for 400g packs of milk, fruit and nut, dark and white. The new designs include colourful Christmas lights, a sprinkling of snow and a waving Santa.
The new Smarties Supertube comes packed with eight individual tubes of Smarties. Rrp is £4.50.
Ferrero will be running competitions in cash and carries around the country. Retailers who participate have a chance to win a ’sparkling’ makeover for their store. Runners-up will receive product prizes and discounted deals.
Kinder’s popular chocolate Santa returns having had a bit of a makeover. The new-look Santa will now be Kinder Surprise branded and include a surprise toy inside. Also available are limited-edition pink and blue Kinder eggs containing relevant toys for girls and boys respectively.