Christmas is coming and with it the countless number of special chocolate lines – advent calendars, tree decorations, selection packs and mega-size tins to name but a few. However according to Andrea Taylor, trade relations manager at Masterfoods, forecourts shouldn’t get too carried away with seasonal lines: “You’ve got to remember that singles account for 72% of a forecourt’s chocolate sales, large bags account for 20%, so seasonal lines account for just 8% of sales.”
Well-established chocolate countlines continue to be the first choice for forecourt confectionery shoppers, with Mars and Snickers the top sellers. Says Taylor: “Of the top 10 singles in forecourts half are kingsize variants, which reflects the forecourt shoppers’ profile – that 62% of forecourt shoppers are male and 50% are between the ages of 24 and 44.
“Forecourts need to make sure that everyday chocolate is always in stock. Seasonal lines are really just the icing on the cake for them.”
Taylor reckons forecourts should be stocking Masterfoods bitesize products too, especially. The range was recently relaunched in pouch packs, a move that Masterfoods believes will result in a 15% uplift in sales.
And when it comes to Masterfoods’ Christmas lines, Maltesers is the absolute must-stock. Says Taylor: “Maltesers is number one in the branded gifts category, indeed three out of the top five branded gifts last Christmas were Maltesers products.” The Maltesers range comprises 146g box, 312g box, 400g box plus three buckets: milk chocolate, white chocolate and the mixed mega bucket.
Meanwhile Cadbury Trebor Bassett’s (CTB’s) countline activity recently saw the launch of Cadbury Dairy Milk Turkish in a single bar format. The flavour has been available in a block since 2003 but sales have exceeded all expectations, with it achieving the company’s best cash rate of sale after Cadbury Dairy Milk. The new bar has a recommended retail price of 40p.
Mike Tipping, CTB’s head of customer relations, says: “Cadbury Dairy Milk Turkish does not replace Fry’s Turkish Delight. The new single line will build on the existing success of Cadbury Dairy Milk Turkish in the 200g format and will introduce a new generation of consumers to the flavour.”
The company has also launched a range of share tubs, which contain individually-wrapped, bite-sized chunks of Cadbury Dairy Milk; Cadbury Dairy Milk Variety; and Cadbury Crunchie.
CTB hopes the new Great To Share tubs will help retailers capitalise on the lucrative trend for informal sharing – occasions such as a ‘big night in’ or low-key dinner party. Rrp for the new lines is £2.49 and they are available from September 12.
With more than 900 million ‘evening in’ occasions estimated to take place in the UK every year, it is expected that the tubs will be worth £22m in their first year alone.
For Christmas 2005, CTB has undergone a range rationalisation to drive sales efficiency and increase profitability for retailers through a consistent design to deliver greater impact. That means a major relaunch of its traditional Christmas range with a much greater focus on the new Cadbury master-branding. All traditional Cadbury Christmas lines will have the theme ‘Magic of Christmas’.
Apparently this consistency across the entire range makes the shopping experience much easier for consumers. Says Mike Tipping: “We want to put the magic back into Christmas and we feel this has been done by our redesign and now it is up to retailers to make a real effort to highlight their in-store displays to bring them to life and engage the shopper. This is essential if they are to generate additional profits and if the category is to continue to grow.”
CTB reckons the ‘special treat’ segment will be where much of the growth within the giving category will come from this year. Last year both Roses Luxury Collection and Flake Moments were launched as special treat gifts. The Roses brand grew by £6m in 2004, with much of this put down to the success of Roses Luxury Collection. And CTB is building on that success with the launch of a 65g Mini box for trial purchases.
There is also a new mini box for the standard Roses brand – an 80g mini carton that retails at 99p. Tipping says the Roses carton with 33% extra free should also be a focus for forecourts, as it is a profitable mechanic for retailers and one that is proven to increase sales at Christmas.
Cadbury Heroes too is available in a value added pack. The 480g carton has 25% extra free. Forecourts are advised to display these cartons in a high-visibility area, to show consumers that they are offering them something that other retailers are not.
Nestlé Rowntree has gone for the nostalgia vote in the countline market by making its Texan bar available once again. The ‘mighty chew’ bar was originally a hit in the 1970s, but has made a comeback for a limited time.
Graham Walker, Nestlé Rowntree sales communications manager, says it’s all part of the retro trend: “We’ve seen it with clothes and music, and now it’s confectionery’s turn.”
And the company’s retro phase continues with a new ‘Blasts from the Past’ promotion where consumers collect three promotional packs from KitKat Chunky, KitKat 4 Finger, Lion, Drifter, Rolo or Toffee Crisp, to receive a free retro ringtone. The brands taking part in the promotion will all feature retro-style packaging, designed to capture the shopper’s interest in-store.
For Christmas from Nestlé, there is new Pizazz from Quality Street – a contemporary twistwrap collection with centres such as cookies & cream and banoffi. Aimed at younger consumers, typically twentysomethings for a girls’ night in, it comes in two pack sizes: 200g which retails at £3.99 and 400g at £6.99. Nestlé Rowntree’s Graham Walker says these higher twistwrap price points will make Pizazz very profitable for retailers.
Another new line aimed at younger consumers is After Eight Straws, which are Matchmaker-like sticks with a smooth mint filling. However Walker reports that standard After Eight is Nestlé’s best-selling boxed chocolate in forecourts so Straws should not be stocked instead of the standard box.
LICENSED TO SELL
Nestlé’s Christmas range also includes Charlie and the Chocolate Factory packs, and Walker reckons the Smarties Wonka Cane is the one forecourts should stock. The new film is set for release on DVD in November so retailers should stock up to cash in on another bout of Wonka mania.
Like CTB, Nestlé is offering mini gift formats of its popular lines so Baci, Quality Street and Dairy Box are all available in 99p packs. And the Big Purple One and the Big Green Triangle are joined by the Big Orange Crunch, which replaces the toffee finger.
From Kraft, the big news is the renaming of Dime bar as Daim, its name in the rest of the world. There is also the launch of Chocotoff, dark creamy toffees that come in 250g bags with a rrp of £1.79.
However for Christmas it’s Kraft’s Terry’s Chocolate Orange that all forecourts should be stocking. It generated sales of £12m last Christmas and was the best selling gift in the 16 weeks to December 25 by unit. In fact 66% of the 12 million Oranges sold in 2004 were at Christmas time.
There’s more excitement surrounding the brand this autumn, thanks to the launch of a mint variant. The mint-flavoured ball comes in a modern green box and will be promoted with the tagline ‘It’s not orange, it’s mint’. On the market for one year only, the mint version comes in shelf-ready packaging and will be supported by PR and sampling. However, forecourt operators are advised to stock the mint ball only if they really have room for it and not instead of Chocolate Orange because it is such a strong seller.
Once again Toblerone, the chocolate that’s a favourite with men, has removable sleeve designs for Christmas. The three designs (socks, tie and slippers) aim to add value to the Toblerone 400g gift proposition. The brand will be supported by a new marketing campaign in the run up to Christmas. Its aim is to remind women aged 25-44 that Toblerone is a perfect token or top-up gift for men, and much better than your usual socks, slippers and ties.
Ferrero Rocher needs to be stocked by forecourts because it was the number four boxed chocolate brand in value sales last Christmas, according to AC Nielsen. However it performed even better in forecourts where it was the number three best-selling boxed chocolate with sales worth £276,000.
Alexei Archipow, trade marketing manager for impulse at Ferrero, says the ‘must-stock’ packs for forecourts this Christmas are Ferrero Rocher T16 200g for sharing; Rocher T24 Diamond 300g and Ferrero Rocher T15 Tree 187.5g for gifting; and new Ferrero Prestige T32 353g for premium gifting.
Prestige contains Ferrero Rocher plus Rond Noir, a hazelnut and cocoa praline; and Ferrero Cappuccino, a praline with a liquid coffee filling.
Says Archipow: “The £6.99 price is at the premium end of the inlaid boxed chocolate market yet it’s still affordable as a premium distress purchase.”
Archipow’s advice to forecourts is to concentrate more on gifting than sharing products. “Price is not a major issue with distress purchases around Christmas, so why not cut back on cheaper twistwrap brands and concentrate on the premium packs? Prominent displays of key gifting lines at seasonal times will have a very positive effect on sales.”
Duc d’O is another premium line that’s being seen more in forecourts. Available from P&H, there are two lines that are ‘musts’ for Christmas: the 250g truffle and 250g pralines.
Duc d’O’s general manager Peter Sheehan explains: “This year P&H also has some composite cases to encourage trial of amaretto truffles, white chocolate truffles, snowflake truffles and 200g mini pralines.”
The company’s 50g mini pralines have done so well as impulse purchases that they have now been joined by a 65g truffle in a new vertical display. Says Sheehan: “With only seven to the display, the 65g truffle works well as a trial pack for the standard 250g ballotin and will encourage new users to the brand.”
Meanwhile, Kevin Toms, managing director at Guylian, reports that his company’s 40g Seashell praline bar sells very well in forecourts. And from this month, it is joined by a new orange variant. The bars comprise dark Belgian chocolate with a creamy orange fruit filling. Both bars come in display outers of 24 and retail at 39p.
Says Toms: “Gift confectionery is very much an emergency purchase within a forecourt and Guylian brands make the perfect last-minute gift.”
He points to the 65g Seashells pack which retails at £1.09 as an impulse gift; 250g Seashells, at £3.99, as an everyday luxury gift; with 315g Les Exclusives, at £4.99, and Belgian Classics 630g, at £9.99, as more luxurious gift boxes. Plus there’s new Guylian Twists – a selection of twistwrapped Belgian chocolate seahorses with six different fillings (hazelnut praline, fresh orange cream, crispy caramel, cappuccino, smooth truffle and creamy strawberry). Toms says these will go down a treat as a family sharing box.
Obviously forecourts have a tough time competing with the grocery multiples and their heavily-promoted Christmas chocs but Toms concludes: “In order to compete, the forecourt retailer should stock and prominently display a range of brands with strong gift appeal and brands that are not heavily promoted such as Guylian.”