Unfortunately the grocery multiples have taken a lot of the profit out of Easter for convenience retailers, either with or without a forecourt. The reason is that the multiples have done so many cut-price promotional deals that in a lot of cases Easter eggs have become a commodity. Of course you’ll already know this but what you may not know is that the major confectionery manufacturers still believe forecourts have a huge part to play in the Easter egg market. It’s just a case of picking and choosing your eggs carefully – stocking the impulse filled egg lines along with luxury gifting lines and leaving the smaller, lower price eggs for the mults to fight over.
Mike Tipping, head of customer relations for Cadbury Trebor Bassett, explains his company’s strategy: “Our new Cadbury Easter Egg Delight range brings back the heart of gifting to the Easter occasion and will drive profitable growth for forecourt retailers. It offers a whole new gifting experience and sits firmly in the premium gifting sector. Our in-depth consumer research has identified that consumers want a grander, heartfelt gesture to give to a loved one and this is exactly what our new range offers.”
The beautifully packaged eggs come in cylinders and within the main thick chocolate egg is another egg filled with chocolates.
There are three Cadbury Easter egg Delights: Roses Luxury Collection; Flake Moments; and the Cadbury Egg Collection.
Meanwhile Bendicks, a well-established player in the premium chocolate market, has brought together a collection of quality, adult-only Easter eggs and boxed chocolates for spring 2005. This includes: Bendicks milk chocolate Easter egg; the new-look Bendicks dark mint chocolate Easter egg; the new Mingles Easter egg; and the new spring-look Chocolate Collection.
Andy Morrison, Bendicks’ trade marketing manager, comments: “Our new Easter egg range provides discerning consumers with a special selection to rival all premium brands, and we advise all retailers to stock up and take full advantage of the sales opportunities it offers.”
At the other end of the price spectrum to premium shell eggs is the filled egg, which typically retails at around 40p. The low price might put you off stocking them but you should think again as they shift by the cart load at this time of year. The absolute ‘must stock’ is Cadbury’s Creme Egg which remains the number one filled egg at Easter, accounting for 76% of sales. The Creme Egg range has been redesigned for 2005 and will benefit from £5m-worth of media investment.
However it has a lot of extra competition this year. First up there’s the launch of Smarties filled egg. This comprises a milk chocolate shell with a chocolate-flavoured whipped centre and mini Smarties in the middle. Graham Walker, Nestlé Rowntree’s sales communications manager, expects it to be very popular with older kids and teenagers.
Then there’s the new Terry’s Chocolate Orange single filled egg, a foiled-wrapped milk chocolate egg with orange-flavoured filling, created exclusively for independent retailers.
Finally, Masterfoods is launching two new products – Mars filled egg and the Galaxy Chocolate Caramel Temptation. These are available in a dual-branded Quickbox display solution.
Cadbury Trebor Bassett also enjoys a market-leading position within the mini egg category, with its Mini Eggs accounting for more than 72% of sales.
As with filled eggs competition is hotting up, with Nestlé’s Fruity Smarties available in mini egg format.
“Mini eggs was the best performing Easter category in the forecourt channel last year, up a whopping 87.2%. So the message for retailers is to keep up the good work. Stock new innovative lines, like Fruity Smarties mini eggs, to continue to bring more people into the category and increase those sales even further,” says Nestlé’s Walker.
VALENTINE’S DAY AND MOTHER’S DAY
Of course spring also brings two other huge chocolate sales opportunities – Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.
For forecourts Valentine’s Day means a lot of men rushing in on their way home from work on February 14 grabbing huge boxes of chocolates and big bunches of flowers.
Cadbury’s Roses was never a brand you’d equate with a romantic gift, that was until it launched its Luxury Collection last Christmas. Now consumers get the chance to purchase a grander gesture because Luxury Collection comes with a double layer of chocs.
Since its launch, Roses Luxury Collection has achieved sales of almost £500,000 and latest data indicates that it is the second-best performing brand within the ‘special giving’ category. The top spot goes to another new Cadbury line – Flake Moments, which has recorded sales of £1.5m since launch.
However, in all the excitement of new launches you mustn’t forget the old favourites, and in spring 2004 it was Milk Tray that was the number one boxed chocolate assortment brand.
Easton Millar, trade relations manager for Kraft Foods, adds that Toblerone is a popular gift for Valentine’s Day. Sales have been driven by the availability of quirky sleeves, designed especially with men in mind. This year, Kraft has created additional sleeves for the 400g pack to sit alongside To My Love. They are Love Bites and I ? You.
These sleeves can easily be removed so the product can be quickly converted into regular stock.
Similarly Quality Street and Celebrations packs both come with Mother’s Day message stickers, which again are easily removed should they need to be.
However the big news from Celebrations this spring is the launch of its twist-top carton. Research by AC Nielsen found that the new carton has 20% better on-shelf stand out plus consumers can identify where the carton is located much quicker than with the previous pack format.
Meanwhile another top-selling choccie gift, Maltesers, is available in shelf-ready packaging display solutions that can be bought from cash and carries.
They have been designed to be easy to assemble, with the lid working as a base. This saves time in-store, and the small footprint (373mm x 386mm) minimises clutter and saves space
According to Kraft’s Millar each calendar occasion requires a different strategy but the key message is to make things easy for men and their families, especially on Mother’s Day.
“Over two-thirds of all confectionery gifts are bought by men on Mother’s Day, with 50% of purchases bought on the Friday or Saturday before Mothering Sunday,” he says.
Consumer Watch research (Special Occasions and Gifts, June 2004) confirms that chocolates are still the most popular gift, with 63% of consumers putting them top of the list. This is particularly true of women, with 75% of boxed chocolate gifts bought by women, for women.
Bendicks spring-look Chocolate Collection capitalises on this as it’s a ready-made premium gift. It features a new pink bow and ribbon that is particularly attractive for female gifting.
So to make the most of choccie sales this spring, think premium and think gift and don’t forget those filled eggs for the shoppers buying the gifts!