When looking at what to stock for next Easter, it’s good to reflect on what sold well last time around. The vast majority of you will have epos data which you can use to help with your ordering, however, it’s also good to look at what else sold well across the marketplace in case you’re missing out.

Cadbury remains king at Easter. Brand owner Mondelez had a 47% share of the market in 2017 (IRI data) and was the number one contributor of growth (£20m). It claims to have brought new consumers to the self-eat, sharing bags and shell egg sub-segments.

The self-eat sector (think Creme Eggs and mini eggs) grew by 14% in 2017, making it worth some £62m. Mondelez was the only manufacturer to grow self-eat in 2017 (+14.5%) and 83.4m Cadbury Creme Eggs were sold in 2017, cementing the brand’s position as the number one countline and brand at Easter (Kantar Worldpanel).

Creme Egg is obviously an absolute ’must stock’ for forecourts but more so in 2018 thanks to an exclusive convenience channel promotion. Called Hunt Down the White Creme Egg consumers who unwrap their coloured foil to find a white egg inside can win up to £1,000. Retailers who sell the winning eggs have the chance to claim a prize too in the form of stock or Love to Shop vouchers.

In sharing bags, Mondelez is also a big player with eight of its lines featuring in the Top 10 (IRI). Sales of Cadbury Mini Eggs, for example, are up 24% year-on-year.

As for shell eggs, anyone thinking they are a bit old hat needs to think again as 94 million of them were sold in 2017. Fifty per cent of eggs sold were Mondelez brands and the chocolate giant also claims eight out of the Top 10 eggs and says it is the biggest driver of growth (+7.6% IRI). Plus the company claims the biggest NPD of 2017 with its Cadbury Dairy Milk Oreo Egg ’n’ Spoon, which generated £3.7m-worth of sales.

Premium sales

Mondelez believes further growth in shell egg sales can be unlocked by offerings eggs that deliver new ’premium eating experiences’ and come in gift-worthy packs. Its answer to this is two new premium lines: CDM Ultimate in Daim and Fruit & Nut varieties, which feature hidden chunks of Daim bar and Fruit & Nut within the shells. The company believes they’ll be a hit with younger, affluent shoppers. Rrp is £12.

Cadbury Crunchie Large Shell Egg is another new line from Mondelez, this time targeted as an ideal gift for the younger shopper. Rrp is £6.15.

Orange is the new egg

At Nestlé there is excitement surrounding the availability of orange-only Smarties. For anyone who doesn’t know, orange is the only coloured sweet within Smarties that is flavoured. So, following the positive consumer response to the launch of the Orange Smarties Giant Tube this autumn, there is a new launch for spring. New Orange Smarties Mini Eggs come in 90g bags, rrp £1. Nestlé reckons it will have a big hit on its hands as the product combines the increasing popularity of mini eggs with consumers’ love for orange flavour Smarties.

The orange launches continue with the introduction of the Orange Smarties Mini Eggs Insider Egg. This pack features an orange flavour milk chocolate egg, complete with orange Smarties mini eggs inside (rrp £5.54).

A second mini eggs launch from Nestlé sees two big brands join forces to create the new Smarties and Milkybar Mini Eggs 300g family-sharing bag (rrp £3).

IRI data reveals that Nestlé is the fastest-growing mini eggs manufacturer, and the mini eggs category is a segment in massive growth with sales up 55.5% over the past five years and up 16% last Easter alone. Larger family sharing formats are also in growth, with 60% of the shoppers buying into this format being new to mini eggs. Nestlé’s new sharing bag therefore aims to capitalise on these consumer trends.

Last spring Nestlé did really well with its Egg Hunt packs. Combined sales of the Smarties Egg Hunt and Milkybar Egg Hunt packs grew by 21% to £1.2m and they were the number one and number three packs in the market respectively (IRI). Both return for 2018 with rrps of £3.99.

Three more lines that were big hits were the Milkybar Chick in Egg, the Milkybar Bunnies five-pack and the Smarties Bunnies five-pack, which together generated sales of £1m.

For 2018, Nestle’s range of large Insider Eggs and Giant Eggs will benefit from redesigned packaging to give them an even more premium, gift-worthy feel.

The company says big, well-known brands are key when it comes to stocking large eggs as shoppers are looking for the recipient’s favourite. Therefore, leading the Nestlé range for 2018, is the KitKat Bites egg (rrp £5.54).

Moving onto giant eggs and there’s another new product with broad consumer appeal. The Nestlé Pick & Mix Giant Egg features Smarties, Rolo, Aero Bubbles and Toffee Crisp, bringing a top-selling sharing bag into the Easter Egg format. Back for 2018 is the KitKat Chunky giant egg a priority pack for retailers with limited shelf space as well as the Nestlé Caramel Collection giant egg, Aero Selection giant egg and Yorkie giant egg (all rrp £7.49).

Nestlé reckons premium eggs are a lucrative area for retailers as sales grew 5.8% in 2017 (IRI) and there’s further growth to be had. Targeting a gap in the market by providing products for older, more affluent shoppers, Nestlé has the Dairy Box egg, sales of which were up 7% in 2017 and the After Eight egg, which enjoyed a 20% sales rise last Easter. Rrp for both is £9.99.

sales winner

On to Mars, and Nielsen data reveals that one in two people buy Maltesers products, meaning the Malteaster Bunny is a sales winner for Easter. It is already the nation’s number two self-eat product and Mars says the best way to grow sales is to place the product within arms reach of shoppers, in an impactful display alongside the Malteaster Mini-Bunnies sharing pack which is the number four sharing bag at Easter. Rrp for the single Bunny is 62p; the five-pack is £2.39 while the Mini-Bunnies sharing bag is £1.29.

Another must-stock line is Galaxy Golden Eggs which, since its launch in 2016, has generated strong sales and become the number two small sharing bag during the Easter season. It continued with strong sales this year, growing by over 30% in its second year, and looks set to continue this trend in 2018.

Featuring a combination of gold-coated Galaxy Chocolate eggs and crunchy caramel pieces, Galaxy Golden Eggs is described as an "eye-catching variation of the number two chocolate brand in the UK" and provides great standout on shelf. The Golden Eggs retail at £1.29, and are also available in a Large Egg format, rrp £5.29.

Both Galaxy Golden Eggs and the Malteaster Bunny will be supported by pos material which retailers can use to help create eye-catching in-store theatre.

Like Nestlé, Mars advises retailers to stock up on large and luxury options that offer a greater return and make a great gift for family and close friends. The company says that as research shows that many consumers leave it to the last minute to buy their chocolate (50% of sales occur in the final three weeks before Easter Nielsen) it’s important to remain stocked up on gifting chocolate. Mars has a variety of eggs in the large and luxury categories including Galaxy Minstrels Large Egg, Galaxy Indulgence Extra Large Egg and Galaxy Ripple Extra Large Egg, as well as Malteaster Bunny Extra Large Egg and M&M’s Extra Large Egg. Rrps start at £5.29.

A fresh new look

Ferrero is helping retailers boost their spring sales with the introduction of new seasonal products, a bespoke on-pack promotion, standout merchandising solutions and a £7.9m marketing campaign.

Ferrero is introducing bright new seasonal packaging across its range to "drive relevancy" during the key spring trading period. And to emphasise the premiumisation of Thorntons and create a clearer and better-aligned range, the brand has redesigned products.

Ferrero has developed a personalisation campaign across the Thorntons range. Levi Boorer, customer development director at the firm, says the activity taps into nostalgia for the Thorntons brand where consumers remember queuing to get their eggs personalised in-store or receiving a personalised chocolate gift.

"For many, an Easter gift from Thorntons signals premium, good quality chocolate and a thoughtful gift," he explains.

Supported by a £2m marketing campaign spanning TV, digital and social media, the promotion will run across a range of 14 eggs and novelties, offering shoppers the chance to win hundreds of personalised gifts for their loved ones. Prizes include 1,000 chocolate speech bubbles, with a personalised message, and three Chocolate Experiences at the Thorntons Factory.

Included in the Thorntons promotion is the redesigned range of Favourite Flavours adult gift eggs, which offer a trade up for shoppers looking to treat someone special. Available in four variants Thorntons Toffee, Fudge & Caramel Collection 208g, Thorntons Classic Collection 205g, Thorntons Nut & Praline Collection 208g and Thorntons Fruit Collection 210g (rrp £6) sales of the range grew by £1m in 2017 (Nielsen), and the Classic Collection alone was the fifth biggest SKU in the category, delivering 15% retail sales value and climbing to be worth £1.6m.

Thorntons is hoping to further drive the appeal of its larger eggs, with the return of its popular Mint Collection variant.

Having joined the line-up in 2017 (alongside Thorntons Classic Collection 258g, Thorntons Classic Dark Collection 258g and Thorntons Continental 255g rrp £10), the new Mint Collection delivered the second highest rate of sale in the mint category overall.

Mint eggs are more popular than you might think, accounting for £2m-worth of sales in the grocery multiples and the flavour itself has grown by 15.3%, outgrowing the market (Nielsen).

Meanwhile, Thorntons Dessert Eggs experienced double-digit growth in 2017, for each individual variant, with Thorntons Chocolate Fudge Brownie up 82% (Nielsen).

Described as a "firm favourite trade-up option", the Thorntons Dessert Eggs are available in three variants (Thorntons Chocolate Fudge Brownie 313g, Thorntons Lemon Meringue 319g and Thorntons Pecan Pie 329g) and each come with four individual chocolates.

Kinder Joy will return in 2018 following impressive sales in 2017, supported with out-of-home and digital displays.

Creating excitement

Boorer says: "It is important that retailers create as much excitement within their local community, which will not only help translate into sales but bring in new shoppers.

Last Easter saw the return of Ferrero’s award-winning Easter Egg Hunt, aimed at driving sales of Kinder Joy.

The activity encouraged retailers to offer their local communities their very own Easter Egg Hunts in-store, increasing footfall and driving excitement around the occasion. As a result, retailers saw an increase in their Easter sales year-on-year, as well as increased basket spend compared to the previous week of trading."

For 2018 there is a Kinder Egg Hunt Kit 185g, with an rrp of £6.99.

Despite the array of shell eggs available, many people buy boxed chocolates at Easter and Boorer therefore advises retailers to stock a good selection.

"We understand the role sharing now plays within the confectionery market and the Ferrero Pralines and Thorntons boxed chocolate ranges will be clearly positioned in line with two key shopper missions to give to share and to give to gift," Boorer explains.

Sweet Easter treats

IRI figures reveal that sugar confectionery is becoming more popular with consumers at Easter and as such was worth £1.7m over the six weeks of Easter in 2017, with gifting items and larger variety products accounting for the majority of sales.
Sugar confectionery giant Swizzels is keen to cash in on this and so new for Easter 2018 comes the Swizzels Fun Mix. Featuring a novelty Easter bunny design, it is filled with some of Swizzels’ favourites such as Double Lollies, Love Hearts and Drumstick lollies, together with crayons, a colouring page and a selection of fun puzzles. According to Swizzel’s data, the company’s Easter-themed tubs experienced 8% growth in 2017.
Meanwhile, Swizzels’ Easter Mix Tub is returning for Easter 2018, filled with sweets including Refreshers, Love Hearts, Drumsticks and Parma Violets, all of which are individually wrapped. Also returning is the Spring Selection bag, having experienced 53% growth in 2017.

Consumers will Love these

Valentine’s Day (Wednesday February 14) is a key period for Swizzels, with sales largely driven by Love Hearts, which is the company’s overall best-selling countline.
The sweets have recently undergone a digital makeover with the introduction of emoji Love Hearts. Eleven of the nation’s favourite emojis now feature in Love Hearts packs alongside the brand’s more traditional messages, in a bid to ensure that the product appeals to both the younger and older generations.
The newly designed, eye-catching packaging ensures stronger on-self visibility and Mark Walker, sales director at Swizzels, expects the wider consumer appeal to maximise sales.
Also available alongside the original rolls is the Love Hearts Love Letter, which contains a bag of mini Love Hearts. Then there’s the chrome Love Hearts tin which proved such a success in its first year (2017). The tin comes with a choice of three different messages: I Love You, You’re Fab and For You, each containing Love Hearts mini rolls. However, Swizzels’ number one selling treat over the Valentine’s period is the Love Hearts Gift Tube, available again for 2018 in an eye-catching design.

Two hearts

To mark occasions such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, Ferrero will focus on its popular Raffaello Heart and Ferrero Rocher Heart. The Ferrero Rocher Heart is available in two sizes, 50g (rrp £2.25) and 125g (rrp £5.07), and the Raffaello Heart is available in a larger 140g format (rrp £5.63).
At Valentine’s Day, sales of the two hearts combined are worth more than £750,000, while the Rocher Heart retains the number one seasonal present position among shoppers, followed by the Raffaello heart (Nielsen data).
Meanwhile, the Grand Ferrero Rocher continues to perform well within the novelties category, gaining double-digit growth of 48% year-on-year, and is now worth almost £1m at spring (Nielsen). Following consumer feedback, Ferrero is revamping its packaging for 2018. There are two sizes: 125g and 240g, with rrps of £5.63 and £9.66 respectively.
Levi Boorer, customer development director at Ferrero, says: "With 70% of shoppers valuing the quality of chocolate over the quantity, they are more willing to spend more on premium products. Moreover, confectionery is one of the few categories where consumers are willing to trade up to more premium treats. Ferrero Rocher’s seasonal lines, such as the Grand Ferrero Rocher, play into this consumer need by offering shoppers an assortment of premium products.

Retailer view

Steve Vaughan,
Handbridge Services, Chester:
"The spring occasions still present a sales opportunity for us but they are not what they once were. The supermarkets and the discounters have taken over all these major events, however we can cash in on last-minute purchases.
"For Valentine’s Day, the big thing is cards and we have a big push on these. We also do gifts such as bottles of wine in gift bags. For Easter, we really used to over-stock on large eggs but not any more. We stock more small- and medium-sized eggs and just a few large ones."

latest lines

Thorntons is replacing its Harry Hopalot milk chocolate and white chocolate eggs, with a milk chocolate Bunny and a white chocolate Bunny to reflect its new Masterbrand colours. There are two sizes (151g, rrp £5, and 60g, rrp £2). Both will feature in Thorntons’ on-pack personalisation promotion.
New from Nestlé is the Love You Lots Like Jelly Tots egg (rrp £5.61). This is a milk chocolate egg complete with two packets of Jelly Tots. It comes in bright yellow packaging and it gives shoppers the chance to personalise the box.
Kinder Surprise 100g Pink and Blue eggs are getting a spring makeover. After experiencing 16% growth in 2017, the top 10 product worth over £4m (Nielsen) will be partnering with two new licenses, DC Super Friends and DC Superhero Girls. A £2m investment will support Kinder Surprise including TV, digital and social activity.
Nestlé’s new Smarties and Milkybar Farmyard Friends gives consumers the choice of four different foil-wrapped hollow chocolate animals from each brand. The four Smarties animals are a pig, sheep, goat and chick while the Milkybar animals are a cow, hen, duck and bunny. Rrp is 65p.

Easter friends

For 2018 Hancocks is introducing the Easter Friends range of carefully chosen sweet treats. Products include a chunky 500g Milk Chocolate Bunny as well as smaller 150g and 125g versions. Also available in the range are bags of fluffy Bunny & Chick Marshmallows and Milk Chocolate Eggs with a cereal filling.
At the same time, Hancocks is introducing four bulk line products for Easter pick ’n’ mix: Solid Milk Chocolate Eggs, Creme Filled Chocolate Eggs, Yellow & Pink Chick Mallows and Pink and White Bunny Mallows.

Spring tips

Range keep your range simple to avoid confusion and allow shoppers to buy with confidence. Shoppers are looking to trade up at spring so offer a good display dedicated to premium brands.
Availability stock up early to make the most of the whole spring season, and keep in mind that some shoppers like to purchase early while others will leave it to the last minute.
Cross-category promotions providing a cross-category promotion increases basket spend and gives shoppers the chance to purchase multiple items in a convenient way.Source: Ferrero