For those of you thinking about giving up on Christmas confectionery and handing it over completely to the grocery mults, the advice from the experts is ’think again’. Jonathan Summerley, purchasing director at specialist confectionery cash and carry chain Hancocks, comments: "Competition will always come from the supermarkets for every seasonal event that surely demonstrates the existence of the opportunity if you choose to look positively at the situation."
He reckons forecourts will always benefit from impulse shoppers.
"Many forecourt shoppers will look, see, then buy, especially in the run-up to the festive season. They will spot something that would do for a particular gift and purchase it straight away particularly if they can see that it is good value. The bigger and more prominent the gifting display, the greater the potential for sales."
Summerley says Christmas 2009 was all about offering gifts for those on a tight budget. "We offered a comprehensive range of confectionery items that could be profitably sold for £1 many were exclusive to Hancocks. The range performed extremely well."
For Christmas 2010, Hancocks will be launching 75 new lines, priced to sell from £1 to £2.99. Most of these will be exclusive to the chain.
"We have worked closely with a number of our suppliers to develop new products that will really benefit the independent market during the festive season," explains Summerley. "The reason for this is that it continues to be our own-label and lesser-known brands that see the strongest growth in the run up to Christmas."
Last Christmas Cadbury announced a partnership with Make-A-Wish Foundation UK and committed to donating £400,000 to the charity over a three-year period. This Christmas, in a bid to drive more awareness of the partnership, more visits to the website (www.cadburymakeawish.org) and more sales, the company is launching a new novelty product. Called Wishes, it is a milk chocolate star with a bubbly chocolate and truffle centre. Recommended retail price is 59p. The star comes with a range of different personalised messages engraved onto one side. Ten per cent of all Cadbury profits for Wishes will be donated to Make-A-Wish, which grants wishes for children aged three to 17 who have life-threatening illnesses.
The launch will be supported by a £1m campaign which will include press advertising.
Novelties account for a huge chunk of Christmas sales. Last year, according to Nielsen stats, Cadbury’s share of the novelties sector grew to 18%, and it had four SKUs in the top 12 Snow Bites, Magical Elves, Dairy Milk Coins and Dairy Milk Snowman.
Snow Bites performed particularly well. According to Nielsen data, sales were worth £3m and it brought new shoppers into the category, with 37% of its volume sales coming from new buyers.
To drive sales of Snow Bites even further this Christmas, the product design is being refreshed so the name stands out more.
In the gifting and sharing sector, Cadbury reports that its Koko by Cadbury line performed well delivering £1m-worth of sales during its first 17 weeks in the market. For this Christmas, Koko by Cadbury Assorted Truffles will be available, rrp £3.99.
Over at Mars, the big news is the launch of a limited-edition Red and Green M&Ms pack. The launch will be supported by a new Christmas TV ad as part of a £4m media spend on M&M’s.
In addition, to celebrate the partnership between Mars and the Football Association (FA), there will be a new Mars and England FA selection box.
And Mars says its Galaxy Mistletoe Kisses continues to perform well. According to IRI data, it delivered £3.6m-worth of sales last year.
Celebrations and Maltesers are always popular at Christmas. Both will be back with seasonal packs this year, supported by a TV campaign.
Steve Mounty, director of convenience and distributive at Kraft Foods UK & Ireland, says Kraft’s confectionery range sold exceptionally well last Christmas.
"There were four key drivers for our success in 2009. We had a strong core range of traditional favourites such as Terry’s Chocolate Orange milk ball, Terry’s All Gold and Toblerone 400g; we created new twists such as Terry’s Chocolate Orange volcanic popping candy and Tobelle; we developed really gift-worthy packaging and added-value in-store activity; and we supported all our brands with heavyweight media support."
This year he promises even more innovation with another new flavour for Terry’s Chocolate Orange and limited-edition packaging across the board.
Nielsen data reveals that Terry’s Chocolate Orange enjoyed sales worth £19.1m last Christmas and growth of 19%. For 2010, Terry’s Chocolate Orange milk gets new, limited-edition seasonal packaging featuring reindeer, cheeky snowmen and Santa, all with festive silver foil. Plus there’s a new ’white chocolate smasher variant’, which comprises orange-flavoured white chocolate and colourful crystal pieces for extra crunch.
Meanwhile. Terry’s Chocolate Orange Segsations gets two new flavours: cosmic toffee crunch and volcanic popping candy segments.
Toblerone had a very merry Christmas in 2009 IRI data shows 38% growth on the previous year, with the brand worth £6.8m in the weeks running up to Christmas day. Indeed Toblerone was either under the tree, in stockings or on the festive dinner table in one in eight homes (Kantar Worldpanel data).
For Christmas 2010 the brand will benefit from a £2m marketing investment as well as new seasonal packaging.
Toblerone 400g was a top 20 gifting product last year so the block will feature heavily in this year’s marketing activity, with in-store promotion and advertising.
The launch of Tobelle was well received last year. For Christmas 2010 the packaging is being given a seasonal makeover, with the distinctive triangular box festooned with Christmas imagery.
The brand will also be backed by substantial marketing support including in-store promotions, sampling and advertising.
Mounty says: "Customers really bought into Tobelle last year, and we hope that our new seasonal packaging will attract even more fans this Christmas. It’s a great option for those who want to share something a little bit different or give a little something to their friends."
Finally, according to Nielsen, Terry’s All Gold accounted for over a third of traditional boxed chocolate consumption last Christmas, with all four variants appearing in the top 10 branded boxed chocolates list. All Gold Milk was ranked as the second biggest seller based on value sales.
This year the brand will build on its heritage with new, more contemporary packaging designed to appeal to new consumers and long-term fans alike. Mounty says the design keeps the original, festive gold colour and gives it a modern twist to create a product with real shelf stand-out.
He adds: "Customers love Terry’s All Gold for the value for money it offers, and for its traditional, giftworthy packaging. Our new design keeps the heritage that has made All Gold great, but adds a fresh seasonal new twist. It should be a staple in independent retailers’ festive range to make the most of strong customer demand for the product."