Chillers are home to all manner of products but sometimes, when retailers are looking at exotic ready meals or the latest sandwich fillings, the everyday lines can get overlooked. Milk is a case in point. It’s an extremely important top-up line so always being in stock is paramount.

Recent research by Cravendale found that consumers go through three levels of decision making when it comes to choosing their milk. Firstly they choose milk type (fat content, goat, soya etc); secondly pack size (1 pint, 1 litre, 2 litre); and thirdly brand (own label or Cravendale etc).

According to Nielsen data (52 w/e May 15, 2010) Cravendale is the number one milk brand in the UK and is gaining popularity in the convenience market where it is enjoying value growth of 3.2%.

Arla Foods’ category manager, Victoria Tate, says: "Cravendale’s favourable shelf life can help convenience retailers maintain milk availability and reduce waste as it uses a unique filtration system, which removes more of the bacteria that turns milk sour. This means it stays fresher for longer seven days once opened and 21 days unopened which is over twice as long as standard milk." She recommends that retailers display their milk by fat type as this is how people shop the category. She also advises them to ensure full availability by re-stocking at key times of the day and to give sufficient space to bigger pack sizes (one litre and two litres) to encourage trade-up from single pints.

Moving on from milk, there’s the butter, spreads and margarines (BSM) category. Stuart Ibberson, group brand manager for Anchor and Lurpak, says the main trend in this category over the past couple of years has been consumers moving towards more natural and tasty products, such as Anchor and Lurpak, and away from those packed full of additives.

"This coincides with the decline in the consumer making a purchasing decision based on health, as seen by the decline of the low-fat sector.

"This trend is highlighted by the fact that the block butter and spreadables sectors now represent almost half the total BSM category value (46.5%). The spreadables sector has become the biggest in the category, worth nearly £300m and representing 25% of the market (AC Nielsen 52 w/e March 20, 2010)."

Ibberson says butter and spreads are "bought on autopilot". "Compared to other categories, shoppers spend very little time browsing the category just 13 seconds. This reduces the opportunity to trade up as the shopper heads directly to their preferred brand. It is therefore essential to merchandise the category with the best-selling products such as Lurpak Spreadable 500g, Lurpak Lighter 500g and Anchor Spreadable 500g.

"We advise retailers to avoid listing only value or tertiary-branded products because it discourages consumers from trading up to more premium brands such as Lurpak and Anchor. It is also worth noting that branded best sellers act as a signpost for a quality and credible BSM offering, ensuring increased shopper confidence and loyalty."

Cheese is another category that can sometimes get overlooked but it shouldn’t because, according to Kantar Worldpanel data, the UK market is worth £2.3bn.

Sean Whitfield, sales and marketing director at The Kerrygold Company, which provides cheese under the Adams brand and for own label, says: "Cheddar accounts for 54% of the market. Block cheese in varieties such as Cheddar is extremely popular as forecourt shoppers top up their weekly shop, however convenience formats remain in double-digit growth and consumer penetration of sliced and grated varieties is increasing year-on-year.

"Everyday staple cheeses such as British Cheddars and territorial cheeses that appeal to the top-up shopper, as well as ’on the go’ products such as lunchbox formats are ideal for forecourts. The fixture should be clearly laid out to aid quick decision making and be made up of own-label cheeses, supported by a few key brands. We have found that consumers tend to opt for smaller formats in the convenience and impulse channel. However a few large packs, sold on promotion, will appeal to shoppers with family in mind, and in turn drive interest in the fixture."

Whitfield says cheese doesn’t have the same impulse purchase factor as other categories so promotions are key to driving interest. "Retailers need to make the fixture work hard to ensure consumers are engaged, can see what they are looking for clearly, and can make a confident purchasing decision.

"Insight has shown us that consumers want an easy-to-navigate fixture. They want all cheese products together (not separated by other dairy products in between), own-label cheese in their eye line, with the labels visible and product standing up. Multi-buy promotions within convenience, particularly ’2 for £X’ across a wide range of cheese products work well as they allow consumers to expand their repertoire both in cheese types and formats."

Yogurts and desserts

Another important category for forecourt stores is chilled yogurts and pot desserts (CYPD) because, according to Nielsen data, they are purchased by 96% of households.

Jonathan Dee, interim marketing director of Müller Dairy, says forecourt retailers should tailor their offering to suit their customer base.

"A forecourt store predominantly used by passing trade for lunchtime and snack purchases, for example, has very different chilled and CYPD range requirements to that of a semi-rural forecourt store used for top-up shops and evening meal purchases.

"The multiple operators are already starting to segment their stores by ’shopping mission’ and adapt the ranges accordingly and I believe we will see the progressive forecourt stores adopting a more bespoke approach.

"This will enable stores to capitalise on impulse purchase opportunities. In our research we found that for stores with lunchtime trade, placing yogurts close to sandwiches and salads would encourage people who hadn’t intended to buy a yogurt to pick one up, and for stores attracting ’top-up’ shoppers, locating yogurt close to staples such as milk, cheese and bread work well in driving impulse purchase.

"Yogurts and chilled pot desserts along with chilled ready-meals also provide ideal ’meal solutions’ for stores used by shoppers purchasing evening meals."

For all forecourt stores Dee recommends a base range of: Müller Fruit Corner strawberry, Müller Bio Yogurt Corner strawberry granola or tropical fruit granola; Müllerlight strawberry; Müller Rice strawberry; and Cadbury Twin Pot chocolate Flake.

"We’d recommend that ’community’ forecourt stores used for top-up purchases, stock six-packs of Müller Little Stars for mums purchasing for school lunchboxes, and Müller Vitality functional yogurts/yogurt drinks which appeal to mature consumers seeking healthier options.

"For stores attracting shoppers on their way home from work, Müller Amoré can generate impulse purchases from consumers picking up an indulgent treat to complete their evening meal."

Müller Dairy also recommends installing spoon holders and providing spoons in stores where retailers are looking to capitalise on lunchtime and ’snack-on-the-go’ opportunities.

Fresh produce

Finally, Georgina Wild, marketing manager at Him, says offering a good display of fresh produce helps with the overall perception of your store. The thinking is that if you can offer a good range of fresh fruit and veg, then it’s a good store to shop in.

"Thirteen per cent of forecourt shoppers say that the quality and range of fresh products is important to them," she says.

As for trends, she reckons it’s all about convenience: "Consumers want smaller pack sizes, prepared fruit and vegetables which can be cooked without much fuss, and bagged salads rather than loose lettuces."

Fear of wastage is something that puts many retailers off stocking fruit and veg. Wild says they need to invest in writing off a percentage of stock at the end of each day to ensure availability.

"Maintaining availability is vital. Retailers need to ensure full availability first thing in the morning as people buy on their way to work and at 5pm when people will be buying something for their dinner."

Product News

l As part of a £10m brand investment for 2010, Anchor Butter is currently on TV in a ’Made by Cows since 1886’ ad showing a tongue-in-cheek day in the life of the Anchor Butter cows making butter in the Anchor dairy.

l Ginsters has added loads of new lines to its range. These include the meat feast slice which contains British smoked ham, pork and beef meatballs, chicken, pepperoni, mature cheddar cheese and a rich tomato sauce. There are also new two-piece snack packs: original Cornish pasties; sausage rolls; and mini ploughmans pork pies. Two new wraps have also joined the range: BBQ beef and fiery cheese.

l Müller Corner is the subject of a £9m relaunch programme this summer. The activity includes the launch of two new Fruit Corner variants mango & passion fruit and blackcurrant & apple as well as a new ’Thank you cows’’ multi-media marketing campaign.

l Spar has extended its own brand lunchtime range with the launch of 10 new items as well as 47 product relaunches. New additions include carrot batons with houmous dip and a limited edition deep fill spicy chicken sandwich. Improvements have been made to the recipes of items such as scotch eggs and the southern fried chicken wrap.

l Müllerlight has re-introduced its summer berries limited edition pot which proved to be a big success last year. It replaces lemon cheesecake which was launched last autumn.

l Bel UK is backing its Leerdammer range with a £3m marketing investment during 2010. In addition, Boursin’s ’du pain, du vin, du Boursin’ advertising is back on air this month.

Müller Offer

Get your free Müller merchandising pack

Müller Dairy has produced a new convenience merchandising pack for 2010. As well as providing top tips for boosting sales and useful promotional point-of-sale material, the packs contain details of a competition giving retailers the opportunity to win Love2Shop vouchers for putting the contents of the packs to good use and creating the best yogurt and chilled pot dessert displays.

Retailers can obtain a free pack by emailing their name and store address to Packs are subject to availability.