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Early birds

Some of your customers might groan at the sight of Easter eggs out so soon after Christmas, but it seems getting your Easter range out early is key to more sales. Indeed according to Kantar Worldpanel data, last year 8.3 million households bought Easter confectionery early in the season and 80% of them went on to buy it again later on. Retailers are therefore advised to stock up on Easter impulse lines now, but they need to remember that 50% of all sales are still made later in the season, highlighting the importance of availability right up to Easter Sunday.

Mondelez recommends that forecourts get off to a fast start this month by stocking self-eat products for shoppers looking to buy themselves a seasonal treat. In February it recommends introducing sharing products, then in March leading up to Easter Sunday on March 27 your range should be completed with a 'fanfare finish' with a small shell egg and gifting range for top-up gift sales.

Mondelez says that for convenience retailers, success is all about making seasonal confectionery stand out and capturing any impulse opportunities. And the company believes there is still a place for shell eggs in convenience stores for top-up and distress purchases so it advises retailers to concentrate on stocking customer favourites in the medium shell egg size to help maximise sales.

Back to self-eat, and Cadbury Creme Egg remains the UK's number one self-eat product at Easter (Nielsen data). Mondelez reports that it had a strong season in 2015 with a high-profile TV and outdoor campaign, which was seen by 78% of people, supported by a Facebook campaign that was seen by over 12m people. As a result, the brand generated £29m-worth of sales, which is more than the rest of the self-eat segment combined (Nielsen).

This year you can expect more of the same as Creme Egg will be backed by a £4m marketing investment including TV, digital, PR, in-store and outdoor activity.

Cadbury Mini Eggs was another brand that had a good 2015 it was the second biggest Easter confectionery brand (Nielsen), and its Handy Bag was the best-selling Easter product for the third year in a row, worth £21.8m. No surprise then that the Handy Bag will return for 2016 along with tubes and a gift egg pack.

As well as the old favourites, Cadbury does have something new for this year its Cadbury Dairy Milk Bunny range of top-up gifts that's been developed to drive incremental sales. There are three packs: a small and large hollow bunny and a pack of five mini hollow bunnies. Also available is a pack of five Cadbury Dairy Milk mini hollow Freddos.

Overall, consumers will notice that Cadbury has a new look for Easter using one key seasonal icon the purple egg. The new design combines Cadbury purple with yellow and includes an illustration of an egg cracking open and releasing the first warm rays of sunshine.

Golden opportunity

The big news from Mars Chocolate UK is the launch of Galaxy Golden Eggs comprising Galaxy chocolate with crunchy caramel pieces wrapped in gold foil. They are available in 80g bags (rrp £1.30) and also in a large egg, rrp £5.29. Bep Dhaliwal, trade communications manager at Mars Chocolate UK, says: "With sharing occasions set to boost Easter sales this year, we recommend retailers stock up on products like the new Galaxy Golden Eggs to grow their sales by capitalising on this trend and offering their customers something new."

Meanwhile, the number two self-eat treat, the Malteaster Bunny, continues to be popular with consumers of all ages. For 2016, it is available as a single self-eat treat, in small, large and extra large eggs and in a bag of mini bunnies. But it also features in the new Malteaster Family Mix, which includes four Malteaster bunnies, six mini bunnies and two fun-size bags of Maltesers (rrp £3.99).

At Nestlé, they are describing their new Black Magic Mini Eggs as 'mini eggs for adults'.

A company spokesperson says: "The majority of mini eggs packs are designed to appeal to shoppers with children, however 67% of mini eggs shoppers do not have children (Kantar). Thus there is a huge opportunity for a more grown-up offering. Dark chocolate is bought by 65% of households in the UK and sales of dark chocolate Easter eggs grew 13% in 2015. Black Magic, the UK's number one dark boxed chocolate, aims to tap into this popularity with a more premium mini eggs offering to appeal to an older, more upmarket demographic."

Meanwhile, the company says it was successful in attracting new consumers into Easter confectionery last year. For example, it reports that its Aero Bubbly Egg was a big hit with 86% of shoppers who bought it being new to the brand. In particular, it was successful in drawing in older shoppers.

And its three inclusion eggs (Matchmakers Mint, Matchmakers Orange and Nestlé Crunch) attracted 720,000 households and generated £1.5m-worth of sales last year (IRI data). Plus Kantar Worldpanel data records that 14% of the shoppers who bought these were new to the entire Easter category.

Other must-stocks from Nestlé include the Smarties Little Choc Chick and Milkybar Bunny, which are the number three and four impulse novelty lines in the market respectively. And Smarties Mini Eggs and Milkybar Mini Eggs are worth considering as they both grew ahead of the market (up 17% and 13% respectively IRI), benefiting from their £1 rrp price point.

New lines from Nestlé to look out for include the Smarties Chick in Egg a foil-wrapped milk chocolate egg featuring a chick and Mini Smarties inside, while new to Nestlé's giant egg range is Nestlé Crunch Collection an egg with a selection of milk and white chocolate Crunch bars.

From Ferrero comes the new Kinder Joy egg. Launched as a seasonal sub-brand, the limited-edition plastic egg has a tab which opens the egg into two halves. One half has layers of creamy milk and cocoa cream while the other half contains a fun toy, along with a spoon so consumers can enjoy the cream confection. Rrp is 99p.

Kinder Joy features premium seasonal packaging that uses bright spring colours to create stand out on-shelf. Ferrero believes Kinder Joy will give consumers a completely new Kinder experience that taps into the novelty nature associated with Easter products.

Levi Boorer, customer development director at Ferrero, reckons Kinder Joy offers a potential £3.6m incremental sales opportunity for the category. "We anticipate that this launch will replicate the success of Kinder Joy in Ireland where 40% of buyers were completely new to Kinder Surprise," he says. "The amazing results in Ireland give us real confidence that Kinder Joy will be a huge success in the UK as the consumers have similar purchasing habits."

The launch is backed by a heavyweight marketing campaign designed to 'capture the imagination' of mums. Boorer says Kinder Joy should be stocked alongside the existing Easter Kinder range. And he recommends retailers maximise sales by using pos material, which is available via the Ferrero trade website www.ferrero-trade.co.uk.

Finally, when it comes to Ferrero Rocher, the brand is hoping to attract more shoppers with the introduction of a new premium novelty, Grand Rocher 240g (rrp £8.99), which sits alongside Grand Rocher 125g (rrp £5.24). Boorer says it is the 'perfect special gift', which meets shoppers' needs when looking for something to give to their loved ones


Happy Easter from Hancocks

Specialist confectionery wholesaler Hancocks has launched the Happy Easter collection of 20 new products to sit alongside the 200-plus branded lines available in its depots nationwide.
Jonathan Summerly, Hancocks' purchasing director, explains: "Our Happy Easter range offers independent retailers a point of difference to the multiples. Plus, with the opportunity to earn over 40% margin and packaging that stands out on shelf, the range is predicted to be as successful as our recent Christmas Let it Snow portfolio."
Happy Easter lines include:
Easter Jelly Pops an alternative to chocolate, they have an rrp of 49p and offer a 49% profit margin.
Rabbit Droppings a novelty item that is sure to grab the attention of adults and children. Rrp is £1 and margin is 22%.
Milk Chocolate Easter Lollies rrp of 79p and margins of 45%.
1kg Easter Egg rrp of £9.99 and margin of 40%.


tips for spring sales

Stock up on Easter treats now and make use of off-shelf distribution points as treat sales peak in the first seven weeks of the season and then have a second burst of sales in the last week of Easter.
Gifting is a major sales driver at Easter so it is important to cater for all ages and budgets with a range of Easter products but bear in mind that consumers will continue to purchase everyday confectionery as well so it is important to maintain a standard confectionery display.
Keep best-selling products in stock for the duration of the Easter sales window 86% of eggs are sold in the last four weeks leading up to Easter.
Capitalise on the sales opportunity that comes from the buzz around a new product launch such as Galaxy Golden Eggs use pos to create theatre.
Source: Mars Chocolate UK


Seasons to be cheerful

According to Nestlé, the spring 'mini seasons' (which include Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day and Thank You Teacher) are up 4%, driven by Valentine's Day (up 5.9%) and Thank You Teacher (up 17.4%).
Last year, Valentine's Day (February 14) added 650,000 households to the category. Confectionery is the third most popular gift after flowers and wine for Valentine's Day and impulse gifting is very important for this occasion, with shoppers often open to new ideas and novelties which symbolise romance.
Nestlé says mini packs make up 14% of the total spring boxed-confectionery category, up 8% year-on-year. Therefore, a key pack to stock is the Dairy Box mini box, which contains five sweets. But it's Mother's Day (March 6) that's the biggest of the spring occasions. Shoppers rarely purchase their gifts until the week before the event, when they are typically looking for confectionery that is mum's favourite, not too expensive, nicely presented and something a bit different yet fits with tradition. Nestlé reckons its lantern shaped Quality Street gift carton (rrp £3.99) launched for Christmas 2015 fits the bill perfectly as it offers something a bit more special compared to the traditional card cartons.
At Father's Day (June 21) confectionery is the most popular gift. Consumers spend less than on Mother's Day, so lower price points are important. The Quality Street Mini Tin (rrp £3) makes a great little gift.
Finally, the Thank You Teacher occasion is driving the growth in mini seasons, and is now bigger than Father's Day. Sixty-eight per cent of parents say they will buy their kids' teacher an end of year gift.

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