Although Christmas is still a few weeks away, canny retailers are already turning their thoughts to 2020 and the occasions that stack up in the first few months of the year. In 2020 Valentine’s Day (February 14) falls on a Friday making it a better day for a celebration, whether going out or staying in. Levi Boorer, customer development director at Ferrero, says the big shift to in-home eating, as a result of a lack of consumer confidence, is an underlying trend driving Valentine’s Day. "Nearly 40% of people made a special meal at home for Valentine’s Day last year and far fewer people went out for a meal, at just 24% (Kantar and Alco-Vision data). Coupled with this, of all the spring occasions, Valentine’s Day tends to be the most last minute so smaller retailers should be brave enough to be big and bold in the final week before the occasion to yield the most success."

Boorer recommends capitalising on last-minute impulse purchases by having linked deals across various categories: "Dine-in-for-two meal offers work really well, especially when they’re accompanied by chocolate gifting options, wine and flowers. In fact, 40% of baskets in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day included chocolate (Kantar)."

As an extension of its recent Classics makeover, Thorntons will be giving its boxed chocolates a spring twist with a new packaging update available to encourage shoppers to give an extra special box of chocolates. With over 6.8 million shoppers at Valentine’s Day (+2.0% more than 2019), Thorntons is launching the Classic ’With Love’ box to drive relevance across the key seasonal gifting occasions.

Mother’s Day comes next after Valentine’s Day, on Sunday March 22, and Kantar data reveals that just over three quarters of shoppers celebrate the occasion in some way, with the average shopper buying 2.8 Mother’s Day cards. Says Boorer: "We’re seeing a trend where dads particularly with young children or new-borns are spending above average on their spouses with Mother’s Day gifts. Parents with children aged 0-4 years old spend on average £8.30 more. In addition, 57% of mothers say they received Mother’s Day gifts from non-family members."

He adds that the biggest opportunity for retailers in the lead up to Mother’s Day is the ’special meal at home’ occasion, including breakfast in bed, so he advises to make sure you’re providing inspiration in-store to convert impulse sales.

Flowers and chocolates are the main gifts for Mother’s Day with Kantar data revealing that 40% of British shoppers bought chocolate confectionery in the week leading up to Mother’s Day.

"We’d always recommend that retailers focus on the core all-year range first and foremost, as shoppers trust and recognise the well-known brands for their quality," explains Boorer. "Our Ferrero Rocher brand was the number one SKU in value sales and value rate of sale at Mother’s Day in 2019 for instance (Nielsen)."

Jo Sinisgalli, gifting senior brand manager at Mars Wrigley UK, says that in 2019, Maltesers Truffles was the number one NPD at both Valentines and Mother’s Day with an impressive £2.2m-worth of sales. "These extremely popular treats are a must-stock for retailers looking to tap into this hugely popular and expandable category."

Boorer says that shoppers plan more in advance and are more considered in their purchasing decisions for Mother’s Day and Easter than with Valentine’s Day. "We would therefore encourage retailers to stock up early to make sure they meet the demand for those shoppers looking to purchase in advance."

In 2020, Easter takes place a week earlier than this year with Easter Sunday falling on April 12.

Easter is the second largest confectionery season after Christmas, with the average UK shopper spending £17 on chocolate during the Easter season. Mondelz has the number one Easter confectionery brand in Cadbury and in 2019 the company added £22m to the category (Nielsen).

Delia Lendais-Metral, brand manager for Easter at Mondelz, says: "Easter and confectionery go hand-in hand 72% of shoppers agree confectionery is part of the Easter tradition. And when asked to name the confectionery supplier they most associated with the season, 75% of shoppers named Cadbury without prompting a higher number than any other brand. So key lines like Cadbury Mini Eggs and Cadbury Creme Egg, the number one and two Easter SKUs (Nielsen), are vital to have on shelf."

She says shopping missions for Easter are changing. "Sales of Easter confectionery during smaller shopping trips grew by 32% in 2019, while sales of Easter confectionery bought as part of a main shopping trip were down 46%. This means there is a great opportunity for smaller stores to take advantage of seasonal sales."

She says retailers can win during Easter 2020 by planning ahead, particularly as it is a shorter season; focusing on shoppers’ favourites to drive the category and using NPD to create excitement; using secondary sites alongside a strong Easter-focused aisle or fixture.

For many people, the first sign that Easter is on the way is when Cadbury Creme Eggs appear in shops; indeed Kantar data reveals that 47% of shoppers feel excited when Easter treats hit the shelves.

Cadbury Creme Egg was the number one-branded countline in the first three months of 2019, with sales worth £57m (Nielsen). For 2020, there is a new content platform and campaign hub, designed to host content purposely produced to elevate the Creme Egg eating experience. In addition, shoppers have the chance to win up to £10,000 or hundreds of entertainment vouchers by purchasing a single Creme Egg. They then need to head online to and snap a picture. The new campaign will be supported by in-store activation and out-of-home activity to drive excitement through the Easter season.

The Maltesers Bunny is another hugely popular self-eat product; according to Kantar it has 350,000 unique shoppers. In 2020, the product will be backed by a light-hearted advertising campaign featuring the Bunnies escaping the factory and a plea to the nation to ’See them, catch them, eat them’. Meanwhile, in-store shoppers can win daring days out if they help contain the breakout. Coming in late January, will be Snapchat’s first branded augmented reality scavenger hunt, where the best Bunny catchers can win cash prizes up to £5,000.

While Easter sales start with smaller self-eat treats, they typically finish with sales of much bigger eggs. Mondelez calls the period between Mother’s Day and Easter weekend the ’gifting finish’ and points to Nielsen data for sales during this period which were worth nearly £300m in 2019.

Says Lendais-Metral: "In 2019, the Gifting Finish section of the Easter season accounted for 56% of total sales. For shoppers it becomes about families, and shell egg sales shift to larger, more gift-worthy options. To win during the Gifting Finish, you need to ensure you stock the whole portfolio."

Shaking up your shelves

Paul Hargreaves, CEO at Cotswold Fayre, believes it’s important to add value to the spring occasions by offering products that really capture consumers’ attention.
"For 2020 we have included more top-quality children’s gifts, as requested by retailers," he says. "Products like the gift bags of jellies and marshmallows from Sweet Boutique, chocolate character gifts from Confiserie Weibler are sure to be favourites for the coming season.
"Retailers asked that for 2020 we stock a range of premium gifts offering a wider price point. With spring confectionery being predominantly focused on buying for children and families, we have included a range of great tasting products including candies and chocolate lollipops which really does offer something for everyone."
New lines include Montezuma’s Peanut Butter Centre Mini Easter Eggs (rrp £4.25) in Absolute Black 100%, Milk Chocolate or Dark Chocolate varieties; Lick the Spoon chocolate Easter eggs in three flavour combinations (Salted Caramel Crunch Nest Box Egg, White Chocolate & Raspberry Nest Egg and Handmade Milk Chocolate Mini Eggs (rrp £6.25); and Plamil’s range of organic, dairy-free So Free Easter eggs in milk, dark and white chocolate variants, with no added sugar (rrp £5.80).
In line with the company’s environmental credentials, and constant drive to minimise the impact of its supply chain in the environment, the 2020 spring range has a big focus on plastic free and biodegradable packaging, to further appeal to consumers.

Retailer view Reece Todd, assistant manager, Stevenson Forecourt, Northallerton:

"We always have a good display of flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. However, Easter is a bigger event for us. It can be difficult with the supermarkets selling so many Easter eggs so cheaply but we still do well. I think that’s because we have a good range at good prices. We put Creme Eggs out on shelf as soon as we get them and people start buying them straight away but with the bigger Easter eggs we get a lot of last- minute purchases and do well then."

new products

Cadbury Dairy Milk Orange Mousse Bunny is joining Cadbury Dairy Milk Vanilla Mousse Bunny. The 30g self-treat product contains only 98 calories, so will be key for parents looking for small permissable treats for their children.
The 240g Ferrero Collection Egg includes six Ferrero Collection chocolates (Ferrero Rocher, Ferrero Rondnoir and Raffaello).
Galaxy Enchanted Eggs are a new take on the classic Galaxy Golden Eggs. These new on- trend rose-gold mini eggs will be supported by an innovative marketing campaign across Facebook and Instagram.
Mondelz is launching the new Heritage Collection comprising Fry’s Turkish Delight, Fry’s Chocolate Cream, Bournville and Maynards Bassetts Wine Gums. All products contain one 110g egg and one single of the relevant product.
For many consumers, the first sight of Cadbury Creme Eggs in-store signals Easter is on the way. Cadbury Creme Egg was the number one-branded countline in the first three months of 2019, with sales worth £57m (Nielsen). In 2020 it will be supported by activity where shoppers have the chance to win up to £10,00 simply for snapping a photo.