Every year, people ask ’When is Easter this year?", because it’s never on the same weekend. In 2017, Easter Sunday falls on April 16, which is some three weeks later than this year. It’s defined by the moon, with Easter being the first Sunday after the Paschal full moon, which is the first full moon on or after the spring equinox on March 21. This is why Easter Sunday can fall any time between March 22 and April 25. So now you know. It might not seem important but, according to Mintel research, the timing of Easter reflects spending and it’s a case of the later the better. Spending on Easter products increased just 4% in 2016, rising from £530m to an estimated £550m. But Mintel anticipates stronger growth for gift sales in 2017 thanks to the event falling in mid April.

Whenever Easter falls, one thing’s for certain and that’s that it’s vital to get self-eat items such as the Creme Egg out on your counters as soon as they arrive. People may have over-indulged at Christmas but many can still be tempted by seasonal lines, such as the Creme Egg, that only appear once a year. Indeed according to Nielsen, the self-eat category is now worth £56m and offers the biggest sales opportunity thanks to all the impulse sales.

Not surprisingly, Mondelez International is the leading manufacturer in this category, accounting for more than half of total share and Cadbury Creme Egg continues to be the number one self-eat (Nielsen). Creme Eggs come 48 to a case and have an rrp of 58p.

The brand will again be backed by a ’Gooless’ competition in 2017. Running from January 1 to Easter Sunday, one winner every day will unwrap a gooless egg and win up to £1,000. And it’s not just consumers that have the chance to win Mondelez will match the prize for the retailer in the shop where the winner buys their egg in either Mondelez stock vouchers or Love to Shop vouchers. And the company is also giving retailers another chance to win vouchers with its Take a Shelfie photo competition on www.deliciousdisplay.co.uk.

As well as the Creme Egg, Mondelez offers the Cadbury Caramel Egg (rrp 58p, 48 to an outer) and the Cadbury Dairy Milk Bunny Mousse Vanilla (rrp 65p, 33 to an outer).

At Mars, they have the number two self-eat product in the form of the Malteaster Bunny. The original Bunny has an rrp of 62p, while a pack of five retails at £2.39. Also available are Mini-Bunnies and a Family Mix pack, with rrps of £1.29 and £3.99 respectively.

Together time

Mondelez says that as Easter approaches, shoppers are looking to buy sharing products for guests and especially their children in casual ’together time’ to build excitement in the run-up to Easter weekend. This means things like mini eggs, a segment that’s growing by 3.3% and is now worth £56m (Nielsen). The company offers its classic Cadbury Mini Eggs as well as Creme Egg, Daim, Cadbury Dairy Milk (CDM) and Oreo Minis. New for 2017 is the CDM Egg n Spoon Oreo, which aims to help drive incremental sales in sharing. Rrp is £3.99 and it comes eight to an outer.

Mondelez reports that shell eggs and sharing bags performed particularly well in 2016, in line with the general confectionery market.

Growth was also driven by the popularity of Easter egg hunts, which increased sales in a variety of formats.

Egg hunts are a seasonal highlight for adults and children alike. According to a Mumsnet survey, 83% of mums planned or participated in an egg hunt in Easter 2016. Small wrapped eggs are the key format for these, as well as hollow chocolate figurines and small Easter eggs. Retailers are advised to stock products that can serve as ’treasures’ and also as the main prizes.

New for 2017 is Cadbury Minis Mix, a selection of four popular variants from the current wrapped minis range. Rrp is £4.19 and they come eight to an outer. Then there’s the CDM Popping Candy Bunny, which is a hollow figure that contains pieces of popping candy, which is already a best-selling flavour for CDM Marvellous Creations. Described as ideal for smaller children and for Easter egg hunts, rrp is £1.49 and it comes 15 to an outer.

Galaxy Golden Eggs return for Easter 2017 following a successful launch this year when the product generated strong sales and became the number two small sharing bag during the season.

The eggs have an rrp of £1.29, and there is also the Galaxy Golden Eggs Large Egg, rrp £5.29.

Gifting accounts for more than 60% of chocolate occasions at Easter (Nielsen), with shell eggs the number one gifting format. Mondelez has eight out of the top 10 Easter Eggs and in 2016, it drove growth in the large shell egg format. To maximise on this occasion, retailers are advised to ensure that shoppers can easily find their favourites in-store for top-up shopping and distress purchases.

New for 2017 is the Cadbury Double Decker large shell egg. Rrp is £6.15 and it comes six to an outer.

Mars is supplementing its returning Easter favourites with a new Celebrations Gift Pack, designed to meet a new gifting shopper mission. Rrp is £4.99.

Meanwhile, the Celebrations small carton is available across all channels providing a great option for consumers looking to fulfil the ’gift to share’ shopper mission at a lower price point. Rrp is £3.31.

Bep Dhaliwal, trade communications manager, Mars Chocolate UK, says: "Chocolate has always been an integral part of Easter for consumers and we know three out of four consumers will gift some form of chocolate during the season, so retailers should ensure they maximise the sales opportunity during the Easter period."

Special and unique

Ferrero is confident it will have a good Easter in 2017. Levi Boorer, customer development director, comments: "Chocolate remains hugely popular during the spring season, with many shoppers buying for all ages to gift and share. When it comes to choosing what to buy, shoppers have begun to look at how special and unique the products are and to show the thought that has gone into each purchase.

"With the Thorntons brand now firmly under our roof, we will be able to offer retailers something for all of their shoppers’ needs next spring."

The Thorntons brand enjoyed great success with its Dessert Eggs range last Easter so the Lemon Meringue, Pecan Pie and Chocolate Fudge Brownie eggs (rrps £12) will be back for 2017.

New to the range is the Thorntons Collection Egg available in Nuts & Praline, Fruit, Toffee, Fudge & Caramel and Mint varieties (rrp £6).

The Grand Ferrero Rocher product has continued to show strong momentum and growth within the novelties category, experiencing double-digit growth during spring 2016.

The combination of both the Kinder and Thorntons brands has made Ferrero the second-biggest manufacturer in kids Easter confectionery. To capitalise on the popularity of the products, both brands will have new launches and a strong support plan for spring 2017.

Kinder Joy will make a return following a successful introduction to the market in 2016. The award-winning product, which experienced exceptional sales exceeding £5.3m last Easter (Nielsen), will be supported with heavyweight shopper marketing and in-store displays.

And Kinder Surprise will be partnering with two new licences: My Little Pony and Transformers available in a 100g format. The new large eggs will be available in individual boxes, perfect for gifting.

Spring campaigns

When it comes to advertising, 2016 saw the arrival of Cadbury’s first-ever Easter campaign and it will be back in 2017 with TV, digital, experiential and in-store activity. But it will be Cadbury Creme Egg that kicks off the season with a new creative in the New Year.

And, for the first time in seven years, Thorntons will be on the nation’s screens in the lead up to the spring occasions.

Ferrero Rocher will be back with its Magic Tree TV creative in the run-up to Easter, while Ferrero will also support its Raffaello brand with a £850,000 media investment next spring as well as two new lines for Valentine’s and Mother’s Day 140g and 40g Raffaello Hearts. The campaign for Raffaello focuses on the different ingredients, designed to encourage trial and connect with a younger audience through its tongue-in-cheek script.

Final word on spring goes to Boorer: "Whether it is for gifting or sharing or simply to be enjoyed at home with loved ones, we encourage retailers to plan and to start stocking up in January to meet shoppers’ needs for spring.

"We would always recommend that retailers utilise the pos solutions that are made available to maximise sales and capture shoppers’ attention with eye-catching theatre in-store."

Facts and figures

Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter and Father’s Day were estimated to be worth £2bn in 2016.
Valentine’s Day now matches Easter in terms of market value worth an estimated £550m in 2016. Seventeen per cent more consumers purchased goods for Valentine’s Day this year, offsetting a marginal fall in average spending from £41.73 in 2015 to £41.14 in 2016.
The average consumer expenditure on Easter products rose from £33.84 in 2015 to £35.67 in 2016.
Confectionery purchases continue to dominate Easter spending, accounting for an estimated 68% of the market in 2016.
Confectionery also played a bigger part in Father’s Day in 2016, with spend on chocolate and sweets increasing from 4.6% of all sales in 2015 to 6% in 2016.
Mother’s Day is dominated by flower sales. In 2016, the number of consumers buying flowers for the event rose from 29% to 34%. This was mirrored for Valentine’s Day, with a rise from 16% of consumers in 2015 to 21% in 2016. This lift was most pronounced among those living in urban areas.
Mother’s Day was the most purchased for event in 2016, overtaking Easter. Research revealed an uplift in consumer spending across all the major events during 2016 but Father’s Day continues to be the least purchased for event.
With the exception of Easter, consumer spending on in-home food and drink increased across all of the major events in 2016. This was particularly notable for Mother’s Day spending, where such product purchases account for an estimated 14% of the market.
Age plays a large part in sales patterns, with over-55s least likely to buy presents. This is put down to the fact that those in this age group are less likely to have parents and partners to shop for. Those in a lower socio-economic group are also less likely to buy into the seasonal events, as are people who live in rural and suburban communities.
Source: Mintel Seasonal Shopping (spring/summer) October 2016

retailer view

Leanne Robins, manager at Central Garage in Uppingham, Rutland says Easter is the most lucrative of the spring occasions for her store.
"Last year we got some special items in for Mother’s Day on a sale-or-return basis and they didn’t sell. We’ve never tried anything for Valentine’s Day and would only do so if items were provided sale or return. But, of course, we stock the usual chocolates for these occasions.
"Easter is a bigger event for us. We stock a good range and usually sell out. We get our Creme Eggs on January 2 and put them out on display straight away but last year there was a problem. There were stories going round that the manufacturer had changed the chocolate and people complained to us that the eggs did not taste the same. This meant we were left with stock. Instead our customers went for the Galaxy and Lindt eggs but because we had to pre-order them, we ran out because we didn’t expect such high demand.
"I’ve already put my orders in for 2017 and made sure we’ve got more Galaxy and Lindt filled eggs coming. We’ll still stock Creme Eggs but not as many.
"We also still do quite well with shell eggs. We stock a range of small, medium and large ones and our prices are quite competitive as they come through Spar."