Getty big night in

There’s no doubting that the cost-of-living crisis has led to changes in consumer behaviour. But cutting back on going out – to a restaurant or the cinema – has been nothing but good news for the Big Night In occasion. Data from YouGov finds that 68% of UK adults have cut back by spending less on going out, and more on staying in with friends and family instead. Jose Alves, head of Häagen-Dazs UK at General Mills UK, says: “According to new research commissioned by Häagen-Dazs, more than a third of shoppers would choose a Big Night In (BNI) over going to a pub, bar, or restaurant to save money over the next six months, with one-in-three already hosting a BNI at least once a week.

“Big Night In occasions are more important than ever, as they provide an opportunity for retailers to drive sales at a time when we’re all feeling the pinch.”

But making staying in an occasion in itself means reaching for some key ingredients. The Co-op seems to have it spot on at the moment with its ad for two stone baked pizzas and a tub of Ben & Jerrys for just £6 (£5 if you’re a member). And when you realise that a single tub of B&J costs much more than a fiver, that’s amazing value.

Using the power of your chosen symbol group or supplier to pass on such deals to consumers is a great move but not always possible. However, simply by placing BNI products near each other to make it easier to shop them can be a great help too.

Alves says that while premium treats, like luxury ice cream, are frequently added to baskets for a Big Night In, his company’s research found that many consumers couldn’t find the dessert options they wanted in-store.

“Luxury ice cream is the fourth most impulsive category in store, so visibility is key. Make sure shoppers know where your freezer is and display pos. Pairing complementary categories together, such as alcohol and sharing size snacks, presents the opportunity to up-sell occasions like the BNI.”

He also advises that retailers ‘de-seasonalise’ their ice cream fixture: “Allocate space to year-round growth drivers, such as pints or mini cup formats, which have a higher share of sales over winter.”

getty popcorn

Together time

According to Mintel data, 49% of consumers see snacks as a ‘must have’ for an evening in. Matt Collins, trading director at KP Snacks, says: “At KP Snacks we’re tapping into the rising consumer demand for sharing with a diverse portfolio that will drive sharing product sales and provide shoppers with tasty snacks for all occasions. Our range has something for everyone from popcorn to nuts to pretzels and, of course, crisps. Our range can create value and generate demand by meeting all consumer needs and ‘together time’ occasions which are becoming even more important. Independent stores can drive sales by stocking everyday treats to add fun and excitement to these occasions.”

He continues: “We know there is a high demand for premium lines as consumers look to replicate night out experiences at home. Kantar data found that 46% of shoppers are more inclined to trade-up to premium food and drink options when dining at home. Tyrrells 150g sharing bags are key products to capitalise on during those treat occasions or for when a friend pops in unexpectedly, offering classic and tasty flavours.”

Popcorn is, of course, the go-to product for many people when watching a film or boxset.

Butterkist remains the nation’s favourite popcorn brand. Nearly twice as large as its nearest branded competitor, Butterkist enjoys a 36.6% market share (Nielsen). Plus, popcorn sharing occasions are growing by +21% with 85% of popcorn consumed at a sharing occasion (with two or more people present – Kantar).

New flavours help keep the Butterkist range front of mind, such as Butterkist Crunchy Orange Chocolate and Crunchy Hazelnut Chocolate flavour toffee popcorn.

Collins continues: “Stocking the right range is crucial to making the most of the BNI occasion, but it’s equally important to have the right promotions and displays in place to entice the shopper. Retailers can help encourage cross-category purchases by grouping products such as snack foods, bottles of wine and beer, as well as sharing bags of crisps and nuts.”

He adds that the perfect pairing of snacks and drinks encourages consumers to trade up and will enhance the in-home sharing experience. “Tyrrells pairs exquisitely with a variety of wines or gin while KP Nuts is perfectly paired with a cold beer.”

Steve Young, sales director at Asahi UK, says that while traditionally BNI displays have included mainstream beer, crisps and confectionery brands, with off-trade premium beer sales growing by 6.8% in the past 12 weeks (Nielsen) they need to be included too.

“Consumers are looking for inspiration in store to create premium experiences at home. Forecourts therefore merchandise premium beers next to quality takeaway-style products, premium snacks, barbecue, and party food to help shoppers create special experiences at home this summer.”

Brewdog cans

Driving impulse sales

Miriam Thompson, off-trade category development manager at BrewDog PLC, says: “Big night in can be anything from a night on the sofa with a partner, to a group of friends gathering together for a celebration – it’s about making the most of time together at home.

“It presents a huge opportunity for convenience retailers especially as many of these occasions are likely to be impromptu, so creating dedicated displays and promotions on linked purchases can drive impulse sales.”

At Brew Dog, they have identified four key occasions, which drive the BNI mission for craft beer and premium lager:

• Night In (63%) – this might be alone or a meal as couple, a chance to wind down and relax at the end of the day or spend quality time with someone, generally involving food. This is an opportunity to highlight four-packs along with meal-for-tonight solutions.

• Regular/everyday drink (34%) – as before this could be relaxing at home alone or with a partner or spouse, but more habitual, rather than a special event. This is a key occasion for alcohol-free, where shoppers are looking for a drink to unwind with nightly but are wanting to moderate mid-week.

• Planned social occasion or BBQ (39%) – relates to a bigger gathering at someone’s home, a more upbeat get-together with friends on a weekend. To cater for a bigger group with different tastes, larger multipack formats and BrewDog’s Mixed pack are ideal for this occasion, maybe linked to sharing style snacks.

• Party Mood (36%) – this can simply be drinks before going out or a party at home with friends and family – the emphasis here is on fun. Where a four-pack is the perfect accompaniment to pre-drinks, larger multi-pack formats and BrewDog’s Mixed pack are best placed for larger parties.

Thompson says format is important: “If a shopper is trying to reduce their basket spend and only has say £10 left in their budget, a larger multipack of beer that exceeds £10 could be regarded as a big-ticket item they can’t afford in that shop on the day. So, alternatively they will stay loyal to the brand, but trade down to a smaller pack for a night in alone or with a partner, albeit at a higher price per litre.”

At BrewDog, they offer a full range of pack sizes from four-packs through to 12-packs, to try and meet all shoppers needs and fit all budgets.

Thompson says the BrewDog Mixed Packs have been an important recruitment tool. “Our research shows that 50% of first-time purchases come from multipacks, and larger mixed formats significantly over index with first-time buyers. By working with our customers to increase distribution of these formats, we have been able to engage more shoppers to trade up in weight of purchase and encourage them to return to the category.

“However, the four-can pack remains the most important craft beer format throughout the year with 47.4% share (Nielsen), so it is important to have a mix of formats available to meet different shopper needs.”