Halloween and Bonfire Night are two of the UK’s most popular celebrations, but they take place within just a week of each other. Priyanka Jethwa looks at how you can sell big – and quick.
Two of the occasions most celebrated by people of all ages in the UK, Halloween and Bonfire Night are times of the year when people can revel in the fun of dressing up as their favourite characters, and enjoy the fireworks with their friends and family.
They’re also events when opportunities abound for sales of food and drink, so it’s imperative to stock the products that are in demand if you want to profit from these occasions.
Last year, research body Him conducted an online survey, which found that more than half the UK’s population purchased something related to Halloween. However, it also revealed that there was still much more that small stores could be doing to make the most of the event.
Meanwhile, although only a third of UK adults celebrated Bonfire Night last year, it isn’t an event that can be ignored, as it presents strong sales opportunities.
This category guide will help you understand the key Halloween and Bonfire Night trends, and how you can achieve the greatest possible profit in this short period of time.
According to research company Nielsen, confectionery became even more relevant to shoppers last year during Halloween, with 2.5m more households making confectionery purchases during the holiday period than in the previous six weeks.
Jan McKee, executive head of marketing at Dr Oetker UK, says that another of the main trends of this period is home baking: “Halloween is constantly growing in the UK and is now worth £86.2m,” she notes. “Home baking sees a 21% uplift in sales during Halloween week compared to the average four weeks prior.”
McKee says that as Halloween is one of the most imaginative times of the year, home bakers are looking for inspiration and excitement during the run-up, so it’s crucial that wholesalers are prepared to spice up their offering.
Keeping up the creativity doesn’t need to be difficult or complicated. Stocking a few key lines can keep retailers focused on what to buy.
Bep Dhaliwal, trade communications manager at Mars Chocolate UK, advises: “Bookend the fixture and ensure popular lines are at both ends to drive retailers down the aisle, using seasonal point-of-sale material to create theatre.
“Plus, keep similar products and brands together as this makes it easier for the retailer to shop as it’s similar to how they might build their fixture in-store.”
This year, Wrigley is extending its seasonal range to five Halloween stock-keeping units (SKUs). Its new confectionery tubs are marketed as being ideal for trick-or-treaters and include 29 individual 26g packs of Skittles Fruits and Skittles Crazy Sours. Five themed flavours will be available: Forbidden Fruit, Midnight Lime, Blood Orange, Pomegranate and Dark Berry.
“The pouch formats and sharing bags are ideal for consumers looking to host their own spooktacular parties,” says Dan Newell, confections marketing manager at Wrigley. “Skittles Fruits Funsize was the number-one contributor to total confectionery fun-size growth during Halloween last year.”
This year, Ferrero will be introducing a range of monster-themed Kinder Choco-Bons packs. The new packs will be available to the grocery and convenience channels from this month, and will feature across the largest format in the range – the 200g pack – with a recommended selling price of £2.72. Each bag includes individually wrapped bite-sized chocolates, making them suitable for trick-or-treaters as well as Halloween parties.
However, many wholesalers avoid stocking Halloween candy, seeing the period in which to sell it as too short – especially if they have low margins or are delivered-only.
Levi Boorer, customer development director at Ferrero UK, says wholesalers should stock candy that can be sold after Halloween and stick to well-known and popular brands.
He advises: “I would ask wholesalers to focus on those products that are well known and have strong TV support and good advertising, as these resonate much better with shoppers when they see them in the fixtures.
“Make sure the products you stock can still be enjoyed outside Halloween – if you have space for five SKUs, make sure one of them is a specific Halloween product and the rest are products that can be enjoyed whenever.”
Popcorn can, of course, be enjoyed year-round. But in the run-up to Halloween last year, 500,000 more households reportedly bought popcorn, with 90% of these sales coming from sharing bags.
Butterkist’s Choc Mallow popcorn is its latest product, consisting of original Butterkist Toffee popcorn with a chocolate marshmallow-flavoured coating. Sales have been strong, with the product enjoying mainstream appeal among shoppers of all ages.
Anjna Mistry, senior brand manager at Butterkist, says: “The popcorn industry has boomed over the past few years, but we’ve noticed a rise in sales during the Halloween season. The versatile and fun nature of popcorn makes it the perfect sweet treat for this kind of celebration – it’s easy to eat and naturally associated with big nights in and sharing occasions with friends and family.
“We’re positive that the Butterkist Choc Mallow popcorn and our multipack developments will be a huge seller this year, for both Halloween and other key social events, such as Bonfire Night and Christmas.”
Delicious, devilish drinks
Drinks are an important part of any Halloween and Bonfire Night range.
“Halloween is a calendar moment that is increasingly celebrated by adults,” says Simon Harrison, GB marketing director GB at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP). Together with Bonfire Night, it provides an ideal opportunity for wholesalers to increase soft drinks sales as consumers look to provide refreshments for guests, he adds.
Nielsen statistics show that as many as one in five adults in the UK is now teetotal, and that soft drinks play an important role in the run-up to Halloween, especially with the number of children who celebrate the occasion.
“Halloween party hosts may look to create some ghoulish cocktails and mocktails for their guests, and mixers are an important ingredient for this,” Harrison adds. He recommends Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Diet Coke: “They’re ideal for party-hosts who are looking to provide low- or zero-sugar soft drinks options for friends and families at Halloween gatherings,” he says.
CCEP’s biggest move this Halloween is its multi-million-pound campaign for Fanta, which will see ghoulish graphics run on packs from 16 September to 11 November, encouraging young adults and parents to stock up for the seasonal occasion. Included in the campaign are plain and pricemarked packs of Fanta Orange, Fanta Orange Zero, Fanta Fruit Twist and Fanta Fruit Twist Zero.
The brand will also be introducing Halloween-themed limited edition 12x150ml mini-can multipacks of Fanta Orange Zero and Fanta Fruit Twist Zero. This format is designed to appeal to consumers who buy carbonated soft drinks less frequently, but who are looking to stock up on smaller formats for their Halloween festivities.
AG Barr also has a range of products it believes can help wholesalers to maximise their soft drinks sales this Halloween, including Irn-Bru, which is available in both Regular and Xtra variants.
“Soft drinks and confectionery are the biggest profit drivers, with shoppers stocking up on take-home packs of soft drinks for parties and smaller packs to hand out to trick-or-treaters,” says Adrian Troy, head of marketing at AG Barr.
Double, double toil and trouble
While soft drinks are vital, spirits have become an increasingly important part of Halloween and Bonfire Night in recent years. However, there still remains significant room for growth in the wine category.
According to Him, 20% of 18-34-year-old shoppers attended a Halloween party last year (7% more than the average for the UK) and 10% purchased alcohol from a c-store for a Halloween event (3% more than average) – so there is a clear opportunity to sell to millennials during these holidays.
“Wholesalers should be aware that these same shoppers over-index in convenience – using their preference for the ‘grab and go’ mission,” says Charles Overin, head of shopper marketing at Treasury Wine Estates (TWE).
He adds: “So within a balanced range of wines on-shelf, retailers need also to stock brands that will appeal to these consumers.”
Research body Kantar found that only 34% of male millennials drink wine purchased in the off-trade each month – in comparison to the overall average of 41%: “Rightsizing this under-trade could create an opportunity of anything up to £16m in the impulse wine category,” Overin adds.
Thus, stocking wines such as TWE’s 19 Crimes could help boost sales. The wine’s name refers to the list of 19 crimes that were punishable by transportation to British colonies in the 19th century, so it should hit a relevant tone for the Halloween occasion, appealing to millennials looking to buy something exciting and different.
Mintel’s Seasonal Shopping Report reveals that overall consumer spending on Halloween increased 263% between 2009-2013. This trend shows no sign of slowing down.
With Halloween being a short season, Declan Duggan, senior brand manager for Christmas and Halloween at Mondelez, recommends stocking a really tight range, having clear segmentation and signposting on-shelf to help boost sales.
With trick-or-treat the biggest part of Halloween and providing incremental opportunity, Duggan recommends: “Spook shoppers in early October by stocking self-eat novelties. Stock a targeted range of bestsellers and innovative products to avoid over-cramming the fixture.
“And on the day or a few days before 31 October itself, how about creating some extra theatre and getting your staff to dress-up?”
“We stock Halloween candy on a sell and return basis, otherwise we get stuck with it for a year and it can take a hit on margins.
“We don’t get category support from brands as I guess it’s only for one day a year, but I would like it if they offered.”
Nishi Patel, Londis, Dartford, Kent
“We normally start to stock a week before Halloween, as we’re predominantly an alcohol store. We find that our sales rise, as the period is busy with people planning parties in the run-up. Most popular are the 12-packs of cider and beer.”
Mital Patel, Bargain Booze Select Convenience, Brentwood, Essex
“We don’t stock much Halloween candy. We have tried to in the past, but the children end up going to the supermarkets, so there is no point.
“We normally just stock one or two items now. This doesn’t worry us much, anyway, because we sell a lot of other things.”
Debbie Davies, Pughs@Londis, Hay-on-Wye, Hereford
“No one offers us Halloween stock – I never see it in the cash & carries, so I can’t buy it. If wholesalers stocked it, then I would like to try and sell it to my customers. My customers love to try something new, so I always try and stock new lines.”
Shiva Nava, Sachin Express, Hounslow, Middlesex