How can you benefit from the Big Night In trend?

With summer just around the corner, there will be countless opportunities for wholesalers to capitalise on the Big Night In. Sporting events, barbecues and garden parties will see consumers catering at home for guests, with meals, drinks and snacks to share. To maximise this opportunity, there are a number of categories that wholesalers need to get right.


Wine is a major part of the Big Night In, and a huge sales opportunity for wholesalers and c-stores alike. According to Shaun Heyes, channel director for the UK & Ireland at Treasury Wine Estates, wine shoppers spend more than twice as much as the average shopper, buy more items per visit and spend longer in-store.

“89% of shoppers in the convenience channel buy their wine to consume that day and 40% of shoppers drink their wine within two hours of purchase, so it is vital that you provide retailers with a great chilled offering,” Heyes says.

Laurie Billson, senior customer marketing manager at Concha y Toro UK, believes wholesalers should help retailers trade shoppers up.

“The Big Night In gives people a reason to spend a little more than they do on their everyday choices, so wholesalers should ensure they have some premium options in the alcohol aisle,” she says.

Paul Isherwood, head of off-trade category development at Diageo GB, says that to maximise sales from the Big Night In, wholesalers should stock fractionals, premium and flavoured spirits. “Flavoured spirits appeal to consumers looking for variety and are an ideal proposition for the Big Night In, as they can be used in mixed drinks and cocktails. For example, Espresso Smirnoff can be mixed with cola,” he says.

Soft drinks

Amy Burgess, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), says that with 21% of adults now choosing not to consume alcohol at all, wholesalers should make sure their Big Night In offers include a strong range of alternatives – non-drinkers want to feel part of the Big Night In and not just be restricted to sugary pop or fruit juices.

Andrew Turner, director of wine for Halewood Wines & Spirits, says: “Alcohol-free wine provides a more premium, grown-up and low-calorie choice for non-drinkers, while allowing people to feel part of the occasion.”

For more traditional soft drinks, CCEP’s Burgess says wholesalers should focus on healthier options. “With the increased focus on health leading some consumers to change their usual choice of drink, to reduce their sugar or calorie intake, wholesalers should focus on lower or no-sugar variants,” she says.

Trystan Farnworth, commercial director for convenience & impulse at Britvic, says shoppers are likely to spend more than usual on Big Nights In, making it essential that retailers prepare for both semi-planned and last-minute trips, especially with soft drinks.

Savoury snacks

Savoury snacks were consumed on more than 3.5bn occasions last year, with sharing bags making up nearly 25% of all consumption, according to Pierre Jackson, category insightscontroller at PepsiCo.

With big sporting events and barbecue season on the horizon, consumers will want snacks that guests can share. Wholesalers should take the opportunity to help retailers compete with their chain rivals in the Big Night In category, by offering a good range, competitive pricing and special offers.

Matt Collins, sales director for convenience, wholesale, discounters & foodservice at KP Snacks, says: “Placing crisps and snacks on promotion has become a strong driver of incremental spend, with 31% of shoppers purchasing items on a deal, as opposed to just 18% when they are not on offer. This includes scale promotions across all our £1 and 39p pricemarked packs (PMPs) to drive trial.”

Andy Verney, Kettle Foods’ head of impulse, says 82% of all sharing snacks are now 132g or less, and 81% are PMPs. Kettle therefore offers a range of smaller pricemarked sharing bags that enable more price-sensitive retailers to tap into the sharing category.

With consumers becoming increasingly health-conscious, wholesalers must cater for every shopper’s tastes and needs. Gluten-free snacks, such as Seabrook Crisps (which are also vegetarian-friendly), are suitable for large groups with varying dietary requirements. Popcorn, such as Metcalfe’s Skinny brand, is another popular light option.

Sweet treats

According to Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Mondelez International, evening snacking is worth more than £6.5bn and is growing. “Chocolate is still the number one choice for those settling down for a night in with friends and loved ones, followed by candies, biscuits and crisps – so there are plenty of opportunities for cross-category selling to create the perfect night in,” she says. “What’s more, 52% of all confectionery occasions take place with other people present, so having a range of sharing formats is key if retailers are to maximise this opportunity.”

Bep Dhaliwal, trade relations manager at Mars Chocolate, agrees. She says that the rise in popularity of the Big Night In has resulted in sharing packs playing an increasingly important role in the market.

“This includes bitesize packs, where Mars Chocolate UK has seven of the top 10 lines, including Maltesers, which is proud to be the UK’s number one bitesize brand. In fact, Mars Chocolate’s growth last year was mainly driven by strong activation in sharing packs across pouch and block formats,” she says.

Sharing bags of sweets are also a major part of any Big Night In offer. Dan Newell, confections marketing manager at Wrigley, says: “Wrigley’s Skittles are a vital offering for the Big Night In, with 60% of Skittles being consumed as an evening snack, over-indexing against total sugar confectionery.”

Quick meals

Frozen pizzas are a classic, easy meal choice for people having an evening in. With the market worth £378m and numerous new innovations, there are huge opportunities for wholesalers and their customers to cash in.

Clare Heathcote, head of brand – pizza at Dr Oetker, says: “The nation’s obsession with healthier eating continues to be an upward trend, even in a treat category like frozen pizza.” Dr Oetker launched two new gluten-free pizzas last year in response to this demand.

An important way to drive cross-category sales and to increase basket spend is by offering meal deals. Heathcote says: “A number of successful meal deals ran in 2016, linking pizza to sides, desserts and drinks. Meal deals will continue to run in 2017 across both Dr Oetker Ristorante and Chicago Town.”

In addition to frozen pizzas, wholesalers should offer products that help consumers produce quick and tasty meals from scratch.

Cara Chambers, marketing director of Baxters Food Group, says: “The street food trend is booming, with people experimenting with new flavours in the comfort of their own kitchens. Deli Toppers help consumers bring the street food experience into their home, offering great shortcuts to add the wow factor to their meals when cooking from scratch.”

PepsiCo’s Jackson says: “Stocking the right range of bestselling sharing lines is critical, as the top five brands make up more than half the sales in the sharing segment. Not giving enough space to key brands such as Walkers, Doritos and Sensations, for example, could result in out-of-stocks and lost sales, whereas stocking too many non-core lines could lead to slower sales, as well as resulting in wastage.

He adds: “Not only is it important to allocate the right space to the bestsellers but displaying them in a logical flow will help to drive sales. Customers spend less than 30 seconds at fixture, so grouping similar products together will help them navigate the fixture and find what they want.

“Group single-serve packs together into one block and sharing lines in another block. Using clear shelf strips and eye-catching point-of-sale material to show prices, bestsellers and new products will help your customers, too.” 

Retailer viewpoints

“It’s always good if we can buy and sell things on a deal. People tend to like pricemarked packs, particularly for sharing bags of crisps, as they know they can trust them when the price is there as part of the branding.”

Ben Dyer, Debbens News, Waterlooville

“It would be helpful if wholesalers could think about which products could be cross-promoted – for example, offering a reduction on family bags of crisps and soft drinks and coupling them together as a multibuy. Having some point-of-sale material and posters we can use to promote offers would be great, too.”

Anish Parekh, Broadoak Road Londis and Post Office, Ashton-Under-Lyne

“I’d like better point-of-sale material for big events. We don’t do enough in-store theatre as suppliers don’t offer it. There are so many occasions these days and we don’t want to miss out. We’d like to build displays and for wholesalers to suggest products to include.”

Dennis Williams, Premier Broadway, Edinburgh

“It would be great if wholesalers could offer particular products that sell well throughout the year. For example, the pouches of chocolates like Celebrations that come out at Christmas – for us, that would be an all-year-round line. The Malteser fun-size products would do well any time, too.”

Jacqui Bailey, Spar London Road Bakery, Boston


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