Category Guide: Big night in

The winter months mean consumers will be staying at home more to enjoy the ‘big night in’, writes Lindsay Sharman.

The ‘big night in’ is an occasion that includes many different categories and appeals to shoppers of all ages. For independent retailers, selling products that tap into the trend can be a lucrative strategy.

For wholesalers, tapping into the trend can mean taking steps to promote it to retail customers in-depot. But the popularity of the big night in makes the effort worthwhile.

Although the big night in isn’t seasonal – people enjoy nights at home all year round – the drop in temperature as we move towards winter is likely to prompt an increase in the number of nights people choose to stay at home with friends and family.

Paul Coppin, head of on premise marketing at Red Bull, says that with people drinking less alcohol and visiting on-trade venues less often, there is a great chance to drive the big night in as a sales opportunity in wholesale.

He says: “Within energy drinks Red Bull has five of the 10 bestselling SKUs in the functional category and they are evidently the key brand to stock for a big night in as they offer a premium product for customers looking to trade up and differentiate from their usual weekly shop.”

“Typically, around 64% of wholesale customers purchase from a pre-planned list,” says Declan Lockett, marketing director of All About Food, makers of the Nando’s Grooves range.

“However, preparing for the Big Night In will encourage them to purchase from various categories, driving visibility, trial and awareness of products which they may not have considered picking up before. Snacks, soft drinks, alcohol and confectionery do particularly well in the run up to the Big Night In season,” he adds.

Sharing snacks and confectionary are both significant when it comes to nights at home. The good news is that shoppers are more likely to buy premium products if they are entertaining, so large sharing bags of premium crisps and snacks are a good choice for wholesalers and their retail customers.

“26% of convenience store customers buy more premium products when they are entertaining at home and the number one products they want are large packs for sharing,” says Jim Couchman, head of impulse at Kettle Foods.

Kellogg’s snacking brand Pringles remains a key product for any big night in. This Autumn they are launching an on-pack promotion that accentuates this link, giving consumers the chance to win an HD movie by buying two cans.

Kettle Chips has recently launched a price-marked sharing bag that acknowledges demand for value as well as occasion, and which is available in five top-selling flavours: Lightly Salted, Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar, Sea Salt & Crushed Black Peppercorns, Mature Cheddar & Red Onion, and Sweet Chilli & Sour Cream. A special winter edition – Cheshire Cheese, Red Wine & Cranberry – has also been launched this year.

Popcorn is another popular choice of sharing snack. KP Snacks’ Phileas Fogg American Style Popcorn, for example, has seen sales increase nearly 30% in the past 12 months, indicating the importance of popcorn to the category. KP advises retailers and wholesalers to think about the occasion as a whole, rather than focus on only one or two categories.

“By grouping big night in essentials such as snacks, soft drinks, sweets and alcohol in one space, wholesalers can encourage multi-brand purchases and increase overall spend,” says KP trading controller for convenience wholesale and foodservice Matt Collins.

Both soft drinks and alcoholic drinks lend themselves to the big night in. Soft drinks are particularly popular with children and adults alike. Dave Turner, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), says soft drinks are a big part of socialising at home.

“Consuming soft drinks as part of social occasions with friends and families at home is likely to remain popular as we head into autumn and winter, when big TV events such as popular Saturday night talent show formats or televised football matches hit our screens,” he says.

“The consumption of soft drinks while relaxing at home is potentially worth £76m, with a £52m gap in the market for soft drinks during social occasions also highlighted.”

Sharing is so significant to the Coke brand that its ‘Share a Coke’ campaign returned for a second year this year – with more than 1,000 names on Coca-Cola products, including ‘mum’, ‘dad’ and ‘mate’, all new for this year.

Energy drinks also offer a popular alternative to alcohol. Red Bull’s four-packs are a good addition to a big night in display, offering a premium brand and strong margins.

The big night in concept can also include whole meals and ingredients, from convenience foods such as a Rustlers range of hot naans to Birds Eye Chicken Chargrills that are simple and quick to prepare and serve in tortillas or with a salad.

“We encourage wholesalers to move away from linear, category-based layouts to meal solution-focused layouts,” says Cheryl Calverley, Birds Eye Iglo’s masterbrand marketing manager.

“Promotions based around meal solutions have proven to work well, and multi-buys are a great means of targeting those catering for larger parties for a big night in.”

Making an impact in-depot is about stocking products within these categories and offering cross-category promotions. It’s also about communicating effectively with customers. According to Him!, 32% of retailers do not notice in‑depot communications such as signs, so making a big night in zone to interrupt the shopper is an option worth investigating.

One wholesaler that has made a success of the big night in is Landmark. It has identified 12 best-selling products for a night at home, including snacks and drinks, and retailers can bag a £25 saving if they buy all 12. Brands on offer in the promotion include Walkers, McCoy’s, Doritos, Strongbow, Stella Artois, Fosters and Cadbury Dairy Milk.

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Lindsay Sharman is a former editor of Retail Newsagent, news editor of Retail Express and account manager in public relations for leading food and drink brands. Lindsay loves anything to do with the arts, including mid-century antiques, and cycles everywhere, even in winter


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