You need a cracker of an offer if you don’t want retailers to give you the finger, writes NIKKI ALLEN
With sweet snacks often impulse purchases, wholesalers are well-positioned to help independent retailers to literally ‘take the cake’. But with symbol groups undercutting even price-marked packs, wholesalers need to make sure their promotions are strong.
“Worth £2.4bn, biscuits is the biggest snacking category in ambient grocery,” explains David Costello, category and activation controller at Burton’s Biscuits. “It covers a massive 30% of total snacking occasions.”
It is the perception of biscuits, cakes and desserts as an affordable luxury that has helped keep volume sales buoyant through the economic squeeze of recent years.
“Value for money has always played an important role in shopper behaviour but, as the current economic climate has put even more pressure on consumers, it’s now become an essential factor in a shopper’s decision-making process,” points out Hena Chandarana, shopper marketing controller at United Biscuits UK.
“We’re also starting to see that more shoppers are opting for products with a lower price-point instead of greater volume, multi-buy deals,” she explains. “By stocking price-marked packs (PMP), wholesalers can help retailers to deliver visible value for money on shelves in their depots, helping them to demonstrate that they’re really listening to the needs of their retail customers.”
Julien Lacrampe, Bahlsen trade marketing manager, agrees that PMPs offer huge opportunities for wholesalers.
“In the wholesale channel, our growth has largely been driven by our PMP range. Last year, we took the decision to go down this route and adapt our products to the current reality of the market and of what wholesalers increasingly need.
“As a result, we are now offering a range of PMPs and smaller case sizes to allow retailers to buy a variety of flavours and biscuits at minimal outlay, as well as offering specific promotions for the channel.
“Our Hit Choc PMP 99p in a case of 12 is our best-seller in depots. It was such a success that we decided at the end of last year to launch the vanilla flavour PMP at 99p, too.”
Bahlsen has also recently invested in a greater range of marketing tools to help draw retailers’ attention to PMPs and smaller cases when they are in the biscuit aisle. “This had a great impact on our sales, as retailers could find the range more easily when our bays had shelf-edge strips, bus stops and barkers displayed,” says Lacrampe.
Added-value not low-cost
But it’s not all about value – sweet snacks have to remain attractive luxuries, says Burton’s Biscuits’ David Costello: “In these tough economic times, it’s logical for cash & carries and wholesalers to think that low-cost biscuit barrel options will meet retailers’ needs, but that’s not always the case.”
In the symbol and independent c-stores, he says, the majority of shoppers are buying biscuits on impulse, looking for treats and added-value products ahead of standard, low cost biscuits.
“The key is to focus on the best-performing, added-value brands, giving them adequate space, and to reduce both the shelf space and focus that’s often afforded to under-performing secondary brands. This is how wholesalers can really boost sales in this robust category.”