Chocolate has always been an integral part of Easter for consumers – whether it’s giving luxury chocolate shells to loved ones, creating colourful Easter egg hunts for kids, or enjoying mini-egg sharing packs around a family film. The nation’s love of chocolate eggs, in whatever shape or form, offers cracking sales opportunities for wholesalers and their retail customers.
Trade marketing manager at Mondelēz International, Susan Nash, says that Easter 2016 was a strong season, with sales up 3% to £354m. Shell eggs and sharing bags performed particularly well, she adds, and the independent channel in particular has a lot to look forward this coming Easter. For 2017, Mondelēz will be bringing back its Gooless promotion, exclusively for independent c-stores, which will run from 1 January to Easter Sunday. During the initiative, one winner a day will unwrap a Gooless Crème Egg and win up to £1,000. Vouchers will also be awarded to retailers and further prizes will be awarded to stores with the best displays via the ‘Take a Shelfie’ photo competition.
The manufacturer will also be hatching a fresh batch of NPD in time for the season, including quirky Popping Candy Bunny Rabbits, Oreo flavour Egg ‘n Spoon miniature eggs, and a Mini Mix selection of egg favourites, to name a few.
Innovation aside, many consumers will be looking forward to their Easter favourites: “Easter egg shells are the number one gifting format, and are in growth by 11%”, Nash says. Mondelēz has responded with new Cadbury Double Decker Eggs and Cadbury Roses ‘thoughtful gesture’ eggs for 2017.
Confectionery giant Mars, meanwhile, has its series of signature products, including Maltesers MaltEaster Bunny, which is available in sharing bag and Easter egg formats; large Malteser, Minstrels, M&M’s and Mars shell eggs, including extra large and luxury options; and boxed favourites for gifting, including M&M’s, Maltesers and Celebrations.
With so much NPD exploding into depots around springtime, it’s critical to offer advice and support on seasonal best-sellers. Leading the way is Today’s Group, which is helping its retail club and symbol store members plan ahead with category advice distributed via its Today’s Retailer magazine.
Today’s Group trading director John Baines, says: “As the second most important date in the retail calendar, retailers who plan carefully for Easter can boost their sales from February through to the event itself.”
Today’s has equipped its wholesalers and retailers with everything they need by distributing a seasonal promotional brochure, highlighting all national promotions covering the Easter, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day occasions: “It’s really important to plan in advance for each event during the spring, and focus on the best-sellers in order to make the most of this great opportunity,” Baines adds.
Impulse purchases are also key: “Filled eggs, mini eggs, self-eat treats and novelty egg products represent up to 90% value sales at this time of year”, Baines says. “Encourage self-treat buys by merchandising products adjacent to the till.”
The case for own-brand
In addition to stocking well-known brands, confectionery king Hancocks says that own-brand products are also important for people with lower budgets, and can help independents to “differentiate themselves from the supermarkets”.
Hancocks’ purchasing director Jonathan Summerley, says: “Looking beyond Easter to Christmas, it’s important to offer a variety of pack sizes and price points for gifting ranges so that every customer is catered for.”
Summerley says that more and more customers are turning away from the “homogeneous” products offered by the multiples and are looking for unique alternatives: “Wholesalers can help independents capitalise on this trend by stocking tertiary brands which stand out on shelf and offer higher margins for the retailer,” he adds.
Hancocks’ best-sellers around the Easter period last year were Milk Chocolate Bunnies, Milk Chocolate Egg Nets, and Bunny Teeth Lollies.