Olivia Gagan looks into the items that will appeal to a broad range of shoppers on the increasingly popular Big Night In occasion
As the nights draw in, temperatures drop and the long summer of 2018 becomes a mere memory, evenings at home on the sofa suddenly become a lot more appealing.
A Big Night In is fast becoming an essential way for consumers to relax and socialise with loved ones, or reward themselves after a long week at work. We spoke to some of the UK’s leading suppliers about how you can make the most of this opportunity to drive sales.
Think of a Big Night In, and you might think of pizzas, sharing bags of crisps and bottles of soft drinks. There is no doubt these are some of the most popular products for this occasion, but the way people are staying in is constantly expanding and evolving.
The Big Night In opportunity has grown because consumers are looking to gain all the social and experiential aspects of a trip out, but on a budget. “Although at home, people are often looking to spend less than on a night out,” says Christian Sarginson, brand controller at Global Brands. “But they will spend money on the right things, like recreating the experiences of a night out, personalised for their homes.”
Lauren George, brand and trade PR manager at Mars Wrigley Confectionery UK, believes we all have different ideas of what constitutes a good night in – and that is where wholesalers can make gains. “There are now a number of different occasions that can be classified as a night in, from a planned evening together, to a more spontaneous fun night in with friends.”
Young adults and student nights in will have different product needs to a family night in, for instance. “[Young people] are becoming savvy money savers,” Sarginson says. “Big Night In products are emerging to cater to this demographic. Our VK Electric mixed packs contain a branded power-bank for millennials and students who want to charge their phones as they lounge and scroll during the Big Night In.”
Tap into events
Looking ahead and planning around major events can pay dividends when it comes to maximising the Big Night In opportunity. Simon Harrison, customer marketing director at Coca-Cola European Partners, notes: “Tapping into big TV events such as X Factor or Strictly Come Dancing, as well as reality shows such as Love Island, can help to increase sales.”
Andy Mutton, managing director at Storck UK, also advises you to keep on top of upcoming events. “The Big Night In occasion will be particularly popular around certain times,” he says. “Make sure you are prepared when large sporting events are coming up, TV series are coming to an end or there are big national events being televised, such as a royal wedding.”
As the Big Night In concept becomes broader, consumers’ tastes are also widening. Stocking treating as well as healthy options will enable your retailers to meet as many customer demands
Matt Collins, sales director for convenience, wholesale, discounters and foodservice at KP Snacks, says: “We know from our research that the decision spectrum could start at fruit at one end and extend to chocolate.”
At the indulgent end of the scale, Nick Widdowson, Partners for Growth’s merchandising and creative controller, says: “Demand for ice cream as an evening treat grows as the weather gets colder, so stocking bestselling lines is crucial. NPD drives excitement into the category when people are ‘treat-focused’. Make sure promotional material is colourful and displayed so that customers can see it.”
For healthier Big Night In products, Debbie King, director of commercial sales and marketing at Cofresh, says Indian snacks, free-from goods, vegan ranges and plant-based snacks are becoming increasingly relevant.
“Consumer demand for free-from and healthier snacking is a key opportunity,” she says. “Not only has demand grown for a wider range of snacks, but many of today’s consumers – especially millennials – have health at the top of their agendas, and are actively seeking out great-tasting healthier snacks in preference to more traditional products.”
Little and large
Just as Big Night In trends now encompass both treat and healthy products, product formats are also becoming increasingly polarised. Mars’ George notes: “The popularity of confectionery share bags continues, as consumers continue to keep a tight hold on their purse strings. We are seeing large block and pouches continue to play a significant role as more consumers look for better value – but as well as large blocks, bite-size formats continue to be popular with consumers.”
Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Mondelez International, says: “Tablets play a big role in the Big Night In trend and are in growth.”
It is the same story with soft drinks: share-size litre formats, multipacks and small individual cans are all popular. Trystan Farnworth, commercial director, convenience and impulse at Britvic, says this can be explained by the fact that “at-home occasions can take a variety of forms, including with kids, with friends and family or with partners”. As a result, he advises stocking a mix of formats. “Carbonated and adult soft drinks such as J2O are the ideal soft drinks when having people over,” he notes. “Larger sharing formats, such as 1.5l or 2l bottles of brands such as Pepsi Max, are often bought as an alternative to alcohol and also make great mixers, while multipack products of drinks such as Fruit Shoot are great for kids’ occasions.”
A Big Night In can comprise soft drinks, meals, snacks and confectionery, making it an occasion ripe for cross-category deals. “Consumers are willing to pay a premium for new or favourite snacks, while cross-category promotions are a great way to encourage retailers to offer a one-stop shop for people looking to buy into multiple categories such as wine, beer, soft drinks and snacks,” says Cofresh’s King. “Clear messaging of cross-category deals, and interrupting the shopper with clear snacking zones either in-depot or online, will also help drive an uplift in sales.”
“With TV boxsets, film and sport, and on-demand streaming services becoming increasingly popular, staying in is the new going out. This means snacking moments are as much about relaxing and being social as they are about eating. Crisps, beer, soft drinks, hot drinks, bagged snacks and pizza are popular across the board, but the Big Night In is not just about beer and crisps. Treating and snacking is increasing in other categories. Pot snacks and ice cream tubs, for example, are increasing in sales. The UK population is becoming increasingly diverse – and consumers’ Big Night In tastes are becoming more adventurous.”
“Our Big Night In is a separate section to the rest of our snacking products. We bring larger, grab-bag packets of crisps and snacks together with soft drinks. Pringles are a key bestseller, as are Mackie’s crisps, a local brand. The majority of Big Night In sales are made on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”
“We used to stock £1 sharing bags but I have been stocking bigger formats across the Big Night In categories as that is what customers are seeing in the supermarkets. We only used to stock 100g Cadbury and now we stock 200g – and it sells. We also sell large-format 660ml bottles of Stella, Heineken and Becks on a three-for-£5 deal.”
“We think premium vodka will be the next at-home renaissance. In the past year, we have listed two premium vodkas – Cîroc and Thunder Toffee Vodka. It follows a general trend of spirits premiumising – people are willing to pay more than in the past for drinks they make themselves at home.”
“We do a lot to try to drive impulse sales. Products which can be attached to clip strips are always good. We use them to encourage cross-category purchases for Big Night In store visits – for example, we have clip strips of crisps, nuts and snacks on shelves in the alcohol aisle.”
1.Mark your calendar – Big Night In occasions are often centred around TV events such as major sports finals, series finales and seasonal specials.
2. Cross-categorise – Group products together across categories to make it easier for retailers to find and order what they need.
3. Make room for healthy options – Tastes are changing, so consider offering vegan, free-from and low-calorie options to meet growing interest in healthier nights.
4. Make the most of students – Millennials are big convenience and impulse shoppers, and want items such as ready-made cocktails and sharing bags of crisps.
5. Size matters – Cater for as many needs as possible by offering a variety of formats, from multipacks to share-size bottles, and chocolate sharing blocks to bite-size bags.