Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski explores the key trends for spring confectionery in what is an important and profitable time of year for wholesalers
As the new year begins, so does a season of opportunities for the confectionery market. As well as the sales generated by Easter, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day also offer the chance for stores to boost impulse sales at a time of year when every penny counts.
“The average shopper spends £17 on chocolate during the Easter season,” says Delia Lendais-Metral, brand manager for Easter at Mondelez International.
According to the company, Easter is the second largest confectionery season after Christmas and the firm’s guidance for it stretches from the end of Christmas to Easter Sunday – a 15-week period.
Meanwhile, earlier this year, shopper and marketing research agency Savvy described Valentine’s Day as an £853m opportunity, with 38% of shoppers expecting to get involved with the event.
With so much potential value available, suppliers recommend stores get their category management sorted early, moving the first products in as the tinsel comes down. Wholesalers that can take a lead and clearly map out the season for their retail customers can gain trust and improve the performance of their customers as 2020 begins.
“From 1 January is the time for retailers to get a fast start on Easter. For wholesalers, it’s about ensuring they are ready for shoppers treating themselves – in 2019, these sales accounted for 12% of the season,” says Lendais-Metral.
In this early stage, 82% of sales of Easter products come from impulse items and because these sales shift, Mondelez recommends a three-part approach from the beginning of the year to Easter.
From January to Valentine’s Day, Lendais-Metral says “display is key” for stores. Items in a secondary location – by counters, on gondola ends, display units and at the front of store – delivered 56% of sales at this time, the company says.
Simple messages like this will have cut through to retailers.
A Creme Egg promotion for 2020 will give shoppers the chance to win £10,000 or hundreds of entertainment vouchers. Mini Eggs, meanwhile, will be supported by a suite of new PoS materials. These are all clear sales points for any Easter-apathetic retailers wandering through your depot.
It is also at this point when Valentine’s Day-themed products have their moment to shine.
Specialist confectionery wholesaler Hancocks stocks impulse lines for this season, too, with its own chocolate hearts (among other products) and Haribo Heart Throbs. Simple gift ideas, perfect for displaying young love, include ‘I Love You’ lollipops and Swizzels Matlow Love Hearts gifting tins, with a new emoji design.
This is followed by stage two, which begins on 15 February and lasts until Mother’s Day on 22 March.
“This part of the season is about the sales fundamentals – range and visibility,” she says. “In a shorter season, retailers must get their sales off to a strong start. The share of the season in 2019 was 31%, up from 19% in 2018.
For Mondelez, this means seasonal sharing and gifting products begin to take a focus.
“We tend to look for one product at a really great price around £5, which can work for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Easter. That way you don’t get burnt by investing loads of money in Easter eggs, for example. Our customers mostly come in at the last minute, but we draw people in on Facebook as well.”
Justin Whittaker, Premier MJ’s Store, Royton, Greater Manchester
“We put our orders in last month. We’re quite happy with our orders because we just base them on our previous year’s takings. The eggs we stock will come in around mid-February, but we have the impulse lines straight after Christmas – we’ll change our range between Christmas and New Year.”
Joe Williams, The Village Shop, Hook Norton, Oxfordshire
“Our first Creme Eggs arrive on 9 December and
they go out after Christmas. Mini Eggs then go out in the last week of January, but we hold off larger eggs
until the last four weeks. We also use specialist confectionery wholesaler Sarunds, so we have some products that supermarkets don’t have.”
Kate Mills, Heath Stores, Tonbridge, Kent
“We tend to follow Premier and have a promotion end for any deals. With Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, we stock boxed chocolates year-round – families always have celebrations. With eggs, in the end I’d rather sell out than have stock left over because it starts cutting into our products.”
Joey Duhra, Jules’ Premier Convenience Store, Shropshire
Mother’s Day presents another opportunity for premium and specialist chocolate brands to cater to last-minute gifts.
Sarunds is a specialist chocolate supplier, and its 2019/20 brochure is available to download online. Boxed chocolates from premium brands feature – from the well-known Guylian and Bendicks to marzipan makers Niederegger and stevia-sweetened Perlège – and have the benefit of remaining relevant for multiple events.
Yet, when it comes to those final four weeks before Easter – the final section of Mondelez’s plan – the importance of seasonal items increases yet again, as convenience stores become the go-to place for gifts, sharing and so-called ‘self-treating’. According to the company’s research, 56% of sales come during this period, making the chocolate category worth £300m at this point.
So, it’s unsurprising that this season sees the arrival of a whole range of new products. In large egg formats, Mondelez is introducing an egg to accompany its £10m Cadbury Darkmilk brand alongside a Heritage Collection of eggs based on much-loved names including Fry’s Turkish Delight and Bournville.
This is to match new impulse lines such as Cadbury Dairy Milk Vanilla Mousse Bunny and sharing bags of Maynards Bassett Soft Jellies Happi-Nest.
This is just a selection of one supplier’s season ranges and, with so much on offer, retailers will be looking for support in navigating what can seem like a crowded spring confectionery market place. Expertise and fresh ideas will be valued.
“During the final part of the Easter season, secondary locations account for 29% of sales, while dedicated Easter displays account of 66%, so stores must highlight their range,” says Lendais-Metral.
Spring confectionery growth
With so much activity in the market, it would be easy to forget that the world of confectionery continues to build throughout the early months of the year as we recover from end-of-year indulgence.
According to Mars Wrigley Confectionery, total sales of confectionery have increased by 4.5% in the past year. For the company itself, sales of fruity confectionery have risen by 20.5% and it has pointed to the arrival of new products such as Skittles Chewies and Skittles Dips as helping achieve this growth.
Mars Wrigley Confectionery’s customer excellence director, Jo Alvarado, says stores need to champion new products such as these to capitalise on early demand. But it’s also important to make sure that they, and you, have these products to hand.
“Availability is crucial – stores must remember to restock frequently. A fully stocked display will help maximise profit potential and guarantee repeat visits,” she says.
According to Alvarado, twinned with this need is the requirement for shoppers to find any confectionery display as easily as possible.
“Retailers need to ensure your shoppers are aware of the choice and range on offer by keeping a clear and tidy confectionery display, and displaying by format and subcategory,” she says.
If this advice seems basic, then it only highlights how clear depots need to be with their retail customers about how to be successful this spring. But it also points to the fact that there are many retailers out there not switched on to best-practice category management.
So, here’s a challenge: provide your retailer customers with these clear messages about stocking up and clear merchandising. Then pick the seasonal items you want to champion in depot and be ready with some advice to inspire them. How much will their in-store improvements benefit your bottom line this spring?