Buyer’s Diary

== monday ==

It wasn’t just the revival of Wispa but a return to favour for CDM and a buoyant gum market that helped Cadbury’s significant sales and profit gains over the past year.

Some say the nation turns to chocolate in a recession and possibly baked beans and Tommy K, too, given the third quarter increased profits at Heinz. Whatever the explanation, it is great to have some positive news to counteract the gloom and doom created by disasters in the world of banking and finance.

Coca Cola’s Schweppes Abbey Well is wasting no time to explore it sponsorship as the official water of the 2012 Olympic Games. The free swim is a nice touch. Will its third major UK venture into bottled water finally tap into this dynamic market?

If Magner’s believes its new pear cider has a good future then the company must address its investment into the independent sector. Redundancies in Ireland and withdrawal from Rugby sponsorship reflect the difficulties the company has gone through, but the cider category is vital to us and Magner’s needs to place us at the centre of any new marketing campaign.

== tuesday ==

We wondered where all Woolies Easter eggs would end up – now we know, and it looks like there will be some daft deals in the high street.

I’m glad we cut back our range this year. If we do run out we can always go to Tesco with my Club Card and buy up their cheap stock.

It says something about the quality of the wine or the willingness of the multiples to loss lead when three for a tenner deals are still widely available a full year after industry leaders said such deals were not sustainable given increased duty charges, currency differentials and higher freight and distribution costs.

True, the recession is impacting on the wine market, with leading wine merchants recognising the impact on sales and profits through down-trading.

Following the brewers lead, representatives of the wine trade have been telling government that further duty hikes in the budget on 22nd April could have a disastrous impact on both on and off trade business with many thousands of jobs at risk … not to mention driving consumers ‘to drink worse wine’, as the chairman of leading wine merchant Berry Bros Rudd puts it.

He believes keeping tax levels as they are could be the best way of stimulating sales, help the industry and swell the exchequers’ coffers.

The brewers are also seeking help but if any favours are to be handed out, London-born Scot Alistair Darling, just like fellow Scot Gordon Brown before him, will probably save them for the Scottish Whisky industry.

Any excise duty increase in booze or tobacco will result in even more profit for the duty fraudsters.

== wednesday ==

We can be forgiven for missing out on British Pie Week but should feel a little ashamed at our meagre efforts to embrace Fairtrade Fortnight.

Our promotional thinking is too heavily reliant on suppliers investment than on consumer interest and the wholesale sector, of all people, should want to support this campaign to deliver a trade system based on justice and fairness.

Diary note: Don’t forget National Doughnutt Week 9th – 16th May.

According to Britvic, the launch of Juicy Drench, the new drink made with Drench spring water and 8% fruit juice is, in marketing speak, “designed to fill a consumer gap in the adult juice drinks market by providing a great-tasting modern, refreshing, more natural juice drink at an affordable mainstream price consumers can glug back”. A pound;5.5m marketing campaign including TV, in-store activity will support the launch. Can we have some of this, please?

Walkers can’t afford to sit back and let Kettle, Tyrell’s and Burt’s drive the premium crisps market but its new Red Sky brand is going to have to taste very good indeed to unseat its rivals, particularly given its premium price point.

== thursday ==

Such was the demand for the M S ‘Dine in for pound;10′ Sunday lunch (including a bottle of wine) in my local branch they were sold out by 10 o’clock on Saturday morning.

This is not the first time I have experienced non-availability of a widely advertised promotional offer. Tesco and Sainsbury’s often fail to come up with the goods I wanted. In the cash and carry our major promotions last three weeks and woe betide if we run out of stock. The boss doesn’t like that at all. Question: Do multiples deliberately under order to minimise margin losses – as well as masking end of promotion price rises as revealed in The Grocer recently?

“Thar goes my wagon wheel”. Burton’s say the 1970’s revival retro packaging will add a touch of nostalgia to the biscuit aisle and bring back happy memories, like licking the melted chocolate from the wrapper.

The 30% growth in budget own brand sales highlighted by Nielsen is a little misleading since it represents such a small percentage of total trade. However, this news sits uncomfortably here because we have been promoting ourselves as ‘the home of brands’ for a long time and depend on them to achieve our advertising revenue budget.

== friday ==

The recent boom in frozen food sales could be bad for our sector.

A consumer switch from chilled to frozen foods is not good news for independents whose frozen food performance has always been restricted by freezer space and our ability to service them via the cash and carry. Iceland’s recent purchase of 51 Woolworth stores for conversion to freezer centres and the current strong discounter focus on frozen foods is a clear signal of a change in consumer buying habits and one we must respond to quickly.

Many restaurants and pubs are fighting back with some great meal offers to win back lost trade. A number of independent operators in my area, together with Pizza Express and other chains, are offering fixed price meal selections with up to 50% discount, doubtless inspired by Weatherspoon’s successful campaign.

Even my local pub is offering a free bottle of house wine for a pound;25 transaction. On trade businesses that don’t respond in similar fashions to the current economic climate are unlikely to be around for much longer.

When I sat back in comfort at my local Odeon to see Slumdog Millionaire I was entertained by several widescreen Kellogg’s breakfast cereal adverts. Kellogg’s use of a wide range of media to promote its brands, from press, posters, radio, cinema, direct mail and now the Internet, as well as employing ambassador’s like Chris Hoy, reminds us that advertising and marketing budgets are now so very thinly spread that precious little, if any, reaches my depot.

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