It’s a shell out

After the self-indulgent treat that is Christmas, many consumers have sworn off chocolate for the rest of the year. But Spring has it’s own share of occasions and causes to tempt them back to consumption. Wholesalers should be planning ahead and having wide ranges on the shelves early. Easter is an obvious chocolate-heavy event, but the one-day occasions should not be overlooked.

Richard Brittle, purchasing director of specialist confectionery wholesaler Hancocks, says: “At a consumer level, we believe that the demand is for more special and gift-oriented products. Parents no longer want their children to receive a huge number of Easter eggs for example and would rather see them receive better quality items and products with some after-use or play value. Occasions such as Mother’s Day are seeing growth in the premium sector and the independent market can benefit hugely from the impulse nature of such a day.”

Before Easter

Brittle says: “One-day occasions such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are very important to the independent sector. Much can be made of a general gifting display with a few bespoke products so that retailers don’t find themselves stuck with stock after the event.”

Nestl eacute; Rowntree says boxed chocolates account for 58% of all gifting sales in independents during spring. Aiming to help continue these sales Nestl eacute; Rowntree has designed new packaging for 2007 involving a removable sleeve. For instance, in the run up to Mother’s Day the 480g Quality Street carton runs the ‘love your mum’ design and once Mother’s Day has passed the sleeve can be removed to return the carton to the standard Quality Street packaging. This helps retailers who are worried about over purchasing themed products that are difficult to sell after the event. The removable sleeves will be on Yorkie 300g bar for both Valentine’s Day and Fathers Day and Quality Street 480g carton for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Sarah Petts, channel and communications manager at Kraft Foods, says: “Spring is crammed with calendar occasions, with Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter being the most relevant for the convenience trade. Spring is vital to confectionery gift sales, as it accounts for one third of annual chocolate confectionery gifting and sharing sales.”

Kraft is launching a limited edition version of Terry’s Chocolate Orange, which will see the orange shape replace by a heart shape. Toblerone 400g bars will have removable sleeves with the words ‘To my love’, ‘I love you’ or ‘Lover Boy.’

Petts adds: “Mother’s Day confectionery gifts are mainly bought by men at the last minute, so retailers should build big, bold displays in male shopped areas like at the front of the store.”

Andrea Taylor, trade relations manager of Masterfoods, says: “Maltesers’ boxed performance during Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day almost matches its performance at Easter, which offers huge opportunities for profit in 2007.” Masterfoods advises stocking Maltesers 400g box as a priority for Mother’s Day 2007.

Bendicks reports that at Valentine’s Day 42% of the population spend money on their Valentine. Bendicks trade marketing manager George McLearie says: “Spring is all about gifting, and it’s essential that wholesalers stock boxed chocolates to maximise their sales during this important season.

“For 2007 we have developed an extensive range of premium quality boxed chocolates, all under the new Bendicks umbrella identity, to meet consumers’ chocolate gifting needs.”

The range includes Bendicks Mint Collection, Bendicks Gorgeous, Bendicks Bittermints, Bendicks Mingles and Bendicks Chocolate Ginger.

McLearie adds: “Early display of our spring gifting range is vital to maximise sales – it’s all about visibility and impact.”

Cadbury Trebor Bassett reports that total giving during spring last year grew by 29% adding pound;3.22m of value to the category. Confectionery is the second most popular gift for Valentine’s Day, representing retail sales of pound;15m.

CTB’s leading brands for spring 2007 will include Cadbury Milk Tray, Cadbury Roses Luxury Collection and Cadbury Flake Moments.

Mike Tipping, Cadbury Trebor Bassett’s head of customer relations, comments: “Most shoppers rely on their retailers to remind them of each of these occasions and impacting in-store displays are essential to ensure they offer shoppers real solutions and choice.”

Robert Rawlinson, brand manager at Tangerine Confectionery, says: “Occasions like Easter, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day all lend themselves to high quality indulgent treats and so are great opportunities for high quality ranges like our Anthon Berg products. This creates a great profit opportunity for wholesalers and their customers alike.”

For 2007 Tangerine is offering its R eacute;my Martin Anthon Berg fudge as a gift bought by both men and women. Other ranges include Anthon Berg dark chocolate with marzipan and fruit range and liqueur chocolates with genuine spirits.

Rawlinson continues: “Wholesale is an essential part of Tangerine Confectionery’s seasonal business. Through wholesaler’s customers, we have the opportunity to sell our products in some of the best outlets for impulse and last-minute shopping.”

Easter

According to Nestl eacute; Rowntree, during Easter 37.8 million gifts are given of which confectionery accounts for more than 80%. Graham Walker, Nestl eacute; Rowntree sales communications manager, says: “To highlight the Nestl eacute; Rowntree Spring range there will be pound;10m advertising support from January.”

He says that wholesalers and cash and carries have to have a large range as independent retailers are reliant on them to supply them, and they have different needs. In order to meet these needs wholesalers have to make sure they have the right range, displays, prices and promotions.

Walker advises getting the ranges in early with shell eggs on display in January. Filled and mini eggs should be in depot in December.

Nestl eacute; Rowntree has developed the Standard Plus egg, which was the fastest growing sub-sector of the Easter market in 2006, up 421% in independents. The eggs feature a treat inside such as the Smarties ‘colouring set inside’ egg.

Kids Special Eggs Novelties grew by 157% in independents in 2006 and Nestl eacute; Rowntree says that these Special eggs provide the ‘wow factor’ shoppers are looking for when buying for loved ones. Walker says that consumers are prepared to pay more for these items enabling the independents to sell them at full value and make full margin.

Cadbury Trebor Bassett reports that Easter accounts for 62% of total spring sales and is worth pound;24m. According to CTB, luxury and novelties are driving penetration by satisfying premium gifting needs. CTB is launching the Cadbury Chick with Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons. Tipping comments: “The launch of the Cadbury Chick will drive innovation within the category moving the focus away from adult luxury novelty. The cute design is perfect for giving to kids and the Cadbury brand is one that Mums know and trust. The price point, at only pound;2.79, will also appeal to parents.”

Kraft’s eggs include Terry’s Chocolate Orange Egg, Terry’s Chocolate Orange Sensations Egg and Toblerone One by One Egg. Petts says: “In order to make the most of confectionery sales at Easter, retailers need to stock a well balanced range that fulfils different consumer needs. Shell eggs are given as a token gift, with the smaller eggs tending to be more child-focused. These eggs drive high volume sales but spend per egg is increasing year on year.”

She adds: “A further area where independents can secure incremental Easter sales is by stocking mini eggs. Mini eggs showed promising value growth in Easter 2006, up 4%, and with the market worth pound;35.6m, it shouldn’t be overlooked.” Terry’s Chocolate Orange Mini Eggs are available in shelf ready packing to help retailers create counter displays.

Masterfoods is keen to push the filled and mini eggs this Easter. It reports that one reason for the decline through impulse in 2006 was due to filled and mini eggs being out of stock, so retailers should stock up on popular SKUs as early as January to see an uplift in Easter sales.

Taylor says independent retailers should be aware that consumers will turn to them when they are in need of a last minute purchase. “The real opportunity for impulse retailers lies with focusing on categories in which they can compete with grocers, such as filled and mini eggs, adult eggs and luxury eggs.”

New for 2007, Masterfoods is launching Celebrations with Mini Eggs which will be available until the end of Easter. Inside the Celebrations pack the Mars, Galaxy and Galaxy Caramel bars will be replaced with their egg counterparts. Taylor says: “The total Easter confectionery market represents a massive opportunity for independent retailers. The Masterfoods Easter range will help drive this growth even further with a strong portfolio which has mass appeal, whether customers are looking for a last minute distress purchase, a guaranteed favourite or a taste of luxury.”

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=== Dates for your diary ===

Valentine’s Day 14th February

Mother’s Day 18th March

Easter Sunday 8th April

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