joys of spring

The spring season provides several occasions for consumers to be buying into with Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter. Many of these, particularly Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, are often a case of last minute purchases, so wholesalers need to help their retailers keep fully stocked.

According to Nestl eacute; Confectionery, 40% of its total 2012 Easter range is completely new. The new products include the Aero Mint Lamb, Smarties Hen House and Rowntree’s Randoms Sharing Carton.

Graham Walker, trade communications manager of Nestl eacute; UK, says: “During the early weeks of the Easter season is the best time for wholesaler and retailer alike to focus on getting immediate consumption onto shelves and counter tops. This means they will not only benefit from the boost of exciting new product development, they can also begin to signpost their store as a place to purchase Easter confectionery early in the season.”

Nestl eacute; Confectionery recommends stocking the core range of products that includes Aero Mint Lamb, Smarties Choc Chick, Milkybar Mini Eggs and Smarties Mini Eggs.

Walker adds: “With the latest Easter Sunday since 1943, a Royal Wedding, unseasonably hot weather and two four-day bank holiday weekends, Easter 2011 was anything but run-of-the-mill.

“Whereas the total convenience channel struggled to overcome such a combination of factors, growing by under 1%, it excelled in one particular area, immediate consumption. This burgeoning market combines filled eggs, seasonal impulse (such as Aero Lamb) and mini eggs (such as Milkybar mini eggs) and is the natural area for the wholesale and convenience channel to focus on.

“Growing by a sizeable 7%, immediate consumption was successfully capitalised on early in the year by the wholesale and convenience channel. In fact, so important was immediate consumption to the channel that it made up 75% of sales.”

Bep Dhaliwal, trade communications manager for Mars, says: “Easter is all about chocolate, representing a huge opportunity for retailers and wholesalers in a market which is continuing to show growth. Mars is now the second biggest player in the Easter market place, and performed ahead of the market in 2011, showing growth of 10.9%

“At Easter time, consumers and retailers typically buy seasonal products and boxed chocolate, in addition to their usual confectionery, and Mars is excited to announce the launch of a number of new products and returning favourites for Easter 2012, which will help wholesalers to create excitement in-depot.”

This year Mars is introducing the Galaxy Bubbles filled egg, designed to build on the success of the Galaxy Bubble bar which was launched in February 2010. Mars has also introduced the Galaxy Ripple medium egg and M amp;M’s medium and M amp;M’s luxury egg. The Malteaster bunny will also be returning for its fourth year and this year there will also be a MaltEaster Luxury Egg which contains a hollow egg and four MaltEaster Bunnies.

Jason Sutherland, Ferrero UK sales director, said: “Wholesale remains critical to Ferrero, accounting for 20% of value and value sales during both key seasonal events such as spring and all year round. Due to the unique opportunity as a key distribution driver that wholesale offers, maximising visibility and impact in wholesale is a priority for our business.

“The value of this area for us is also very significant, with 21% growth year on year. Kinder Surprise is growing at 11% value sales following a very successful 2010 and our pound;5m support campaign.

“Rather than competing with the multiples, we advise convenience retailers to focus their Easter range on bestselling impulse and novelty products, such as Kinder Surprise and the Kinder Surprise Bunny 110g. And, as Kinder Surprise is a bestseller year round, it doesn’t matter if retailers have some stock left over after Easter, unlike traditional Easter eggs which get marked down.”

According to Ferrero, the top three gifts for Valentine’s Day are flowers, jewellery and chocolate, with pound;1 in every pound;6 spent being spent on boxed chocolates. Looking ahead to Mother’s Day, Sutherland says: “As with Valentine’s Day, flowers and boxed chocolate feature highly as gifts at Mother’s Day. Purchases are often last minute and are made en-route to the shopper’s destination, so there is an opportunity to drive sales by prompting shoppers earlier in the season to make a planned purchase.”

Susan Nash, trade communications manager for Kraft UK, says: “We have a phenomenal amount of activity happening in the category this year, with a lot opportunities for retailers to make the most of sales.

“As sharing occasions continue to increase, stocking the latest Easter sharing bags, Cadbury Creme Egg Splats and Cadbury Mini Eggs will be key. The new packs fit the sharing trend which is hugely popular and look to fill a gap in the market for Easter branded sharing confectionery.”

The new Cadbury Creme Egg Splat will be available in a 165g sharing bag. Cadbury Mini Eggs will benefit from a new advertising campaign and a new 195g bag is being introduced.

To celebrate its link in with the Olympic and Paralympic games, Cadbury has introduced the Cadbury Dairy Milk Medal Egg. Also in the egg range is the Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons Egg which contains a small egg, one pack of Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons and a monkey toy.

Also available are the limited edition Terry’s Chocolate Orange and Toblerone Valentine’s Day sleeves with some new themed designs.

For Mother’s Day, Kraft Foods also has a range of existing favourites to offer, including Cadbury Roses, Cadbury Milk Tray, Terry’s All Gold and KOKO by Cadbury.

Swizzels Matlow is launching a Valentine’s Day collection, including a limited edition heart-shaped retro tin with Mini Love Hearts. A Love Hearts tube is also available that reads ‘I Love You’. Also available are the long tube of Love Hearts, Love Hearts Mini Roll bags and Giant Love Hearts.

Sarah-Louise Heslop, marketing manager for Swizzels Matlow, says: “Valentine’s Day excitement is building and we’ve already had lots of enquiries about our new product range. We’ve even developed our first limited edition vintage tin full of Mini Love Hearts. There’s been a real resurgence in retro sweets and they’ve become an increasingly popular alternative to chocolate.”

Kevin Hamer, national account manager wholesale at Premier Foods, says: “Last Easter the total grocery market saw a strong 19.2% increase which demonstrates the potential this particular season can have. Within this Premier Foods branded cake had 77% share of Easter sales in 2011. Cadbury was once again the main driver of Easter growth at +35%.

“The wholesale channel is a key route to market for Premier Foods and the primary way of ensuring our seasonal cake products get on the shelves of independent retailers. We work hard with wholesale depots to provide a range of tailored seasonal products and promotional packs which enables the wholesaler to remain competitive, and allow independent retailers to deliver their own promotions in-store that compete effectively with multiples.

“Price-marked packs are incredibly popular with independent retailers. These help demonstrate value to their customers and also maximise profits.”

Premier recommends its Mr Kipling Lemon Fancies, Simnel Slice Snap packs, St Clements Slice Snap Pack and its Cadbury Mini Egg Nest, Mini Egg Cakes and Lemon Mini Roll as Easter must-stock products.

Beverage Brands has produced a set of informative Valentine’s Day posters with snippets of advice from WKD Red. The posters include lines such as “This absolutely counts as a nice bottle of red” and “Appreciate beauty this Valentine’s Day watch Barcelona on the telly”.

Debs Carter, marketing director for Beverage Brands, says: “This fun approach gives WKD the chance to make topical comment and generate tactical sales opportunities. The 2012 Valentine’s message will really resonate with shoppers: guys will relate to the insights into male thinking and the posters will generate wry smiles among women who will recognise that the observations are worryingly close to a man’s actual perspective.”

Buyer’s viewpoint

Jonathan Summerley, purchasing director, Hancocks

Spring continues to be an opportunity for independent retailers that sell confectionery, but it also continues to be a challenge in the light of fierce supermarket activity. Knowing your customers inside out has never been so important.

With Easter falling late once more, the spring season is going to be a long one and that comes with its benefits and drawbacks.

The long selling season will allow retailers to display in good time and focus on each spring event fully, without them merging into each other too much. However a later Easter can mean a warmer Easter and that can have an effect on sales too.

Creme Eggs will be in demand from January and inevitably plenty of marketing activity will kick in around the key brands at this time too. Stocking the key players allows for impulsive, incremental sales that will be welcomed by the till. Furthermore, small self eat products are repeat purchased throughout the season.

Valentines Day is a “must” for those that retail confectionery. Even if you just put on a good display of gifting items, there are huge and often last minute sales to be had from Valentines Day.

There is also an important children’s and teenager’s market to consider and old favourites such as Love Hearts should be at the fore of this. Put the effort into your display too and expect many purchases to be at the eleventh hour.

Mothers Day continues to be strongly associated with chocolate and flowers. With no shortage of mums, the opportunity to sell confectionery remains huge.

With gifting a key theme from February onwards, retailers should allocate an area of their store to put on a gifting display which can then be tweaked for each particular event. In this way, shoppers will know that they can rely on you to solve their requirements with ease.

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