Christmas Countdown

With Christmas now being counted down in sleeps rather than weeks, retailers must ensure that every shelf is as packed as a Christmas stocking – and that applies right through until New Year.

by Kevin Scott


After a build up that seems just a bit longer than last year, Christmas is almost upon us. TV ad breaks are full of images offering Christmas meals and the shopping expeditions of snowmen, while adults and children have started counting in days rather than weeks. Among this hectic party season, convenience retailers remain in prime position to boost their profits thanks to those last minute gifts and distress purchases. It doesn’t mean that retailers should be adjusting shelves too much, but shopper thoughts will move away from gifting towards Christmas dinner and entertaining guests, so ensure sharing products, alcohol and food ingredients are in high supply will ensure no one leaves disappointed, and by ensuring point of sale and promotional deals are highly visible, customers may leave with more than they bargained for.

Despite having started their Christmas push back in October, suppliers will continue to push their wares up until the last minute, none more so than the drinks industry. Christmas is a time where people like to unwind and celebrate and in order to do that they like a fully stocked drinks cupboard.

Brands like Diageo’s Smirnoff, Gordon’s, Bell’s and Baileys are all benefiting from major marketing drives and the company is working with its retail partners to ensure maximum sales. Rosalind Nash, Senior Category Development Manager RTM & Convenience, Diageo GB, says: “Christmas is an extremely profitable time of year for retailers and the BWS industry so it is essential that the right brands are in stock and promotions are in place in the run-up to the big event. Ensuring both standard and Premium leading products in each category are available in-store will help retailers to make the most of shoppers looking for something different or special in the run up to Christmas.”

As well as focusing on spirits – including a new 20cl Baileys fractional – Nash urges retailers to continue to concentrate on premix. Having grown in popularity throughout 2012, Premix is the fastest growing alcohol segment and grew even faster during Christmas 2011 (+65% value sales).

Nash says: “To make the most of the festive opportunities retailers should stock Premix in the fridge to ensure that shoppers intending to purchase for ‘Events’ of ‘Something for Tonight’ can consume their purchase chilled. Recent trials showed displaying premix in the fridge increased sales by more than 50%.”

Maxxium UK is another spirits company capitalising on the Christmas opportunity with the launch of three Courvoisier gift packs into the off-trade. The packs, which are available at a range of price points will help drive sales of cognac brand Courvoisier.

Two of the Christmas gift packs feature Courvoisier VS, the first containing a boxed 35cl bottle with a branded silver hipflask. The second features a 70cl bottle with two rolling glasses. The third pack offers a super-premium gifting option featuring a 70cl Courvoisier VSOP bottle packaged together with two rolling glasses. Available now, each gift box has been designed to offer maximum shelf stand out, highlighting the brand’s luxury credentials.

Maxxium UK’s Marketing Controller for luxury brands, Chris Anderson says: “The Courvoisier luxury gift packs will help to drive sales in the lead up to Christmas, the biggest time of year for spirits sales. Beautifully packaged, they will draw consumers to the fixture and should be displayed prominently for maximum impact. Our Christmas packs last year performed extremely well driving incremental sales opportunities for our customers.”

Always ready
WKD has a range of activities in place to help retailers maximise sales this Christmas, including an outdoor poster campaign in key high-street locations, and significant digital activity. The brand will also unveil a series of witty new advertising executions. The ads will bear all the hall-marks of the brand’s humorous and highly successful ‘Have you got a WKD side?’ campaign.

A comprehensive selection of case deals will also be available to drive sales and encourage retailers to stock up on WKD and help them to maximise profits. A range of trade price promotions on 12 and 24 packs of 275ml bottles will also be available, and cases of 6x70cl bottles will be on sale via cash & carries/wholesalers at £11.99.
In addition 4x275ml price-marked promotional packs of WKD Blue, Iron Brew and Purple are available until the end of the year.

A little closer to home and as Scotland’s leading brewer prepares for this year’s Christmas and New Year celebrations, Tennent Caledonian is gearing up to ensure its portfolio of brands maximises the festive trading opportunity.

2012 has been an exceptionally busy year for the brewery, with the launch in spring of a new premium lager, Tennent’s Original Export. Brewed in Glasgow, Tennent’s Original Export is an addtional choice for festive drinkers looking for an authentic, premium, local brew that scores highly on taste.
Providing further choice for festive drinkers, Tennent Caledonian has seized the opportunity in the ale category, particularly in Scottish impulse, with the ongoing success of Caledonia Best. In addition to new brand activity, Tennent’s Lager has retained its position as Scotland’s number one beer brand. As the year draws to a close, Tennent’s Lager has also created a campaign that asks the nation’s drinkers to capture ‘Scotland to a T’. Building on the success of the regional glass campaign in 2011 this campaign sees a new pint glass adorned with the funniest and most poignant quotes celebrating the things that make people smile about Scotland.


Making the most of New Year

There’s no week of rest for retailers as the the party doesn’t stop on Christmas night. The week between Christmas and New Year is equally important to retailers. Research shows that 42% of shoppers are ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’ to trade up to more premium food and drink products over the period. This is a great opportunity for those retailers who stock well-known and trusted brands to generate extra sales over the festive period.

Independents come into their own in the break between Christmas and New Year, when shoppers don’t always have the time or desire to visit a supermarket. They are also in a great position to benefit from shoppers seeking last-minute purchases on their way to a social occasion.

According to Coca-Cola Enterprises, visibility is key to unlocking sales during the week between Christmas and New Year and on New Year’s Eve itself, due to fact that social occasions held at this time of the year are often planned very late.

In 2010, CCE and Diageo Great Britain worked together to launch their biggest joint marketing campaign to date, to drive spirit and mixer sales in the off-trade and grow basket spend. The campaign headlined with some of the nation’s most popular spirit and mixer drink combinations, with the aim of reminding consumers to consider spirit and mixer drinks for their at-home drinks occasions. This partnership has continued through 2011 and into 2012 and helped retailers to cross-sell across both categories.
PMPs offer great sales opportunities for retailers, particular at New Year when shoppers are still recovering from the cost of Christmas. Research shows that 98% of shoppers want PMPs, but only 78% of retailers stock them.

Alan Halliday, Field Sales Director for Coca-Cola Enterprises Scotland: “As well as stocking the best-selling products, it is important that soft drinks are chilled to encourage impulse purchase. Where possible, retailers should chill soft drinks at both their primary and secondary sites.”

He adds: “We also know that availability is a key concern for shoppers purchasing soft drinks, and this remains the case at Christmas and New Year, when people are looking to stock up for when friends and family visit. Research shows that more than half of failed purchases are due to out of stocks, with 62% of those shoppers saying they would either go without or buy the item elsewhere. Retailers should ensure best-selling products are fully stocked, as being out of stock could cost them money and in some cases, customers.”
Holidays are almost here
While Christmas TV adverts have become news items are watercooler chat topics over the last couple of years, one which has run in various guises for a long time is Coca-Cola’s Santa advert, and its arrival this year was no different. The seasonal favourite ‘Holidays are Coming’ ad will form part of an integrated marketing campaign, with Twitter and Facebook helping to build anticipation as the unofficial countdown to Christmas begins.

Building on the success of previous years, the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck Tour is back, surprising millions of consumers across the country with an opportunity to have their picture taken with the famous truck. Bringing to life the iconic star of the ads, the truck will make more than 60 stops in a nationwide tour across towns, cities and supermarkets in Great Britain and Ireland.

Helping consumers cook up a storm
Lurpak is celebrating the festive season with a new App to help consumers create the perfect Christmas feast. Centred around the main meal, the new Lurpak Mighty Meal Timer App is a trusty tool to help make any Christmas dinner a success. Available now to download free from iTunes, the app for iPhone and iPad will ensure every Christmas meal can be cooked to perfection.

By simply selecting the dishes to cook, including everything from the Christmas turkey through to the compulsory sprouts, the App will automatically work out what needs to be done and when, providing users with a full timetable for preparing all the different elements and cooking the meal. The App will even give reminders to ensure the meal runs smoothly, such as making sure the turkey is fully defrosted and basted regularly, or when to start boiling the spuds. Rutger Hauer has also recorded a series of voiceovers which pop up throughout the cooking process to ensure you don’t forget any crucial steps.

The Lurpak Mighty Meal Timer App will be communicated in Christmas-themed inner foils found on the brands Spreadable range, as well as through consumer print and a national outdoor campaign.


Step into the freezer
Frozen dessert company Coppenrath & Wiese has successfully established itself in the convenience sector thanks to a range of classic and innovative products which continue to set the standard for frozen desserts  This past year C&W has expanded their range even further with the introduction of the larger sized Strawberry and Chocolate Gateaux which look set to be big sellers this festive period and are great for family gatherings. Along with the seasonal Baileys and Milka ranges, C&W is preparing for another successful Christmas.

The largest categories within frozen desserts are Cheesecakes and Gateaux with 14.7% and 8.9% share respectively. As brand leader in both categories, it is C&W that is driving growth and by leading the Pavlova and Strudel categories, C&W is building on an already successful frozen desserts range.

The company says that while it is aware that limited freezer space makes it difficult to display products clearly, it believes display are key to by ensuring customers get what they want as quickly and efficiently as possible. It suggests making sure the best selling lines such as the Strawberry Cheesecake and Chocolate Gateau feature prominently.


Get Christmas on a roll
In order to help convenience stores cash in on the Christmas season, Kingsmill is launching new festive packaging across 50/50, Soft White and Tasty Wholemeal rolls, in both six and twelve packs.

Kingsmill is urging retailers to make the most of the top up shopper by ensuring that they are well prepared and order in advance to Christmas, and that they also stock up on rolls to cater for family parties.

Allied Bakeries Category Directory, Guy Shepherd says: “We expect footfall in convenience stores to increase over the holidays, with families coming together to celebrate during the festive period. Grocery essentials, such as bread (and rolls for leftovers) and milk are crucial at this time of year so retailers should ensure they order these staple items well in advance, in order to have enough products to cater for their shopper’s requirements during this busy period. To enhance sales further, retailers should consider using merchandising tools such as off-fixture display units to showcase seasonal products”.

Importance of own-label
Spar UK is making its Christmas 2012 own label range more exciting than ever, to help retailers tap into the huge sales opportunities the festive season provides.
This year’s limited edition Christmas range will offer five limited edition delicious sweet snacks: Iced Santa Gingerbread (rrp 80p), Iced Rudolph Shortbread (rrp 80p) both available on clip strips, Iced Cupcakes 4pk (rrp £1), Chocolate Crispy Cakes 6 pack (rrp £1) and Mince Pies 6 pack (rrp £1).
The new own label products will be available in Spar stores in November.

Susan Darbyshire, Spar Brand Director, says: “While mince pies are crucial at this time of year, there are huge opportunities to tap into the Christmas impulse market with our five new sweet snacking lines.”

Spar UK is also running a host of promotional offers across its wines ahead of Christmas, to boost sales during the party season. A host of Spar Brand wines are also available at value prices.

Many of the wines on offer have been recognised by the international wine trade this year, winning awards at the International Wine & Spirits Competition, Decanter and the International Wine Challenge. Spar also won the Wholesale Quality Food Award for its Ursa Major Reserva, and both its Marquis Belrieve Champagne and Gavi wines were shortlisted for awards.
“Spar has something for every wine drinker regardless of price point this Christmas, and we are confident that the offers available on selected wines will entice consumers into stores and help Spar retailers demonstrate their ability to offer excellent quality at great value,” adds Darbyshire.v

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