Getting ready for Christmas

The 12 week run up to Christmas can be the difference between a good year and a bad year. It is a time when consumers loosen their purse strings and indulge a little. The task for local retailers is to ensure they are suitably stocked up to get their share of this spend.

by Kevin Scott

In the run up to Christmas, ever retail outlet in the land changes – and not just by adding decorations. The entire concept of retail is altered as people buy gifts and stock up on food and drink they largely wouldn’t buy at any other time of the year. In short – it’s the single biggest sales opportunity of the year, and convenience retailers must ensure they take advantage. A “good Christmas” can make the difference between a great and indifferent year.

The same can be said along the entire supply chain. There has never been more money spent on marketing over Christmas, never more limited edition products launched or packaging updated to reflect the festive season. This feature looks at exactly what products are aiming to appeal most to consumers this Christmas. These are the products that should have no trouble finding a place on your shelves. So, have a read through and look at which ones you should be ensuring are on your next order.

Britvic’s top Christmas tips
Get the range right: Stocking a broad base of soft drinks is important, including carbonates, juices, stills and waters. Stocking a range of deferred formats, such as two litre colas, caters for consumers that want to host a social occasion at home

Serve it cold: 86% of consumers say that they want their soft drinks to be chilled, with 53% going as far as saying they’d pay more for a soft drink if it was cold. As the majority of soft drinks are drunk immediately after purchase in Impulse, they should be kept chilled

Make it visible: 49% of people don’t see soft drinks when they are in a convenience store, therefore it helps to have the main chiller in a high traffic area, as 56% of shoppers buy soft drinks when they do see the fixture

Stock up: 38% of lost sales are due to poor availability, so where possible, shelves should be fully stocked at all times

Merchandising correctly: Group sub-categories together to make it easier for shoppers to find what they are looking for i.e. Carbonates altogether

Offer value: Offering promotions and value for money are key sales drivers. Research also shows that customers trust price-marked packs more than plain packs, so make sure you have a range for customers that are reassured by them

Understand customers: It’s important to regularly engage with the people coming into a store to find out what brands they want and in what format and stock in accordance to this
Linked purchase opportunity 67% of snacks and soft drinks are consumed together, but only 13% are sold together. To make the most of the sales opportunity, snacks could be positioned next to a chiller, or use display solutions that brings the categories together.

Soft Drinks firms get ready for Christmas
AG Barr will once again be calling on the Snowman to get involved in its Christmas campaign. And retailers would do well to stock up. In 2011, consumers bought four million irn-Bru and Barr special Christmas packs which created excellent theatre and visibility instore.
The company is backing Irn-Bru this year with a £1m brand investment this Christmas. The Snowman commercial will also be back on-air from 26th November and will be complemented by radio advertising and bespoke POS.
The brand is also launching a on-pack promotion across its 500ml range. One lucky winner will win a VIP tour to relive the Snowman’s journey visiting Scottish landmarks including Loch Ness, Edinburgh Castle and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. And of course, Irn-Bru will also be the headline sponsor of the SECC in Glasgow.
On its flavour range, AG Barr recommends that retailers focus on flavours which are drunk most heavily at Christmas such as lemonade and cola which see an uplift of 42% at Christmas. Cream Soda, Cherryade and Limeade are also top performers, increasing by 31% at Christmas. The new eye-catching design Christmas packs will create stand out on shelf, raising consumer awareness at point of purchase.

Multipack opportunity
According to Britvic, December is the biggest month for soft drink multipack sales in impulse, driven by shoppers looking for larger packs for events and soft drinks for sharing. Britvic has a portfolio of products that can fit this opportunity while offering consumers choice in soft drinks. Multipack cans such as Pepsi, 7Up and Tango are perfect for sharing. These brands offer consumers a choice in can size for different usage occasions as they come in 250ml (10, 12, 15, 18, 24, 30, 36) and 330ml (4, 6, 8) formats.

The company adds that retailers shouldn’t forget two-litre carbonates at this time of year too, not only are they drunk on their own but there is an opportunity to up sell products that will be used as mixers. Remember to keep these in the chiller and cross promote where possible.

To target those socialising with friends but choosing not to drink alcohol, J2O is the perfect adult premium soft drink to have on shelves. Available in multipack formats (4, 6, 10, 12, and 24) J2O comes in three core flavours, Orange & Passion Fruit, Apple & Raspberry and Apple & Mango as well as limited edition Glitter Berry for the festive season.

Festive artwork for Pringles
Pringles is an integral part of festive celebrations and for most retailers, it is a must-stock brand for retailers nationwide. This year, the brand is launching festive can artwork across its Original, Sour Cream & Onion, Salt & Vinegar and Texas BBQ SKUs. Christmas Turkey and Sausage & Crispy Bacon variants will also return following record sales for the Pringles brand in 2011.

Whilst the core four SKUs remain vitally important best-sellers, its extended flavour range present a huge opportunity to retailers, so this year Pringles is introducing a new Salt & Pepper SKU to c-stores this year.


Ferrero sets gold standard
Ferrero Rocher’s is celebrating its 30th Birthday in the UK, and is working with its trade partners to offer impulse retailers promotions to encourage stocking in this celebration year. Limited edition ‘30 years’ packaging on fast selling Rocher products and new ‘gold standard’ POS materials will add further sparkle as Ferrero Rocher and Ferrero Collection go back on TV with a heavyweight advertising campaign throughout the Christmas season.

Over three million limited edition ‘30 years’ celebration packs are available across Ferrero Rocher three piece treat packs (37.5g) and 16 piece gifting boxes (200g), the 30th Birthday celebrations will be supported with online and social media investment.

Both Ferrero Rocher and Collection will also be back on TV this Christmas with bespoke advertising to maximise engagement.


Galaxy Gift For You
While sharing products have their own place in a shop, limited edition countlines are becoming more apparent at Christmas. Mars Chocolate’s Christmas ‘Self Eat’ category experienced a very impressive 60% growth rate in 2011. With the huge success of Galaxy Gift for You caramel, Mars has introduced a new truffle variant to drive further growth. The indulgent treat is shaped like a present, with one half solid Galaxy chocolate and the other filled with caramel or truffle.


Festive treats from Burton’s
Burton’s Biscuit Company has unveiled its Cadbury Biscuits Christmas range, which it says will help retailers maximise sales over the lucrative Christmas period.
The latest Christmas range from Cadbury Biscuits is made up of 12 SKUs, offering something for everyone and for every festive occasion, from treats, to sharing and gifting. A number of SKUs are available across novelty, sharing and family. Each SKU has festive themed packaging or is presented in a stylish collectable tin, making each part of the range stand out on the shelf. Furthermore, the Cadbury Biscuit assortment tins and cartons come in a shelf ready outer case for ease of merchandising.


Seasonal bakery launches
Cuisine de France has unveiled its Christmas 2012 portfolio, including three new products to complement the existing selection of seasonal sweet treats and savouries.
In line with growing consumer desire for convenience and on-the-go eating, Cuisine de France is introducing an individually wrapped Christmas Mincemeat, Cranberry and Almond Slice. Following customer feedback that the many offerings of mince pies saturate the market during the festive period, Cuisine de France offers an innovative twist with this delicious treat.
The slice, once defrosted for approximately two hours, can be stored at an ambient temperature for up to 18 days and opens up a huge opportunity to outlets wanting to better cater to consumers eating on the go. This individually wrapped treat builds on the festive wrapped range following the success last year of the Viennese Mince Pies, Christmas Chocolate Cake Bars and the Linzar Biscuit – a shortbread biscuit filled with raspberry jam and dusted with sugar.


A festive filling
Ginsters is launching its Christmas 2012 portfolio with special edition seasonal sandwiches and a special edition seasonal pasty. There will be two special edition sandwiches: the Christmas Cracker and the Cranberry, Wensleydale & Bacon, plus a special edition Turkey, Bacon & Cranberry pasty. These new lines will be available nationally from early November.
As well as the festive sandwiches, Ginsters is also bringing back the popular special edition Turkey, Bacon & Cranberry pasty. Made with delicious fresh British turkey, smoked bacon, cranberries, potato and onion in a creamy sauce wrapped in light puff pastry, this festive treat is part of the brand’s rolling special edition pasty SKU.


KP ups snacking offer
Ivan Cross, Snacks Market Strategy and Planning Director at KP Snacks says that UB research into consumer purchasing habits also shows us that shoppers buy snacks roughly twice over the holiday season and existing consumers who already have snacks in their weekly basket, show an increase on this average. “Our entire Christmas snacking range has been designed so that it’s easy for retailers to display and easy for shoppers to consume. Many products feature festive designs and all sharing products are provided in our new Stackable Retail Packaging, which makes an excellent free standing display anywhere in store.”
This year, KP Snacks is introducing a new stackable case format to some of its best selling sharing bagged snacks (McCoy’s, Hula Hoops and Twiglets) to help retailers boost their winter and Christmas sales. The new eye-catching boxes have been designed with a wintery, snowflake theme just ahead of the festive season. This new format can be stored easily in-store to minimise wasted space, are perfect to create a free-standing, off-shelf display and will stand out to drive sales.


Perfecting that off-trade fixture

With Christmas being such an important time for the off-trade, many major manufacturers have plenty to say on the subject, and there’s plenty of help on offer for retailers.
For example, Diageo is launching an in-store media campaign to encourage shoppers to serve more exciting drinks over the festive season. The six-figure ‘Add Colour to Christmas’ campaign is designed to encourage re-appraisal of the spirits category in the grocery channel, and challenge beer and wine as the default at-home drinks choice over the crucial festive period.

Rolling out nationwide in November, the campaign will be brought to life in stores with high-visibility, high-impact displays, posters and point of sale materials both in and out of the main spirits aisle, encouraging shoppers to ‘serve delicious festive drinks’ – such as Smirnoff Vodka and Cranberry, Tanqueray Gin & Tonic, or Baileys on ice.
The campaign has been developed to target shoppers against their biggest need over the festive period – entertaining at home. Research shows that whilst 50% of grocery shoppers host regularly, spirits only account for 20% of the total beer, wine and spirits (BWS) consumed during these occasions – leaving a massive opportunity for retailers to drive greater spirits sales this Christmas by tapping into the home entertaining occasion. Katherine Abram, Senior Category Development Manager for Grocery at Diageo GB comments: “We know that hosts are increasingly looking for simple, inventive ways to ensure their guests have a great time – and, crucially, we know that they are open to exploring new ways to drink spirits when entertaining at home.”

When it comes to Christmas, Heineken recommends that retailers focus on three key areas, to ensure they get the basics right: Range, Category and Merchandising. These building blocks, as the company calls them, will ensure a fixture is simple to shop and contains the brands shoppers are looking for. Once these are in place retailers can begin to look at more creative and festive merchandising options to drive sales.

Bringing the fixture to life is one important element that Heineken cites, saying that packaging and point of sale are also important elements to consider when it comes to the seasonal occasions the winter months are set to bring. Martin Porter, Sales Director, Heineken, says: “Bring events to life in your store by using themed POS and signage to showcase your offering, driving interest and increasing sales. It can also pay to run cross-category promotions on items that shoppers may want for a night in or Christmas party, for example pairing drinks and snacks, can be a great way of increasing sales.”

Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands (BBFB) is another major company helping convenience retailers gear up for Christmas. Building on the success of the manufacturer’s summer glassware promotion, the new activity has been designed to influence consumers at point of purchase and help convenience retailers drive sales during the all important party season.
Running until December, the activity will see BBFB offer convenience retailers new POS kits and adaptable shipper units to help maximise visibility across key winter occasions. A selection of leading brands from the company’s portfolio, including Bacardi, Jack Daniel’s, Bombay Sapphire, Southern Comfort, Bacardi OakHeart and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, will be available in branded gift bags, created to help retailers capitalise on the Christmas gifting occasion.

Suitable for stores of all sizes, the new shippers will feature adaptable header boards to promote Christmas. The company says that with recent research revealing that shoppers can increase sales by 33%, the new units are set to maximise visibility in store and drive interest over ahead of the festive period.

The eye-catching shippers will hold flat-packed gift bags so they can be confidently placed in store rather than behind the tillpoint. Over 250,000 gift bags will be available, each designed in a way that reflects each spirit brand’s unique personality, displaying information on the brand’s heritage as well as seasonal serve suggestions. As well as the 3,000 shippers, convenience retailers can also obtain new festive POS kits to help further visibility and communicate the promotion in store. Shoppers will also be offered the chance to claim branded giftware with their purchase.

David Irwin, Director of Sales, Convenience at Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands, comments: “The winter months, in particular Christmas, can drive huge spikes in spirit sales, giving retailers the chance to make incremental profits. In fact, 45% of annual spirit sales are sold in the 12 week period before Christmas. We believe our latest promotion will appeal to and excite shoppers so we urge retailers to stock up to make the most of this festive opportunity.”


Snow falls on Malibu
WKD will be decorating this Christmas with its usual irreverent cheer. Christmas paper POS kits containing posters, shelf-trims and signs for seasonal opening times will be available free to all retailers.This year, WKD’s festive POS will be themed as part of a witty ‘Christ-Moose’ campaign.
A comprehensive selection of case deals will encourage retailers to stock up on WKD and help them to maximise profits. The brand will also have a range of account-specific promotions.
To offer great festive value and build sales for retailers, 4x275ml price-marked promotional packs of WKD Blue, Iron Brew and Purple will be available until the end of the year. Prominently flashed with an attention grabbing ‘Only £4.99 Result’ logo, the special packs have great shelf stand-out.


Hamlet dresses up for Christmas
JTI is introducing three limited edition tin designs for Hamlet ahead of festive season – an important period for cigars and a time when there is a potential for increased sales.
The three ‘manly knowledge’ designs, printed directly inside the inner lids of Hamlet 5s, Hamlet Miniature 5s and Hamlet Miniature 10s, feature a stream of etiquette wit. The tins can be identified externally by a “Limited Edition” motif printed on the outer lid and the cigars will be protected by a premium quality, translucent liner.
Jeremy Blackburn, Head of Communications, JTI, says: “The Christmas period can be a time of increased sales potential for cigars, so it’s important retailers ensure they’re offering a comprehensive range to capitalise on this seasonal opportunity. Choice and availability is key – during this period retailers should stock the most popular cigar formats, as well as the right brands, including our new Hamlet limited edition tins, to ensure they don’t miss out on their share of profits.”

Making wine sales add up
Seeling wine in convenience isn’t easy, but it’s something retailers are getting better at, and with Christmas an ideal opportunity to boost sales, it’s worth taking time to take a look at what you’re offering.

Pernod Ricard, Commerical Director, Wine, Chris Ellis says: “Christmas is a big opportunity to encourage new people into premium wines, and engage more with customers.”
According to Ellis, premium wines (which are those priced around £7 and up) are growing 22% and while not every convenience store will have a demographic that futs this, many other do – but aren’t taking full advantage. “60% of shoppers say they would be willing to buy into premium – that’s a chunky number. Take off the price of a lower end bottle of wine and the extra revenue is £2.69 per bottle at the same margin.”

With brands such as Jacob’s Creek, Campo Viejo and Bancott Estate, the company knows it’s stuff, so, to round off, let’s look at the firm’s top five tips to boost sales this Christmas

  1.  Showcase Premium (Make it Available): 51% of convenience store spirits shoppers are not satisfied with the range of spirits on offer. Stock a range of premium brands to better meet the needs of shoppers and capitalise upon this additional seasonal profit opportunity
  2. Increase the prominence of premium spirits displays off-shelf (Make it Easy to Find): 41% of convenience store spirits shoppers are not satisfied with the spirits fixture and would make changes to the way it looks. Ensure your premium spirits proposition is clearly merchandised, especially over Christmas when spirits see the biggest uplift in BWS
  3. Match timings of activity to shopper mindset (Make it Compelling): More premium purchases are made in the final two weeks leading up to Christmas; this is a key time for convenience retailers as shoppers are looking to make last-minute purchases, so ensure you have a big push on premium spirits
  4. Ensure balanced promotions across all price sectors (Make it Compelling): Trading down in alcohol is not important to spirits shoppers as they don’t want to compromise at Christmas – one quarter of all spirits sales in the convenience channel in the last week of Christmas are premium spirits
  5. Bring gifting to life (Make it Compelling): Gifting drives penetration, rate of sale, profitability and trial beyond traditional spirits shoppers. Engage consumers at point of purchase with inspiring gift options and ideas.


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