Ever the impulse king, chocolate continues delivering significant sales and profits for local retailers. SLR looks at why it’s such an important category.
by Iain Hoey
People love chocolate. It’s a scientifically proven fact. Inside chocolate is a compound called phenylethylamine that stimulates the brain to release a neurotransmitter called dopamine which helps control our body’s reward-system, and is released anytime we have a positive experience. Eating chocolate releases dopamine and causes us to associate chocolate with our positive emotions, and so we desire more chocolate because of its link to happiness.
When it comes to chocolate spend per head, the UK is top of the leaderboard, with research from Mintel indicating that the average Brit consumes 8.61kg of chocolate per year, which equates to 191 individual chocolate bars, or 43 200g tablet bars of chocolate.
Whilst this is a strong statistic for any category, and particularly significant for local retailers as chocolate is an impulse-driven snack, it is noticeably down from five years ago, when the average Brit consumed almost a third more chocolate at than they are now. This is likely attributable to the rise in the nation’s health consciousness and the dutifully rising price of confectionery.
In spite of this, however, Marcia Mogelonsky, Director of Insight at Mintel Food and Drink, is confident that chocolate-based confectionery will always see strong performance, and that this apparent drop can be attributed to how treats are categorised. “The big issues revolve around permissibility and the blurring of lines between snacks and confectionery,” she explains. “Even though boundaries are fading, there is still something about chocolate confectionery that has remained constant. Chocolate is still a treat and, as something special, it typically gets a pass. While consumers may be looking for more healthy foods, they will trade health for indulgence when it comes to chocolate.”
Valentine’s day, Easter, Halloween and Christmas make up the big four for chocolate sales. Now that Easter has come and gone, and Halloween is not for several months, sales of chocolate will likely settle back into everyday levels. But the cholate industry continues to drive sales, with NPD and promotions to reignite consumer passion, as well as promoting old favourites over the summer months to keep sales up. We give the lowdown on all the essentials in each segment from some of the biggest players in the category.
Even amid the pressures of growing costs, consumers are still buying into the singles market. The segment is always seeing some excitement, most noticeably in the healthier indulgencies, with brands pushing higher protein and better for you products. Healthier NPDs are helping singles sales stay as strong as ever, alongside the consistent performance of big brand favourites. Cadbury are currently driving a £6m TV, digital, social and out of home awareness campaign to promote its top five bestsellers among adult consumers.
- Double Decker
Harris Aslam, Director at Eros Retail, says: “Consumers are still attracted to the biggest brands so it is important to keep countlines like Mars, Snickers, Twix and Bounty in stock. We have started to promote the Duo variants of these bars which consumers see as offering greater value.”
Merchandising top tip
Multi-face key lines – this helps to ensure strong availability and attracts shoppers to make those all-important impulse purchases.
Sharing bags have driven the largest growth ahead of other chocolate segments in recent years, with NPDs coming left, right and centre from some of the biggest name brands. Their bitesize format and resealable packaging make them ideal for big night in and sharing occasions, as well as a little and often treat. The category sees no signs of slowing down with Maltesers and M&Ms boasting a 9.2% increase in sales and new offerings such as Cadbury Fudge Minis.
- Cadbury Fudge Minis
- Cabury Dinky Deckers
- Malteasers £1 PMP
- M&M’s £1 PMP
Bep Dhaliwal, trade communications manager at Mars Chocolate UK, says “There are a number of different occasions that can be classified as a night in – from a more formal planned night together, to a fun night in with a group of friends in front of the TV. The rise in popularity of the ‘Big Night In’ occasion has resulted in sharing packs playing an increasingly key role in the Confectionery market.”
Merchandising top tip
When merchandising pouch lines, core favourites should be displayed in a prime location, for example, at eye level on a wall display.
A price marked pack is a key driver in impulse sales. With confectionery prices creeping up, it offers transparency and reassures a shopper that they are getting the same value for their money as competitors such as at discounters and multiples. PMPs can usually be found on chocolate products in every segment, from 60p singles to £1 bags and tablet bars.
Harris Aslam, Director at Eros Retail, champions the price-marked-pack: “PMPs are important in every category and confectionery is no different. If a deal is on-pack it brings greater credibility and gives the consumer a stronger perception of value.”
- Mars £1 PMP treat bags
- Galaxy £1 PMP block lines
- Dairy Milk £1 PMP tablets
- Wispa Gold PMP 50p
- Cadbury Freddo PMP 30p
Offering more for your money than a singles bar, available in PMPs and capitalising on the at home sharing and big night in category, tablet bars are a perfect option for customers looking for good value for money. Nielsen data show that tablet products have seen 2% growth, possibly as they are often pioneers for new flavour variants, such as Dairy Milk Oreo Peanut Butter and Galaxy Swirlers, before their rollout in a smaller singles format, putting them at the forefront of NPD in the chocolate category.
- Oreo Mint
- Oreo Peanut Putter
- Cadbury Dairy Milk Big Taste
- Galaxy Swirlers Caramel Crunch
- Galaxy Swirlers Shortbread Crunch
Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondelez International, says: “We have seen a growing consumer trend for premiumisation, as consumers look to trade up to products which provide added value. We also continue to see consumers wanting delicious treats they can really enjoy. We have introduced a number of innovations over the past 12 months which deliver to these need states, helping to drive growth in the category.”
Merchandising top tip
Ensure you use all POS available to you, such as dumpbins & counter units – these are guaranteed to raise awareness and generate impulse sales.
Better for you
In spite of chocolate being an indulgent snack, healthier chocolate options should not be ignored. Many brands have been trying to capitalize on the better-for-you trend to entice people to give into their cravings for a chocolate treat. This sub-category often features dark chocolate instead of the more sugary milk chocolate, stir in fruit, high protein content and other ingredients consumers typically regard as healthier.
- Bounty Protein
- Mars Protein
George Puro, president of Puro Research Group says “Consumers are interested in trying new tastes and textures, and manufacturers are diversifying products to accommodate this.”
Brand activity Roundup
‘Adopt a Cow’
Cadbury Dairy Milk heroes its glass and a half of milk credentials in its ‘Adopt a Cow’ on pack-promotion on singles and multipacks of Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons, Cadbury Dairy Milk Freddo and Cadbury Dairy Milk Little Bars from this month. The £4m campaign offers families the chance to adopt one of 20 cows and win a ‘farm-tastic’ weekend away to meet their new friend.
A Despicable Surprise
Kinder is continues its growth momentum by partnering with Universal’s latest summer blockbuster – Despicable Me 3. The new Kinder Surprise eggs – containing instantly recognisable Minion characters – are until August and are supported by in-store activation.
Cadbury’s Premier promotion
Up for grabs in the promotion are ten personalised Premier League match day experiences for two, 50 pairs of match tickets every week, 200 Premier League replica footballs and up to 200,000 free Cadbury singles bars from the 4th of August.
Mars Chocolate UK marked National Tea Day (April 21) by launching of Galaxy Swirlers, an ‘easily breakable’ bar of Galaxy chocolate fingers aiming to tap into the 22bn hot drink occasions in-home every year, Galaxy Swirlers is available in two flavours – Caramel Crunch and Shortbread Crunch.
Singles sensations sweeping the nation
Cadbury has announced the new ‘Singles Sensations’ 360-degree campaign to champion the tastes and textures of five of its key singles bars. The new £6m campaign is running across TV, social and outdoor and focuses on the indulgent experiences that consumers experience when enjoying the bar.
Mars looking for brownie points
Bringing together two of the nation’s favourite food categories, cakes/pastries and chocolate, Mars Choc Brownie combines thick chocolate nougat with indulgent dark caramel, covered in classic Mars chocolate, creating a new twist on a chocolate classic. It is available now in singles and 4-packs.