Play to your strengths this Easter

Easter products

Easter remains a key seasonal sales opportunity for local retailers but with the increasingly aggressive approach of the major multiples to deep discounting, it pays to play to your own strengths to maximise sales and profits.

Cracking the Easter puzzle can be a tricky one for local retailers. Where once it was a fantastic seasonal sales period, the deep discounting strategies of the major multiples, particularly when it comes to shell eggs, has changed the face of Easter forever. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a solid opportunity for retailers prepared to put a little effort and thought into their own Easter strategy.

And remember that the total Easter confectionery market has actually grown over the last two years, with value growth outstripping volume growth [Nielsen, Easter 2017 v 2016].

Sure, the supermarkets will grab a chunk of the Easter market with their Easter egg deals but all the major confectionery manufacturers have worked hard in recent years to provide ranges tailored for the convenience market to allow local retailers to provide an enticing differentiated offer to their shoppers.

Key lines to focus on this spring:
  • Shell eggs
  • Boxed chocolates
  • Novelties

Ferrero for one is helping local retailers step into spring with the introduction of new seasonal products, a bespoke on-pack promotion across its Thorntons portfolio, new merchandising solutions and a £7.9m marketing campaign.

With six in 10 impulsive buyers stating that seasonal packaging is important [Advantage Group, Dec 2016], Ferrero is introducing new seasonal packaging across its portfolio of household favourites, to drive relevancy during the key trading period. To emphasise the premiumisation of Thorntons and create a better-aligned range, the brand has redesigned the products, which has proven to significantly improve purchase intent.

Levi Boorer, Ferrero Customer Development Director, comments: “Chocolate remains synonymous with spring and Easter, with 73% of households with kids buying chocolate for seasonal occasions [Nielsen, Apr 2017]. When it comes to choosing what to buy during these events, shoppers are continuing to look for special and premium products to share or to gift. Treating yourself and others with single serve items during this period is also popular, and with Thorntons now firmly under the Ferrero stable, we are able to offer products to suit every need.”

To capitalise on the desire amongst consumers to gift loved ones with something unique, Ferrero has developed a personalisation campaign across the Thorntons range.

Boorer explains: “In the context of occasion gifting, significant nostalgia exists for Thorntons. Personalisation is a treasured memory, with recollections of being gifted personalised eggs, or queuing to have eggs personalised. For many, an Easter gift from Thorntons signals premium, good quality chocolate and a thoughtful gift.”

Supported by a £2m marketing campaign spanning TV, digital and social media, the promotion will be live across a range of 14 eggs and novelties, offering shoppers the chance to win hundreds of personalised gifts for their loved ones. Prizes include 1,000 chocolate speech bubbles, with a personalised message, and three chocolate experiences at the Thorntons Factory.

Ferrero’s primary range of Easter chocolate and gifting products includes:
  • Ferrero Rocher Grand Rocher 125g & 240g – RSP £5.63 and £9.66
  • Thorntons Nuts & Praline Collection Egg – RSP £6
  • Thorntons Mint Collection Egg – RSP £10
  • Kinder Pink and Blue 100g – RSP £5.90
  • Kinder Choco- Bons 200g – RSP £2.72
  • Kinder Joy – RSP £1.06

Mars is also encouraging retailers to start early and fast to maximise the wider spring opportunity. “Getting a fast start is crucial to making the most of the Easter season and accounted for 80% of growth last year [Nielsen, Easter 2017],” says a spokesperson. “Self-treat products mainly drive this growth and this year will again see the return of Mars Chocolate UK’s iconic Malteaster Bunny, the nation’s number two self-eat product. One in two people buy Maltesers products and the crunchy and cream taste sensation of the Malteaster Bunny is perfect for retailers looking to boost their sales at Easter.”

The Malteaster Bunny is again joined by sharing and multi-pack formats this year, supporting the rapidly expanding sharing segment at Easter, which in the past five years has grown 8%. Malteaster Mini-Bunnies and Malteaster Family Mix are available at RSPs of £1.29 and £3.99 respectively.

Celebrations brings together Mars’ family of favourite brands, and the Celebrations Gift Pack, designed to meet a new gifting shopper mission, is the perfect option for retailers looking to maximise their fast start to the Easter season.

The growth in sharing and kids confectionery are two trends to take note of for this Easter. Consumers say spending time together over Easter is important, with 42% of families saying they often have a family meal at home over Easter and 66% of people tend to spend the holiday visiting family and friends [HIP Easter Omnibus 2017]. During these occasions sharing and gifting products such as Ferrero’s boxed chocolate range play a huge part.

“We have seen a gradually evolving trend where shoppers are increasing how much they eat and share at home with family and friends,” continues Boorer. “To accommodate this trend, we have worked hard to shape our portfolio to ensure we are tapping into the popularity of sharing.

“The popular sharing bag from Kinder – Kinder Choco-Bons – will have a new Easter-inspired pack design this year, to align the product with the rest of the range and drive relevancy for the occasion.

Similarly, both the Kinder and Thorntons brands enjoyed a strong performance during the spring period last year; Kinder seasonal is now worth £17m over Easter, making it the fifth-biggest brand [Nielsen, Easter 2017]. Meanwhile, Thorntons outperformed a flat market, growing at +22% [Nielsen, Apr 2017]. To capitalise on the popularity of the products, both brands will receive new launches and a strong support plan for spring 2018.

Ferrero’s top tips for a successful spring:
  • Range – Keep your range simple to avoid confusion and allow you shoppers to buy with confidence. Shoppers are looking to trade up at spring so offer a good display dedicated to your spring offering which is dedicated to premium brands to encourage shoppers.
  • Availability – Stock up early to make the most of the whole spring season, and keep in mind that some shoppers like to purchase early whilst others will be looking for a last-minute purchase.
  • Cross-category promotions – Providing a cross-category promotion such as Raffaello Hearts and flowers increases basket spend for retailers and offers shoppers the chance to purchase multiple items, in a convenient way.

Thorntons will be replacing its well-known Harry Hopalot Milk Chocolate and White Chocolate Eggs, with a Milk Chocolate Bunny and a White Chocolate Bunny, to reflect the new Masterbrand colours. The new chocolate bunnies will be available in two sizes: 151g, RSP £5 and 60g, RSP £2. In addition, the eggs will also feature the on-pack personalisation promotion.

Boorer concludes: “Whether it is for gifting or sharing or simply to be enjoyed at home with loved ones, we encourage retailers to start stocking up in January, to meet shoppers’ needs for spring. We would always recommend that retailers utilise the POS solutions that are made available, to maximise sales and capture shoppers’ attention with eye-catching theatre in-store.”

Mars also highlights the importance of maintaining availability right through the period. A spokesperson said: “Consumers often leave it to the last minute to buy their chocolate as 50% of sales occur in final three weeks making it particularly important for retailers to remain stocked up on gifting chocolate as the season draws to a close [Nielsen, Easter 2017]. A great product for right through that period is Galaxy Golden Eggs. Since its launch in 2016, the product has generated strong sales and become the number two small sharing bag during the Easter season. It continued its strong start last year growing by over 30% in its second year and looks set to continue this trend in 2018, making it the ‘must stock’ SKU for retailers.”

Galaxy Golden Eggs are on sale at RSP £1.29, while the Galaxy Golden Eggs Large Egg is available at RSP £5.29.

Mars Easter merchandising principles
  • Easter is on the radar for consumers as early as January so retailers should ensure they are stocked up from December, with particular focus on treat products like Malteaster Bunny early on in the season and Galaxy Golden Eggs.
  • Gifting is a major factor at Easter and last year and grew by 7.7%. Retailers should ensure they stock a full range of small, medium, large and luxury eggs to cater for all ages and budgets.
  • Both Galaxy Golden Eggs and Malteaster Bunny are supported by eye-catching POS displays and retailers should make sure they utilise these materials to create in-store theatre.
  • Utilise promotions – these are often key to triggering purchase and can also encourage customers to buy more eggs.