Maximising footfall in 2023 can become easier by taking advantage of calendar occasions old and new, such as the King’s coronation.
The first two months of the new year are traditionally key for retailers to keep the momentum of the festive season going with a host of seasonal celebrations.
From Burns Night to Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day, the opportunities for independent shops to drive footfall will be once again plenty, despite the challenging economic times.
“With Burns Night in full swing, retailers must be well-prepared for the coming months as consumers continue to enjoy key celebratory periods such as Mothering Sunday, Easter, the King’s coronation, and Wimbledon,” Ben Blake, Head of Marketing – EMEA – Treasury Wine Estates, says.
Drinks on the up
“Being aware of key seasonal occasions can be beneficial when it comes to stocking spirits and the first few months of 2023 will bring a variety of occasions perfect for socialising and coming together, such as Burns Night and Chinese New Year,” Johnny Dennys, Head of Brand and Trade Marketing, Mast-Jägermeister UK, explains.
Retailers can tap into this opportunity by stocking recognisable brands that offer value and quality, he adds.
They certainly can – according to Lumina Intelligence, 18% of shoppers purchase alcohol for Easter, just slightly below the 19% who buy flowers or boxed chocolates.
“Events such as [Easter] present a huge opportunity for retailers to prepare well in advance to ensure their range is right. There is an opportunity to use promotions to maximise alcohol sales for these periods, with 27% of shoppers likely to stock up on alcohol on promotion,” Blake adds.
However, it goes without saying that if you want to offer a discount on alcohol, that your licence prohibits irresponsible drinking promotions, and you must still follow minimum unit pricing.
And, according to Kevin Fawell, Off-Trade Sales Director at Molson Coors Beverage Company, during previous times of economic uncertainty, “many people held on to those smaller indulgences saving money by cutting out bigger expenditures”.
“Choosing a premium drink could be one of those little treats that people want to keep, which is why we expect premium beer and cider lines to remain popular choices,” he tells SLR.
“This includes World Beers, which are increasing sales ahead of the core category in the off-trade in Great Britain. For example, Madrí Excepcional, has already delivered £32m value sales in retail, with its crisp, refreshing taste and distinctive branding proving a real hit. Continental-style pilsners such as Staropramen are becoming increasingly popular too, providing a more crisp and hoppy flavour than the styles we traditionally drink in the UK.”
Treasury Wines Estates is offering up its Wolf Blass range for shoppers looking for a “more premium night in,” as the brand invests in an integrated marketing campaign with TV advertising, out-of-home and digital activities all running.
Meanwhile, retailers can also benefit from the shot occasion, described as a “key trend” to look out for by Dennys, as shoppers celebrate together. “For such occasions, consumers are looking for brands they know and trust that can deliver on quality and taste,” he says.
“Our latest innovation, Jägermeister Cold Brew Coffee (ABV 33%), is perfect for alternative shot occasions that are becoming more popular, such as alongside food and earlier in the evening. It also taps into the cold brew coffee trend and with it, increases sales. Coffee remains a popular flavour amongst consumers, with more than 24 million households in the UK buying the beverage.”
Remember the chocolate
“Compared to Christmas, shoppers are usually more likely to make a dedicated trip for chocolate at Easter, showcasing the size of the opportunity for confectionery,” Jason Sutherland, UK & Ireland Sales Director, Ferrero UK, explains.
“The ONS reported a jump in retail sales in April 2022, supported by food and drink spending in the lead-up to the Easter weekend. This showed that consumers still wanted to spend for a special occasion, especially when it came to treating.”
Confectionery is at its best during Easter, with boxed chocolate, for example, playing a key role in driving footfall. Ferrero will be honouring the occasion with the Classic Boxed SKU within total boxed chocolate, along with the Kinder Egg Hunt 150g.
What’s more, the brand is launching two boxed egg packs for 2023, a Ferrero Rocher Egg and a Ferrero Collection (Milk) Egg, which both include a large 175g egg and six Pralines. On top of this, Ferrero is introducing a new 100g Chocolate Bunny for Easter.
“Kinder Surprise is a big focus for us at this time of year and accounts for 33% of Kinder unit sales during Easter,” Sutherland adds. “Looking ahead, we’re confident 2023 will be even bigger for the Kinder brand, especially as we have a licence agreement with Disney’s Avatar to provide figurines in our 100g Surprise Easter eggs.”
According to Sutherland, Easter eggs, chocolate figurines and treats can “really play” into independents’ hands. “While convenience stores may not always be able to compete on price, by providing a choice of big-name products, such as the Kinder Surprise or Thorntons’ Classic egg collections, and items at various price points, they can encourage impulse purchase from their existing customers,” he explains.
Cadbury is also gearing up for Easter 2023, bringing back its Cadbury Creme Egg’s ‘How Do You Not Eat Yours? campaign. Shoppers will be warned once again to keep an eye out for a half-milk chocolate, half-white chocolate Cadbury Creme Egg. Retailers who sell the winning eggs are set to benefit from the promotion, with more than 20 Amazon vouchers up for grabs – including one worth £1,000.
Meanwhile, Mondelez is unveiling its first product innovation for Cadbury Creme Eggs – adding white chocolate to the range. Cadbury Mini Eggs and Cadbury Dairy Milk Orange Filled bags will complete the line-up.
It’s not just readymade confectionery items that perform well on the run-up to Easter; shoppers like to try their hand at creating something of their own, which presents a great opportunity for the Home Baking category.
“Items that performed particularly well in 2022 were placements, whether it be wafer, chocolate, or sugar. Also, everyday items such as baking chocolate, flavoured buttercream, marzipan, cocoa powder and baking cases,” Jen Johnson, Head of Marketing – Cake, Dr. Oetker Baking, tells SLR.
“Whole cake mixes also did particularly well showing that more time-poor customers may be looking for simple but effective ways to bake quickly and efficiently.”
Season of love
Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are great opportunities for retailers to ramp up their gift offerings in core categories such as alcohol or confectionery.
“Recently, sparkling wine has performed particularly well across the big occasions, driving sales from both gifting and celebratorily moments,” Blake explains. “This trend has been recognised in strong sales performance across Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, where according to Kantar, sales of private-label sparkling brands grew by 22% during the four weeks to 26 December.”
On the back of this trend, Treasury Wine Estates is launching a sparkling variant to its 19 Crimes portfolio for the first time.
It’s not just the alcohol performing well on celebratory moments – cake and confectionery can serve retailers perfectly on those occasions too.
“At Dr. Oetker, the areas known to perform well over Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day include sweet mixes, chocolate placements, inclusions, marshmallows and buttercream; all the ingredients to make a delicious homemade treat for a loved one,” Johnson says.
“As for our top performing products, the Heart Marshmallows and Wafer Daisies do particularly well, as well as the usual chocolate, colours and sprinkles.”
Beat the cost-of-living woes
The economic challenges facing shoppers are at the centre of many brands’ agendas this year, with many brands citing value for money as paramount to promotions in 2023.
“We are recognising that more value-conscious consumers are switching to products that offer them the best overall value for their money. This does not always necessarily mean the cheapest option, but the best-perceived value,” Blake says.
“This is driving growth in the £8-£10 price bracket. As consumers continue hosting key celebrations from home, retailers should respond to this trend by ensuring they have good stock of more premium alcohol options, particularly within the wine category. There has been growth in wines £8+ in the market, and at Treasury Wine Estates we are seeing increased sales in wines £7+.”
According to Kantar, 64.6% of off-trade alcohol occasions were consumed alongside food in the last year, with 77.1% of wine off-trade occasions including food this year.
The cost-of-living crisis is also likely to affect the Home Baking category, both positively and negatively but overall, Dr. Oetker anticipates that consumers will keep baking and potentially more consumers will come into the category as a means of ‘entertainment’ or pastime.
Johnson explains: “If we consider the negatives, then we know price-conscious Brits will have less disposable income this Easter and therefore may be forced to cut out or reduce spend on categories deemed as ‘non-essential’. In some respects, this includes home baking because many consumers enjoy it as a hobby or pastime rather than a necessity.
“By contrast, customers may be more likely to celebrate special occasions at home, therefore making them more inclined to choose to bake their own creations from scratch as opposed to buying extravagant and expensive shop-bought cakes,” she concludes.
Dr. Oetker predicts an uplift in sales for home-baking products over Easter, as it can be a “great activity to keep children entertained, and therefore in a cost-of-living crisis it becomes a more affordable alternative to other options over holidays and weekends”.
Go for multi
“Multipack formats have been a key focus over the last year – and with more social occasions on the horizon over the long Easter weekend and stretching into the May bank holidays, we expect to see this trend continue,” Fawell, from Molson Coors, explains. “To tap into this growing demand, we launched a Doom Bar ‘fridge pack’ containing 10x440ml cans last year, and a 6x330ml can multipack for our Staropramen range to help retailers drive sales. Both packs are encased in a recyclable cardboard sleeve, making them entirely plastic-free.”
And, according to Jägermeister, price-marked packs are a “must-stock” for the big night in, “as they help boost impulse purchases due to clear price labels, but also drive profit,” Dennys says.
“Consumers feel reassured that they are not being overcharged for premium brands with price-marked packs, providing an incentive for consumers to make a purchase.”