A recent easing of inflation might have spelled good news for the economy, but with incomes still tight, shoppers are still looking to recreate great experiences at home.
By Elena Dimama
Demand for sharing products is on the up and the pursuit of value in these challenging times presents a great opportunity for retailers to trade up with the Big Night In occasion.
As shoppers are increasingly looking to enjoy evenings at home as a more cost-effective way to spend time together, sharing formats and fake-aways are the obvious winner for convenience.
Within crisps, snacks & nuts (CSN), it is sharing bags (key for the ‘Big Night In’ occasion) that are driving growth in independent convenience stores (+28%), according to TWC. In Scotland, sharing bags are also performing well (+33.8%).
Meanwhile, strong growth is seen across the board for chocolate confectionery but sharing bags, which are key for the Big Night In, are performing particularly strongly with +17% YOY growth (+14% in Scotland, TWC notes.
“Whether it’s a big get-together to remember, a casual drink paired with nuts, or a family movie night with popcorn, the CSN sharing segment has grown significantly and represents a huge opportunity for retailers,” Matt Collins, Trading Director at KP Snacks, says.
“49% see snacks as a must-have for an evening in. These have become increasingly popular as consumers continue to spend more time at home due to trends towards more cautious spending.”
Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondelez International, adds: “We’ve seen that shoppers are increasingly looking to enjoy evenings at home as a more cost-effective way to spend time together.
“This subsequent increase in the Big Night In occasion can be catered to with our gifting and sharing formats, such as Cadbury Heroes, Cadbury sharing bags and sugar confectionery.”
What’s more, value for money is continuing to play a crucial role in the way shoppers decide what to add in their basket, with PMPs being a big driver in the crisps and snacks category.
“Consumers are really feeling the pinch at the moment and independent retailers are winning where they can offer great value for money. Instead of raising the headline price of our £1 PMPs, we’ve decided to stick to £1 demonstrating Golden Wonder’s commitment to delivering great consumer value whilst offering strong retailer margins,” Matt Smith, Marketing Director for Tayto Group, explains.
The flavour factor
Flavour innovations are key growth drivers, with taste being a critical element of sharing occasions as the number one influence for shoppers buying crisps or snacks, according to Mintel.
“91% say spending time family time together is very important and, as recessionary conditions prevail, nights in with family and friends will become more prevalent as an alternative to a night out,” Collins explains. “48% of consumers eat crisps, snacks and nuts when watching a film at home and 51% view them as a good low-cost way to boost their mood and celebrate small achievements.”
Mondelez is tapping into the flavour innovation trend with the Cadbury Twirl Mint, as mint was one of the top five flavour additions for standard chocolate, according to Nielsen.
The sweet aspect
“Around events like the Big Night In, we see an increase in demand for sharing options, as customers look for confectionery treats they can share with friends and family,” Chris Smith, Partner Brand Manager at World of Sweets, explains.
“Shoppers feeling the pinch are looking for value options while shopping but are still looking to treat themselves with confectionery and snacking options for big occasions.”
Price-marked packs are a crucial option for this category too, along with the various flavours brands can offer.
“The Bonds of London range offers a great size and value for money. They are clearly marked with prices and are a great option for stores looking to expand their range of PMPs,” Kathryn Hague, Head of Marketing at Hancocks, adds.
“Our Bonds share bags are each marked clearly as £1.25. The range includes Great British favourites like Giant Strawbs, Fruit Pastilles, Jelly Beans, Chocolate Honeycomb, Gems, Fruit Jellies, Chocolate Peanuts and Midget Gems.”
Stocking up on free-from options is also important for the Big Night In occasion. “Consumers expect brands and retailers to care beyond revenue. It’s not as simple as churning out NPD and expecting it to be a success with no regard for the brand, its values and how it’s perceived by the consumer,” Gabriella Egleton – Senior Brand Manager – Kervan Gida UK, notes.
“Consumers are more discerning than they were, and are paying more attention to what they consume, looking for transparency when it comes to product formulation and supply.”
“When stocking up for these Big Night In occasions, healthier sharing options should not be ignored,” Collins adds. KP Snacks offers popchips as a bagged snack options in the sharing pack format that combines health credentials, such as coming in at under 100 calories per serving. What’s more, the brand’s KP Nuts portfolio offers a range of flavours and formats, with nuts naturally high in protein and fibre.
Don’t forget the tipple
Creating high-quality alcohol experiences at home, all year round is another attractive element for shoppers looking to complete their Big Night In.
“We have seen an abundance of flavoured spirits launching over the past couple of years as they continue to be popular amongst consumers,” Lauren Priestley, Head of Category Development Off Trade at Diageo, tells SLR. “We also recommend maintaining a selection of flavoured vodka. Research has shown that flavoured vodka is performing incredibly well and is now worth £343m in value.”
What’s more, beer is an “incredibly popular choice” for consumers all year round, according to Priestley, who adds: “Ensuring your beer range is inclusive is key, so stocking non-alcoholic beers is a must.”
Diageo offers Guinness Draught in Can in various formats to allow retailers to offer a large choice. The brand also comes in an alcohol-free ‘0.0’ option.
Another consumer trend is the rising demand for the at-home cocktail occasion, presenting the off-trade an opportunity to help people create great experiences at home during key calendar moments. Easy home recreations can include the classic Gin & Tonic, or rum-based liquids that can form the base of many high-quality serves for shoppers to enjoy.
With more shoppers forgoing their weekend takeaway or meal out, people could be looking at fakeaway choices for Friday or Saturday nights.
“In-home meal occasions are on the rise vs. pre-pandemic times, with +2% more in the latest 12 weeks vs. 2019, and this growth provides a great opportunity for the frozen sector to offer premiumisation options as well showcasing the versatility of the products in consumers’ freezers,” Joss Bamber, Head of Convenience at Birds Eye, says.
“Consumers are being more careful with their spend and, as a result, we expect to see fewer out-of-home occasions, presenting an opportunity for convenience stores to offer quality products that they know and love to attract them into the frozen aisle. If we look at shopper behaviours during lockdown and even the previous recession, we clearly saw a drop in the number of out-of-home eating occasions, such as trips to restaurants and takeaways,” he adds.
“We’re now seeing that shoppers still want to treat themselves, but with less disposable income, many people are prioritising making meals at home.”