Whichever BBC exec greenlighted the idea for a baking competition must have congratulated themselves on a nice little niche cookery programme to tap into the home-baking market. Two years, five million viewers, a junior version and two TV specials later, The Great British Bake Off has become one of BBC2’s most successful shows, topping the viewing figures for the channel whenever it’s on. Never mind being a nation of shopkeepers, it seems we’re a nation of bakers, too.

Which is all great news for the butters, spreads and margarines (BSMs) market.

Stuart Ibberson, senior director of BSMs and shopper marketing at Arla Foods, which makes Anchor and Lurpak, says the growing interest in both cooking and baking at home is illustrated by the increase in block butter sales, which are currently worth £20m. What’s more, block butter is the fastest growing sector in the category, enjoying 17% growth (Nielsen).

With 10% of in-home sweet courses being made at home (Kantar Worldpanel), Jolanda Wells, assistant brand manager for Stork at Unilever, says this is a good reason for c-store retailers to stock Stork, which is the number one baking spread (IRI data).

retailer’s view

“We carry eight butters and spreads lines in total. Flora is a good seller and we’ve had no adverse comments about the change in formulation.

“Kerrymaid Buttery, which is pricemarked at £1.99 for a kilo, is particularly popular with families as it offers such good value.

“We also stock Just Like Butter, Bertolli, Anchor and Lye Cross Farm West Country butter. Most of the lines are pricemarked, which our customers seem to like.”

Chris Bennett, Clandown Stores, Radstock, Somerset

The £39m brand was given a boost earlier this year with the launch of Stork Easy to Mix Baking Liquid, designed to appeal to the ‘modern baker’. The liquid comes in a 500ml bottle and can be used straight from the fridge.

“This new format will bring both incremental growth to the category as well as encourage existing consumers to trade up,” says Wells.

Meanwhile, Trex has been the subject of a £250,000 marketing campaign over the summer. The brand was first introduced in the 1930s as a dairy-free alternative to butter for baking.

Neil Brownbill, marketing director for Trex, comments: “The growing popularity of home-baking marks an opportunity for Trex to reach a new generation of consumers who are interested in the benefits of using vegetable fat over other alternatives. Trex is a unique product in the category, and is the only aerated 100% vegetable fat in the market. This means no water, no hydrogenated vegetable oil and e-numbers, colours or preservatives. It is even lower in saturated and trans fats than butter, so many consumers are opting in to Trex as a healthy alternative in baking.

Unilever convenience manager Tom Hazelden adds: “The fastest areas of growth in home-made baking are cupcakes, birthday cakes and brownies. Convenience retailers should ensure they can capitalise on this by stocking baking spreads, but also prompting impulse baking sessions with signage at the spreads fixture and displaying items such as cake decorations.”

Family essential

Although there has been new product activity in the BSMs market of late (think Flora Cuisine and Clover Seedburst), it’s not as dynamic a category as, say, soft drinks. But Unilever senior category manager for chilled foods, Adrian Adams, says it doesn’t need to be: “Butter and margarine is viewed as a family essential, bought most often on the main family shopping trip. With that in mind, the category is not one requiring flashing lights and sex appeal, but rather it needs to be reflective of the shopper mission.

“This means a simple and easy-to-shop fixture, which helps mum find what she needs quickly. Addressing these basics makes it easier for the shopper to engage with key trends such as home cooking and baking, health and family meal occasions, along with being informed of npd and innovation.”

Earlier this year, Unilever reformulated and improved the taste of Flora Original and Light. However, not all consumers saw this as an ‘improvement’ and much debate followed on internet chat forums. But it seems that was all a storm in a teacup as the firm reports that penetration for Flora Original and Light has increased.

New TV advertising supports reformulated Flora featuring TV’s Vernon Kay and his mum Gladys.

Arla’s Ibberson says continued support is key to ensure brands are kept at the forefront of people’s minds. “A good example of this is the Good Food Deserves Lurpak campaign, which has firmly positioned Lurpak as an essential ingredient for the growing number of consumers embracing the home cooking and baking trend.”

Battle of the brands


It’s the battle of the spreads: one nutty, one cheesy one ambient, one chilled both extolling their low-fat credentials. But while Nutella, which has recently overtaken Marmite as the UK’s number one spread SKU (IRI & Nielsen), has positioned itself as a nutty way for kids to start the day, newcomer Philadelphia with Cadbury is pinning its hopes on adult females seeking an indulgent way to snack without guilt. Choccy Philly, as it has nicknamed itself, has already become a £7.4m brand in its first six months (Nielsen), while Nutella is the fastest growing top 10 spreads brand, outperforming the category in value (+19.4%) and unit sales (+15.9%) (Nielsen). Even for a nation of chocolate lovers, this is pretty impressive stuff and shows that British shoppers show no sign of losing their taste for the brown stuff.

According to Kantar data, the percentage of BSMs sold ‘on deal’ currently stands at 47.3%. Ibberson says it’s clear that consumers are used to seeing BSM brands on promotion, but adds: “We’re now seeing a growing consumer interest in added-value promotions that offer something more than just a discounted product. A great example of this is the recently-launched Anchor loyalty promotion, which gives a point of difference on shelf.”

Unilever’s Adams says consumers’ ‘live for the week’ mindset means they are looking for more of a balance that includes multi-buys and single-unit deals.

“Promotions can play a valuable role in the BSMs category, impacting on shopper behaviour while driving usage. However, at present, wall-to-wall promotion is not driving a change in usage, or engaging shoppers in the category, but rather rewarding their existing behaviour. Recent promotions on packs of Flora to win £1,000-worth of bikes instantly aims to do this by encouraging families to live a healthy lifestyle.”

Boosting profits

Dairy Crest senior shopper marketing manager Adam Mehegan says that as retailers are faced with a huge choice of BSM lines, they should select a good breadth of products and top sellers to help boost profits.

“Stocking the top brand butters and spreads is crucial, as BSMs is a brand-rich category and consumers buy into the names they recognise and trust. Shoppers are willing to pay more for branded products, providing retailers with an opportunity to maximise the value of every butters and spreads sale.”

He reckons a retailer stocking Clover has the perfect answer for customers who want a healthier spread, but refuse to sacrifice on taste. “Placing Clover alongside one of the value-orientated spreads, such as Utterly Butterly, will give customers the opportunity to trade up to a more premium product. Clover Lighter was introduced in 2008 and is steadily growing in market share. It is an ever-important part of the total Clover brand as consumers continue to look for healthier alternatives.”

Ibberson agrees that BSMs is a highly branded category, and cites a branded volume share of 83% and a value share of 84% (Nielsen).

“We’re seeing an increasing demand from consumers wanting branded products from names they can trust. With this in mind, it’s important for convenience retailers to consider the buying behaviour of their shoppers, as well as the size of their stores, and make sure they stock a strong range of products that respond to what their customers’ needs. However, when considering which are the best-selling products to stock, branded options are still the most important.”

He says Lurpak and Anchor perform exceptionally well within convenience stores. “In particular, the Lurpak brand shows a great performance in c-stores and benefits from having five products in the top 10 SKUs, all of which are in growth. When combined, Anchor and Lurpak account for eight of the BSM products in the top 20, demonstrating just how important it is for convenience retailers to ensure they have a good display of these leading brands.”•

Battling for loyalty

Two new loyalty schemes are hitting the dairy fridges - for Anchor and for Clover.

Clover’s is its first-ever loyalty scheme and brand owner Dairy Crest expects it to reach more than four million consumers via 30 million packs.

Those consumers are invited to collect ‘Clover hearts’ (tokens on cover leafs) in return for breakfast-time goodies. A heart mug can be redeemed for six Clover hearts, eight hearts gets a heart-shaped side plate, and 10 hearts a toast rack. Instructions are available on packs and on the microsite, WithLoveFromClover.com.

Dairy Crest head of marketing for butters and spreads Jeremy Coles says: “We want to reward loyal customers for their love of the brand, while encouraging repeat purchase.”

According to Nielsen data, Clover recently hit £100m in value terms on an MAT basis.

Over at Arla Foods, Anchor Butter is launching an exclusive online Anchor Rewards Club. The loyalty scheme gives consumers the chance to collect points and redeem them online in exchange for Anchor branded kitchenware, as well as out-of-home experiences and monthly competitions.

Every Anchor Butter pack from the brand’s block, spreadable and lighter spreadable ranges features an on-pack flash highlighting the promotion, along with a unique code on the inside of the pack and directions to the Anchor Rewards Club website, www.anchordairy.co.uk/gifts. Once on the website, consumers enter their unique code to collect points in exchange for rewards.

Anchor senior brand manager Louise Turnbull says uptake on the brand’s 125th birthday collectables on-pack promotion last year proves just how popular Anchor memorabilia is with consumers.

Category advice

butters and spreads

● Product visibility and standout are very important, and pack colours are key visual triggers shoppers use when looking for brands at the fixture.

● Make it easy for customers to find the products they want by separating butters, spreads and margarine into the four most popular product groups: butter, buttery spreads, health and baking. Put buttery spreads and spreadable butters in the centre as these are highly visible and recognisable and will drive customers to the chiller.

● A clear layout helps shoppers to choose more quickly and encourages them to try new products as they can clearly see what is in each different section, and what the alternatives to their favourite brand are.

● Block vertically by brand. Top sellers should be placed at eye level and products blocked vertically by brand. If space is at a premium then retailers can block horizontally.

● Stock a variety of sizes and formats across the four product groups.

● Experiment with higher-value products, such as cholesterol-lowering spreads and spreadable butters, if there is space. These are usually well supported and can generate additional consumer interest and sales.

● Use your knowledge of your own customers, as research shows that specific lines and own label products can perform better in certain regions. For example, shoppers’ tastes in butter can vary between the north and south of England.

● Allocate the most space to the top-selling brands.

● Keep chillers tidy and well stocked - check the cabinet regularly to avoid excess frost and dirty marks. A clean and tidy chiller cabinet is more inviting to customers and will reflect positively on the whole store.

Source: Unilever Partners for Growth

Ones to watch

Made in Yorkshire

The Wensleydale Creamery, producer of Real Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese, has entered the butter market with Dales Butter. The product has been specifically produced to complement the company’s cheese range.

rrp: £1.79 for 250g

tel: 01969 667664

Trex appeal

New advertising in specialist food and lifestyle media launches this month to announce the release of the 2013 Trex calendar. Consumers can register online to receive the free calendar, which features 
baking recipes, baking tips and money-off coupons.

tel: 0151 966 7000

On yer bikes

Nutella has teamed up with Raleigh bikes for its latest promotion. Running until December on 400g and 750g packs, the activity gives consumers the chance to win one of 20 sets of Raleigh bikes for the whole family. Consumers can also get 10% off Raleigh products.

tel: 01923 690300

Big spenders

Lurpak is backed by a £10m investment this year including national TV and print advertising as well as the brand’s biggest-ever shopper marketing campaign. A new 250g Lurpak Lightest Spreadable joined the range this summer.

rrp: £1.60

tel: 0113 382 7000