Expect monster sales at Halloween

The nation has fallen under the spell of Halloween and there are monster sales to be had for retailers who get into the spirit of it, says Sarah Britton

As darkness falls across the land, the midnight hour is close at hand, and creatures crawl in search of blood, to terrorise your neighbourhood. Okay, so when we say creatures we mean customers, and the blood they’re looking for is the kind that tastes of strawberry and oozes out of a jelly eyeball!

Halloween-specific confectionery grew 45% year on year within convenience stores and is now valued at £11m, according to Nestlé. And with yet more manufacturers getting involved with themed products and packaging for Halloween 2011, the season really could turn out to be a thriller.

“Halloween just gets better and better,” says Haribo managing director Herwig Vennekens. “In 2010 seasonal sales for this period experienced double-digit growth. This year is set to be no different as retailers and consumers place more emphasis on this topical occasion.”

retailer’s view Conrad Davies

“Halloween isn’t just one day any more, there’s a two-week build up to it. We’ll hope to sell lots of confectionery over the whole period we recently added a pick & mix unit to the store, which we sell at £1.99 a cup. 

“There’ll be Spooky & Spicy sausages on sale, which are bright red and chilli flavoured, and we’ll also sell toffee apples, fake blood, scary masks and cans of pop. We try to create a fun atmosphere with staff dressing up and decorating the store with cobwebs, toy spiders, and witches’ hats. And to top it off, we also have a pumpkin display.” Conrad Davies, three Spar stores in North Wales

Haribo has plenty to offer consumers looking for something new with its Spooky Ghosts in orange, blackcurrant and vanilla flavours, available in 160g sharing bags retailing at £1.20.

Nisa is equally confident of the season’s potential. “Nisa members’ Halloween sales through central distribution grossly exceeded the forecasts for 2010, following a good solid category performance in 2009,” says trading controller Brian Porter. “2011 is targeted to deliver further sizeable double-digit growth, with the Halloween market in a healthy position.”

Nestlé agrees that Halloween is a key opportunity to boost sales ahead of Christmas. “Whereas Halloween may have been a small-time sidebar between summer and Bonfire Night, it is now seen as an important part of the autumn landscape. In 2010sales grew by 46%, and in 2009 they grew by 51%,” says trade communications manager Graham Walker. “In the past five years, confectionery sales at Halloween have increased by an impressive 25% and are now worth £30m.”

And with consumers chomping at the bit for something to get their fangs into, Nestlé is certainly not one to disappoint. The company is relaunching its Smarties Pumpkin (rrp 65p). The self-eat hollow chocolate is foil-wrapped and filled with mini Smarties.

Another surefire hit is Kraft’s Cadbury Screme Egg. Following a successful trial in Asda last year, the product is making its debut in the convenience sector. It is identical to its springtime twin, except that a ghoulish green goo replaces the yellow yolk and the egg has green packaging to provide standout. The product retails at 55p and will be supported by an above-the-line campaign.

The eggs will join Cadbury’s blood red caramel-filled Dead Heads, which have been redesigned to have more colourful packaging for 2011. Spooky Treats and Cauldron’s Mix from Kraft’s The Natural Confectionery Company are also getting a creepy makeover to make pack designs bolder.

“There is a demand for products that hit the mark specifically for this spooky time of year and help engage the family in all things Halloween,” notes Perfetti Van Melle’s marketing director Mark Stangroom. Fruittella and Chupa Chups sales leapt 63% during Halloween last year. And the company is hoping its new Fruittella Spooky Family Mix will make a gut-churningly good addition to the range.

Leaf UK’s gruesome Freaky Faces will be making a return this year, and its vampire fang jellies will also be hoping for a taste of the action. “Vampire-based series like Twilight, True Blood and Vampire Diaries have brought consumers of all ages flocking to the Halloween occasion,” says trade marketing manager Jo Carr. “And with the Twilight franchise set to release the second to last movie shortly after Halloween, we predict Halloween sales to increase even further this year.”

“Halloween is the ideal period for retailers to add themed treats to displays and create in-store theatre to drive impulse sales and to show shoppers just how tasty Halloween can be,” says Haribo’s Vennekens.

If shoppers see that a retailer is going that extra mile to make their experience more enjoyable and related to the occasion, they are more likely to return for other seasonal events, claims The Fabulous Bakin’ Boys managing director Gary Frank. “Store owners should continue the Halloween theme with in-store decorations, product displays and even eerie music to catch shoppers’ attention.”

The company is extending its Halloween range with the addition of Apple ‘n Blackcurrant spooky cupcakes to join last year’s Chocolate ‘n Blood Orange spooky cupcakes. Both are available at an introductory price of £1 for a pack of six, with an rrp of £1.49.

Tangerine Confectionery also encourages retailers to get creative with in-store theatre. “Retailers should expand beyond the traditional black and orange theme and attempt to create drama in-store,” says brand manager Lucy Sullivan. “The Halloween opportunity is certainly one that can be developed, allowing retailers to look beyond just ‘scary’ and place the onus on fantasy it’s a good excuse to be someone else for the day. Encouraging staff to embrace the season provides additional focus for consumers and a constant reminder of what is available on the store’s shelves.”

The company is launching Halloween-themed Butterkist Toffee popcorn (rrp £1.75), limited-edition Freaky Body parts (rrp £1), and Spogz Squirting Skulls that ooze gooey, fruit-flavoured brains (rrp £1).

Also going down the gory route of Halloween-themed treats is the McVitie’s Cake Company, which is bringing back its Jaffa Cake Lemon & Slime Cake Bar, as well as its Jaffa Spooky Cake Bar with a blood-red orange centre. In addition, the company is introducing two limited-edition 225g Tate & Lyle cakes in Black Treacle and Toffee Apple variants for Bonfire celebrations.

In the cake market Halloween is still only half the size of Easter, observes Premier Foods, which manufactures the top three Halloween cake SKUs. These are: Cadbury Trick or Treat Mini-roll; Cadbury Cinder Toffee Cake Bar; and Cadbury Scary Orange Cake Bar. Premier has revamped its Mr Kipling Fiendish Fancies for the 2011 spooky season and will be replacing its Devil Slices with Demon Slices.

Something for everyone
The secret to a successful season is taking into account which products will appeal most to your customer base, states Hancocks Cash & Carry. “During the week of Halloween there can be a number of different shoppers: adults purchasing confectionery for the inevitable trick or treaters; adults buying items for a children’s Halloween party the trend is growing; and, of course, children buying spooky and fun pocket-money items,” says purchasing director Jonathan Summerley.

Adults are more likely to plan their purchases, says Nisa’s Porter. “They target mostly larger packs, such as Swizzles’ bumper bag or Haribo’s mega party bag, as well as Halloween-specific lines such as Cadbury’s Trick or Treatsize tub.”

The Cadbury Trick or Treatsize Tub has a spooky new design this year and contains treat-sized versions of consumer favourites: Cadbury Chomp; Cadbury Curly Wurly; Cadbury Crunchie; and Cadbury Fudge.

Mars and Nestlé are also expecting their fun-size multipacks to do well. “Smaller portions of popular treats, such as Smarties, provide the perfect packs for trick or treaters,” says Walker.

Mars agrees, claiming that the fun-size format represents 66% of overall Halloween sales. It produces five out of the top seven fun-size products, and has a range of Halloween-themed pos to support retailers with dump bins, shelf barkers and wobblers.

fireworks Gunpowder plots

With their sky-high margins, it might be worth stocking a selection of fireworks over the Halloween and Bonfire Night period. “Fireworks are potentially a really good opportunity and profit earner for independent retailers,” says Helen Ashton, marketing manager at Black Cat and Standard Fireworks. “Each year more than 10 million families enjoy fireworks in their own gardens and these days there aren’t many things a family can do together at home for about £20. Value for money is key.” 

This year the company has a number of newcomers at affordable pricepoints: a powerful fountain called Iconic (rrp £14.99); the Turbo Wheel, which retails at £11.99 and contains six motors; and the Ethos selection box, which retails at £9.99.

Swizzels Matlow’s Halloween range is also worth finding space for. The new big bags for hungry trick or treaters, or families to share at parties, include Trick or Treat Lolly Mix, Monster Treats and Spooky Treat or Trick Mix. Other offerings include Skulls N’ Devils, Bites and Fright Mix share bags.

And while adults buy in bulk, kids are likely to ponder over which devilishly delightful treats to pick from your impressively fearsome, yet ultimately affordable children’s selection. Swizzels’ Mega Drumsticks have had a Halloween makeover with a new black and orange wrapper, while the Double Dip has mutated into Spooky Dip, with a new blackcurrant flavour that leaves tongues black.

Hancocks has plenty of pocket money-friendly goodies. Its Giant Rats and Spiders, available all year round, are strong sellers at this time of year. And new for 2011 come Halloween Jelly Pops (rrp 49p); Halloween Ring Pops (rrp 25p); eyeball and severed finger-filled Test Tubes (rrp 75p); and Gruesome Gummies (rrp 50p).

Retailers who are feeling particularly adventurous could even use a selection of pick and mix to create their own frightfully fabulous offerings. Says The Fabulous Bakin’ Boys’ Frank: “With so much competition on the high street, retailers can get ahead by creating their own Halloween snack boxes, goodie bags, or trick or treat mixes.”

The message is use your imagination to create unique offerings and an enticing store environment to help to inspire Halloween purchases. Adds Premier Foods’ head of seasonal cake Simon Hawkes: “The one lesson that we should take from the US, where Halloween is massive, is embrace the event.

“We are urging independent retailers to create in-store displays in order to maximise the profit opportunity seasonal events offer.”

By ensuring that your store’s eerie atmosphere transports customers to the Twilight Zone, and that your stock is all killer, and no filler, you can guarantee more than a few happy souls this Halloween.

Scare bear bunch 
Intersnack has introduced seasonal packs of its teddy-shaped snack. Pom-Bear Halloween is supplied in a six-bag multipack with a special-edition tangy pickled onion flavour.
rrp: £1.39
tel: 01207 291910 

Just chilling 
Fruittella’s Spooky Family Halloween Bag contains 27 candies in blackcurrant & strawberry, cola & lime, and orange & banana flavours. The 190g joins the 150g Fruittella Halloween bag.
rrp: £1.49
tel: 01753 442 100 

Ghoul power 
Bazooka Candy Brands has unveiled Halloween versions of its Mega Mouth candy sprays called Spooky Spray Candy. The range comprises Vampire’s Venom, Black Magic, Witches Brew and Candy Apple variants.
tel: 020 8150 8210 

Creepy cookies 
Mini Oreo cookies have been given a magical makeover. Packs are decorated in bats and pumpkins, and feature interactive games. The cookie’s vanilla filling is also a ghoulish orange.
rrp: £1.59
tel: 08702 400861 

Halloween treat 
AG Barr hopes retailers will add Irn-Bru to their trick or treat shopping. Themed 2ltr twin-packs retail at £2.59 and 8x250ml Trick or Treat value packs have a £2 pricemark. Creepy Cola and Slimy Limeade are also available.
tel: 01204 664295