It's a cold Saturday in January and the Heyburn family from Ashford, Kent, are preparing for a family night in. First the introductions - there's dad Gary, mum Kallie and the three boys: Joshua aged 13; Casey aged 11; and Harvey aged 9. However, it won't be a full family night in as Joshua is going to watch the latest Rocky film at the cinema and will be staying with friends.
The Heyburns do go to the cinema as a family four or five times a year, but as each trip costs nearly £50 they only go to see the 'big' films that they all want to watch.
Tonight's viewing is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. They've seen it at the cinema, but want to watch it in the comfort of their own home on their new 42in plasma TV. But first things first, and it's down to their local
c-store for supplies. That store is the Co-op in Kennington and as it's fully stocked with tempting goodies, they're keen to make their selections. They use this shop a lot so know where everything is and Kallie has to steer the two boys away from the sweets to get to the freezers. Here they choose two Goodfellas pizzas and some Co-op garlic bread from the chiller. Casey then grabs some Co-op neapolitan ice cream from the freezer for dessert. To wash it all down, Kallie picks a bottle of Lyngrove sauvignon blanc for £3.79, Gary gets a couple of bottles of Tiger Beer, and Casey and Harvey go for Fanta fruit twist. Then the two boys get the chance to pick up some Pringles and those all important sweets - in this case Bassett's Jelly Babies, Minstrels, Aero Bubbles and Fruit Pastilles. This all comes to a total of £23.06 and as the DVD they are watching was a Christmas present, it's a great value family night in.
Once at home, the oven goes on and within minutes the family tucks into Pringles and garlic bread to start. Says Gary: "I really don't like those Texas BBQ sauce flavour Pringles - they're too strong - but the boys love them. We prefer the sour cream & onion ones."
Then it's on to the pizza. "The boys love pizza," says Kallie, "so it's always part of the weekly shop, and they do like Goodfellas."
Right on cue, Harvey remarks on how "nice and cheesy" the pizza is.
After a short break, the boys help themselves to the ice cream, although Harvey is reprimanded lightly for piling loads into his bowl! They both say it's very nice but eat it so fast that the coldness goes straight to their heads.
Meanwhile, Kallie sips her wine, which she says is really good. She's not had this particular brand before, but says she'd definitely buy it again. Needless to say, Gary is enjoying his beer. "It's easy to drink; probably too easy to drink," he says, opening his second bottle.
Casey and Harvey's usual tipple is blackcurrant squash; they only have fizzy drinks as a treat and Fanta is their absolute favourite.
Sometime later on during the film, the boys get the sweets out. Casey's favourites are the fruit pastilles. Harvey chose both the Minstrels and Aero Bubbles because he couldn't make up his mind; and the Jelly Babies are for Gary, as he's given up chocolate in a bid to lose a few pounds. Kallie has to make do with grabbing what she can.
As for the film, despite having seen it before, they all enjoyed it again and can't wait for the third instalment out this summer at the cinema.
Kallie admits that it's difficult finding a nights when they are all together. "We both have full-time jobs and Gary works away a lot. Then he's got football training two nights a week while I've got keep fit, plus I'm studying for an executive diploma in management. Then the boys all have after-school activities."
Kallie says that even with all this, they have dinner at the table most nights as it gives them all a chance to catch up with each other. "On Friday and Saturday nights we do eat in front of the TV, and Saturday night is usually when we'll all be in and sit and watch the TV together, particularly if Dr Who is on.
"A family night in, all together in front of the TV with a pizza, might sound simple, but when you're busy it can be difficult to achieve so when we do it's great fun," she says.
Every year there are more than five billion home snacking opportunities within the UK, including family DVD nights, parties, girls' nights in and couples enjoying time together. So says Mike Tipping, head of customer relations at Cadbury Trebor Bassett (CTB). However, he points out that according to AC Nielsen figures, the 'everyday sharing' category of confectionery declined by 5% in 2006, but adds that "the relaunch of Cadbury Snaps successfully propelled the category closer to growth in the final quarter".
"Retailers benefited from increased consumer awareness of Snaps, following our £3m advertising campaign which included new TV ads and in-store sampling. The main aim of this activity was to drive trial and it worked, because following the first instalment of the Snaps relaunch activity sales were up by 52% versus 2005 (AC Nielsen). We plan to continue brand support well into this year with more TV advertising to further drive sales."
Tipping reckons many retailers are still not making the most of the Big Night In sales opportunity. "Instead of making the shopping experience hassle-free, some retailers are actually making it harder for the shopper," he says. "Retailers who position sharing products from different categories separately around their stores are missing out on sales because shoppers can't find what they're looking for."
Chocolate, crisps and drinks are all popular for a Big Night In so CTB recommends making the most of this sales opportunity by displaying category-leading products from each of these areas in their own sharing bays. "Based on sales data, retailers should dedicate 52% of the fixture to confectionery, 26% to savoury snacks and 22% to soft drinks,"
"Sharing bays provide an impactful 'one-stop' snacking destination that will grab shoppers' attention and make the whole shopping experience much more convenient. But it's important to make sure they are visible and in a high footfall area to attract impulse sales. Placing the bay next to beers, wines and spirits is also recommended."
Andrea Taylor, trade relations manager at Masterfoods, agrees with Tipping about the Big Night In sales opportunity. "Consumers are increasingly putting nights out on hold, in favour of inviting friends and family over for a get-together at home. This is especially true at the moment, as we all recover from the expensive festive season. Retailers can capitalise on this by stocking up on the top-selling sharing products that are popular at all times of the year," she says. Taylor points to pouches in particular, and the great success Masterfoods has had with its pouch packaging for Maltesers, M&M's, Minstrels and Revels.
"The new packaging has increased sales of our sharing bags by 17% year on year, in turn growing the value of the total bitesize category and seeing a 14.3% increase in the all-important rate of sale (IRI data)," says Taylor.
The slice is right
Research reveals that consumers spend about £700m a year on delivered/takeaway pizzas, and Schwan's wants to grab 5% of this spend. That's why it's adding 10 new pizzas to its Chicago Town TakeAway sub-brand.
The range is designed to reflect the variants on a takeaway pizza menu and now offers top heavy, original and pan pizzas in individual and sharing sizes. Under its original TakeAway, Schwan's is offering 'The Deal' which includes an original five-cheese pizza with an accompanying portion of garlic bread for £3.
In addition, there will be an
on-pack 'taste guarantee' on two million packs, stating 'as good as your usual takeaway or your money back!'. Paula Wyatt, senior brand manager for Chicago Town TakeAway, explains: "Takeaway is the benchmark against which all other pizzas are judged and we wanted to match that offering, but at supermarket prices. We are inviting consumers to put our pizzas to the test and let us know if the product does not meet takeaway standards. But we are confident that the overall product quality, proposition, packaging, taste and appearance will match, if not exceed, their expectations."
Meanwhile, the latest launch from Dr Oetker, The Deep Crisp, aims to encourage 'deep-pan sceptics' back into the sector. Dr Oetker says that's because The Deep Crisp uses a special flour process and production technique to deliver a light, layered base that's crispy on the outside and soft inside. It boasts a 25cm diameter base, which is topped to the edge. There are four toppings: four cheese & red onion; pepperoni supreme; Hawaii and BBQ chicken. The pizzas boast a 25% quicker cooking time versus other deep-pan pizzas, at only 12-15 minutes, versus the typical 25 minutes.
Up until a few years ago deep-pan was the largest pizza sector in the UK. However, it has now been overtaken by thin and crispy products and was worth £87m last year, a reduction of £3m in the past three years.
Dr Oetker UK head of marketing Matthew Wilson comments: "Consumer demand for deep-pan pizza has decreased due to a lack of innovation and a reliance on cut-price promotions, poor-quality ingredients and little choice in toppings. The sector drastically needs a boost, which we believe we are delivering with The Deep Crisp.
The Deep Crisp is being backed
by a £6m marketing spend including advertising, PR and sampling throughout 2007/08.
Wash it down
Big Nights In usually involve alcohol and E&J Gallo Winery has run a number of successful promotions for independent retailers to capitalise on, such as partnerships between Gallo Family Vineyards and Lindt chocolates. Ian Thomas, impulse channel controller for E&J Gallo, says retailers should look out for more of such promotions in 2007.
He adds: "Branded wines are a safe choice as they offer the consumer consistency and value for money. Forty bottles of Gallo Family Vineyards wine are sold every minute in the impulse sector, making it one of the most popular wine brands in the country.
"Indeed, sales of Gallo Family Vineyards wines have grown 2.5% as the overall wine market declines in the impulse sector."
He advises c-store retailers to make a feature of wine in their stores to remind shoppers you stock it: "Use shelf barkers to direct people to the wine section when they're purchasing food and to give food and wine pairing advice. Displaying wine outside of the wine section will ensure that all customers have the opportunity to see the wine you have available and encourage them to view the full selection."
Thomas recommends displaying wine next to the snacks section and vice versa, to be sure to grab the attention of all customers. He also advises retailers to have a good selection of deals: "We are promoting a number of different wines in the cash and carries and symbol groups which make it viable for retailers to offer their customers multibuy deals. There are a number of Gallo Family Vineyards wines available at promotional prices. Bestway and Batleys cash and carries, for instance, will be offering Gallo Family Vineyards Turning Leaf wines for the promotional price of £19.99 plus VAT, usually £27.99 plus VAT, in March."
Big push for Big Night In
The DVD rental opportunity for convenience stores is bigger than ever before. That's the message from ChoicesUK Local, which is relaunching its offer with the emphasis on the Big Night In.
Sales director Rob Standen says: "There have been press reports that rental is in decline and rental specialists have closed because consumers are downloading films or renting via online libraries. However, these consumers are what we call top-end users and they're not typical c-store customers. Typical c-store customers will still use their local DVD library."
ChoicesUK Local's business development director Gerry Hooper is keen for retailers to create theatre around the Big Night In concept and to this end Choices has come up with a new range of themed point-of-sale material.
"Home entertainment can really push up basket spend," says Hooper. "Things like interest rate rises mean consumers are tightening their belts and staying in more, so DVD rental will only get bigger."
He says there's very little risk involved for the retailer as the films, racking and pos are all supplied free, plus they can now earn up to 30% margin on rental.
UBUK's Specials range of sharing packs has grown with the addition of four new flavours:
T-bone steak with onions; sea salt & black pepper; sea salt & cider vinegar; and mature cheddar & onion chutney. In the tortilla range, red chilli & lime flavour is being replaced by hot jalapeno peppers & cheese.
Recent research by Italian lager brand Birra Moretti found that 40% of people prefer to cook Italian food at home, which is more than any other type of international cuisine. Sarah O'Shaughnessy, brand manager for Birra Moretti, says it's the number one beer in Italy, and to boost sales here retailers should promote it alongside Italian food products or with complementary items such as crisps and nuts.
For the impatient consumer, Rustlers microwaveable snacks are ideal as they can be cooked in just over a minute, which is less than a typical TV ad break. Coincidentally, the brand's £4.5m marketing campaign for 2007 kicks off this month with a new TV ad. Other brand activity promised for this year includes new products, on-pack promotions, new point of sale and merchandising and national product sampling.