Mention Easter to a convenience retailer and the general consensus is that it’s all gone a bit Humpty Dumpty. Turn the clocks back a few years and you could bet your last chocolate chicken you’d have shell eggs springing out the door with all the vigour of a newborn lamb. But these days the mults offer such heavy discounts that it’s impossible to compete. Nevertheless, just because traditional eggs are no longer a major seller, it doesn’t mean there aren’t other opportunities for innovative independents.
“It’s laying down and dying not to stock Easter goods,” says Ian Irvine, product controller at wholesale group Sugro. The company runs a retailer advice club called Sweet Break and spends much of its time advising retailers on what to stock. “You’ve got to look at where you can be strong,” says Irvine. “As soon as you say ‘Let’s leave the season to the mults’, you’re missing out on opportunities.”
“We sell the self-eat products such as Cadbury Creme Eggs in the run up to Easter. In the past we used to buy the medium shell eggs, but now people go to the multiples for those.
“We still make an effort to create theatre. My wife creates an Easter window display with chicks and bunnies and lots of yellow for spring. When the multiples shut on Easter Sunday we get a lot of people coming in to make distress purchases, so we still sell some shell eggs, but less than we used to.
“We do a lot of the premium eggs and we offer boxed chocolates, which do particularly well on Mother’s Day.”
Barrie Seymour, Londis, Liversedge, West Yorkshire
One area that retailers can fully embrace is impulse. Cadbury is investing a whopping £5m behind Cadbury Creme Eggs this year. The gooey goodies have been advertised on TV since January and will remain on our screens until Easter Sunday, so retailers should be giving them prominence.
Consumers went hopping mad for MaltEaster Bunnies when they bounced onto the scene in 2009 and the products continued to do well last year so much so that Mars had a job keeping up with demand. “Bunny sales were up 35% compared with last year,” says Mars trade relations manager Bep Dhaliwal. “Last year bunny sales more than doubled and some stores even ran out! We are planning to improve their availability this year to ensure availability throughout the Easter period.”
And, as we all know, anything that’s new is likely to get people talking and, more importantly, spending, so no self-eat display would be complete without the Luvabubble Aero Lamb, which Nestlé believes will continue to perform even after Easter Sunday. “We constantly talk to retailers to get their feedback, and one pointed out how the Lamb symbolises spring, rather than simply Easter,” says Nestlé UK trade communications manager Graham Walker. “Whereas an egg looks dated after Easter, a lamb is still relevant, so we encourage people to think of it as a spring limited-edition product, rather than solely for Easter.”
Of course, there is one chocolate egg which scores particularly high on the longevity front. Available 365 days a year, Kinder Surprise eggs are a convenience store staple, but they do particularly well during Easter. In fact, according to the brand’s customer development manager Helen Olley, Kinder Surprise was the top seller in the impulse channel. “In the 15 weeks running up to Easter Kinder Surprise had £3.4m value sales, versus Cadbury Creme Egg’s £3.3m,” she claims. “Kinder eggs don’t get discounted like other products, so retailers can really get behind it. Also, there is less risk attached to stocking up on Kinder Eggs as they can be sold all year round.”
After a seven-year break, Kinder Surprise is back on TV thanks to a £4m investment in above-the-line marketing from brand owner Ferrero.
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