With news headlines full of doom and gloom, people could be forgiven for being a little down in the dumps. But there’s one strata of society still beaming - chocolate fans - as big brands go into overdrive with consumer engagement to lift spirits and those all-important sales.


That’s how much the everyday chocolate market is worth in the independent channel

Source: IRI, occasions, independent impulse, value rate of sale, 12 weeks ending November 2012

‘Inchocsicated’, ‘meltilicious’ and ‘dairytastic’ are just some of the words consumers have come up with as they compete to win the coveted position of Honorary Cadbury Taster. The latest part of Cadbury’s Joyville campaign involves a social media competition, encouraging consumers to tweet their suggestions for a new word to describe the taste of Cadbury Dairy Milk (CDM). The creator of the winning word will be awarded a chocolate crown, the opportunity to design their own CDM bar, and a taste of all new Cadbury launches before they hit the shelves.

At Nestlé, the second round of its tongue-in-cheek Choose a Chunky Champion campaign has begun. The campaign’s debut last year saw £4.3m-worth of election Chunkys sold and a 275% increase in Chunky consumers. The activity, which encouraged consumers to vote for their favourite from four limited-edition Chunky flavours, had a halo effect across the whole Chunky brand, resulting in £60m total Kit Kat Chunky sales.

This year Nestlé is again targeting 18- to 30-year-old males with new mint, coconut, hazelnut and choc fudge Chunky variants, each backed by their own spoof superheroes. The campaign is being backed by a £5m media campaign, including TV advertising and Blippar and Shazam interaction, and voting time has been increased to eight weeks’ duration. At the time of going to press, the last of the votes were being counted up.

Top tips

Even though the market remains tough, retailers can still grow sales through effective merchandising, claims Ferrero customer development director Levi Boorer. He advises:

1. Stock the best-sellers as they will provide a greater rate of sale 85% of confectionery sales come from a core range

2. Ensure you keep your shelves full of product and well-organised so that shoppers can find what they are looking for easily

3. Be aware of which brands are being heavily supported with marketing or running on-pack promotions as this will drive consumer awareness, which you can translate to sales

4. Pricemarking is an effective way to communicate value to consumers who can be very price orientated around certain price points, such as the round pound

5. Use bespoke POS to help create in-store theatre and draw attention to impulse purchases at till points.

Source: Ferrero

Running head-to-head with the Chunky campaign are two Mars’ limited-edition Snickers bars. The firm has replaced its original variant with More Nuts and More Caramel varieties, supported by the ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ campaign. The humorous TV ad, backed with outdoor advertising, really struck a chord with ravenous male consumers, and Snickers grew by 20.9% when the campaign made its debut in 2012.

But despite this activity making the bar front of mind, Hancocks has voiced concerns over Snickers’ pricing mechanisms. “The Kit Kat Chunky Champion campaign has worked well for Hancocks and our customers. However, Snickers More Nuts and More Caramel have been disappointing,” says purchasing director Jonathan Summerley. “Mars has launched a four-pack of each variety with a £1 rrp. This is impossible for our retailers to achieve, demonstrating that not only does the campaign have to work, the product format and pricing structure have to work for all types of retailer, too.”

Nevertheless, Hancocks is very supportive of the increase in the number of interactive campaigns, which ask consumers to vote with their feet. “As far as the creativity of such activity is concerned, the more the better! Involving consumers and injecting fun into campaigns is definitely a positive step forward,” it says.

Over at the female end of the spectrum, Kinder Bueno has seen 14% growth, with both the white and classic variant sharing an equal rate of sale. “Our recent ‘Indulgence lightly done’ campaign reinforced this brand proposition, resulting in a 47% uplift in sales, and we are continuing to build on this with the ‘Try the great taste for free’ promotion and fashion-focused on-pack offer,” says Ferrero customer development director Levi Boorer. The brand is currently on TV with a 10-second tag supporting the promotion, designed to grab the attention of women who haven’t tried Kinder Bueno before, as well as to act as an added incentive to those who have.

Mondelēz International has also been flirting with the women’s market with Cadbury Crispello. “Since its launch in September 2012, Cadbury Crispello has proved to boost sales for on-the-go occasions, bringing 190,000 shoppers to the chocolate singles category within its first 12 weeks,” says trade communications manager Susan Nash. Crispello is Cadbury’s first new countline brand launch since the nineties, and it is already worth almost £3m.

Retailer’s view

“Kit Kat Chunky is doing really well in our store - people like to try new flavours. When the campaign launched this year I bought five sets of the four different flavours and we were down to the last box in a fortnight. Kinder Bueno is another good seller for us.

“The £1 pricemarked blocks are good performers, too. Last year Mars brought out £1 pricemarked Galaxy blocks and they flew off the shelves. Then they put the price up to £1.39 and they didn’t move. Now that the £1 block is available again, sales have picked up.

“Sharing bags also fly off the shelves. People are staying in more to save money and they buy big bags of crisps, drinks and sharing chocolate. Cadbury Buttons, Caramel Nibbles, Revels and Maltesers pouches all sell well.”

Kalpesh Parmar, Parmar Trading, Totton, Hampshire

“More manufacturers are seeing the potential of targeting either men or women with a particular chocolate product,” notes Summerley. “Kinder Bueno seems to have perfected its offering to women and Hancocks is seeing the brand go from strength to strength. Conversely, Crispello - launched entirely with females in mind - has struggled to maintain a meaningful rate of sale at Hancocks.”

One area that continues to appeal to both men and women is sharing chocolate. “A ‘Big Night In’ can include anything from family DVD nights, parties, girls’ nights in, boys’ nights watching sports, playing games with the family, and couples enjoying time together at home,” says Nash. “Whatever the night entails, it often focuses on sharing food, sharing entertainment and sharing time. Evenings are the crucial consumption time, with 53% of confectionery consumption taking place at home in the evening, and 67% of shared evening treats are with a partner. As a result, sharing bags and block formats have performed well over the past year.” Cadbury-branded chocolate bags alone are worth more than £104.9m.

Top 10 large pouch lines

1. Maltesers

2. Galaxy Minstrels

3. Cadbury Giant Buttons large

4. M&M’s

5. Revels

6. Cadbury Giant Buttons handy

7. Cadbury Twirl Bites

8. Galaxy Counters

9. Dairy Milk Caramel

10. Milky Way

Source: Mars

Mars concurs that the Big Night In trend is spurring on the sharing category. “The Big Night In trend shows no sign of abating,” asserts Mars Chocolate trade communications manager Bep Dhaliwal. “The block category has experienced growth at 37%, with bitesize growing 7.7%, which means sharing products should be considered essentials for all retailers. Sales of sharing bag pouches have increased by 27% and, what’s more, 31% of people decide to purchase pouch confectionery after seeing it in store, highlighting its position as the most impulsive segment.”

Dual-siting sharing bags can increase sales by up to 50%, she adds. “As shoppers browse in search of popular Big Night In products such as ice cream, wine and beer, secondary siting is a great way of reminding them not to forget the other crucial components that make for a great night in and to boost cross-category sales. For example, siting a Slenda Glenda featuring Mars Bitesize products alongside the wine and beer fridge will appeal directly to shoppers stocking up for a Big Night In.”

Top 10 singles

1. Mars

2. Nestlé Kit Kat

3. Cadbury Twirl

4. Snickers

5. Wispa

6. Snickers Duo

7. Twix

8. Mars Duo Kingsize

9. Cadbury Dairy Milk

10. Cadbury Crunchie Standard

Source: Mars

Boxed chocolates are also benefiting from the trend towards entertaining at home. “There has been an increase in ‘special sharing’ moments, where treats such as Ferrero Rocher and Ferrero Collection are viewed as an affordable luxury,” says customer development director Levi Boorer.

“Research shows that there is a real sales opportunity for premium chocolate beyond gifting, as consumers are now seeing special treats as a must-have for informal nights in,” continues Boorer. “With 68% of consumers now dining in more often, and open-plan kitchens becoming increasingly popular for entertaining at home, the ‘new special’ is emerging. The ‘new special’ occasion is about taste, appeal and sharing as consumers create precious but relaxed moments with friends and family.”

Ones to watch.

Kind thoughts

Thorntons has opted for a personal approach with a collection of chocolates emblazoned with special messages such as ‘Just for you’. Packs feature nutty and caramel and toffee-filled chocolate batons, and are available in small (rrp £3.99), medium (rrp £6.99) and large (rrp £14.99) sizes.

tel: 01773 542 392

Star treatment

Mars Chocolate has revived its ‘why have cotton when you can have silk’ strapline for its latest Galaxy ads starring 50s icon Audrey Hepburn. The star has been brought back to life using CGI technology. The 60-second ad will be supported by press, sampling and digital ads.

tel: 01844 262 517

Cartoon capers

Kinder Surprise has teamed up with cartoon series The Looney Tunes Show. The programme’s characters, which include Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig, will appear on packaging and inside selected eggs as limited-edition toys. The partnership will be advertised in bursts throughout the year.

tel: 01923 690 300

Tweet treats

Cadbury has launched a campaign urging consumers to come up with a new adjective to describe the taste of Cadbury Dairy Milk. Words are submitted via tweets at cadburydairymilk.co.uk until April 1. The person who comes up with the best word will be crowned Honorary Cadbury Taster.

tel: 08702 400 861

Counter attack

Counters have been introduced in a singles format as a permanent member of the Galaxy family. The new format is supported by POS material flagging up the treats as ‘Pieces of pure chocolate pleasure’. Galaxy is the second biggest chocolate brand in the UK.

tel: 01844 262 517

Boxed chocolates within stores under 3,000sq ft are worth £146.2m, growing at 2% year on year and making up 20% of total coverage annual sales. Ferrero Rocher remains the number one classic boxed brand, with 5.8% growth year on year, while Ferrero Collection is hot on its heels as the number three special giving brand.

Thorntons has also noticed a trend towards premium chocolates for informal occasions. “There has been growth in gifting boxed chocolates across the market and a general decline in more of the mainstream categories such as twistwrap,” notes commercial director Phil Sargison.

The firm recently launched a range of ‘Today I thought of You’ chocolates. Research conducted by Thorntons shows that more than a third of those surveyed would buy chocolates just for the fun of treating their friend, or to apologise. “Women love to give gifts to their friends generally, with 95% of those surveyed saying they could always find a reason to give,” says Sargison. Boxes are available in small (rrp £3.99), medium (rrp £6.99) and large (£14.99) chocolates sizes.

Affordable pricing is also key to the countlines category, with pricemarked packs (PMPs) making their way to shelves in droves. “The prevalence of pricemarking has doubled in size year on year,” notes Boorer. “Rate of sale on a PMP can be 200-300% more than a standard variant in chocolate confectionery so can have a significant impact on sales. Research shows 48% of consumers are encouraged to switch from a preferred brand as a result of a pricemark, making them very effective for driving trial.” The firm has a selection of PMPs of Kinder Bueno and Kinder Chocolate single bars available to stock.

Mondelēz International also offers a large range of pricemarked goods. It recently introduced 50p limited-edition PMPs of Cadbury Wispa, Cadbury Crunchie, Cadbury Double Decker and Cadbury Crispello.

As well as price, though, success can come down to making sure your product choices match individual requirements. As Dhaliwal notes: “Knowing what drives customers to your store will allow you to better tailor your range to their individual needs. Taking the time to really understand shopper habits will keep them coming back for more.”