Fill your store with a selection of best-sellers, premium lines and novelties and you’re sure to have customers shelling out this Easter.
In 2016 Easter confectionery was worth a massive £346m and the category is in long-term growth, up from £319m in 2011, claims Nestlé Confectionery. This year the season will benefit from three additional weeks and so the growth is only expected to continue.
Malteaster and Lindt Bunnies have no doubt been bouncing around your dumpbins for a couple of months now, while Cadbury Creme Eggs and Smarties Choc Chicks have been nestling on your counter tops. But as Easter draws nearer, it’s time to up the ante and go big on Easter displays.
Simon Lunn, owner of Simply Fresh Weare in Axbridge, Somerset, opts for two large seasonal displays. “We have five or six 0.75m shelves where we put everything from Creme Eggs and hanging bags to shell eggs. We have it all in by the end of January and display it immediately. We have one display by the store entrance to catch the eye straight away, and another opposite the main confectionery offering.”
Nick Parker, manager at St Mary’s Gate Stone Spar in Manchester, is also quick to get his shell eggs out in-store. “The first batch of shell eggs came in at the beginning of February,” he says. “We have all our shell eggs out about six to eight weeks before Easter – we display them above the fridges around the store.”
He claims that this doesn’t have an instant impact on sales, but rather plants the idea in customers’ minds that the shop takes Easter seriously. “We hardly sell any until two weeks before Easter when we’ll put them on a seven- or eight-shelf display in a prominent position in the store.
“Space is a big issue for us, so we can’t give them that much room for the full length of the season. You have to make sure you display clear pricing and POS material. People like to know the prices before they buy.”
Nisa retailer Paul Cornell also has to work around space restrictions at Castle Stores in Chelmsford, Gloucestershire. “We used to dedicate 8ft of space to our Easter display, but we’ve just had a refit which has increased our chillers and cut down on ambient space. So this Easter we’ve used extension shelves above our confectionery fixture to make a 4ft Easter display and then I’ll be looking at creating floor stacks,” he says.
“Our products were on display from the first week in February. Although we don’t sell many at the time, it tells customers we do stock them when they’re ready to buy.”
Shell eggs have been on display at 1,500sq ft Costcutter Narborough in Leicestershire since mid-Feb. “We brought out our Easter stock on February 15 (after Valentine’s Day),” says owner Jagbir Ashwal. “We try to get our Easter products out early for people to see so that they know we stock a good range.”
He dedicates a gondola end to Easter, as well as a 1m bay in the confectionery run, plus hods around the store and clip-strips in key impulse areas.
“You need to be pro-active around it,” he claims. “Use upselling and get staff telling people what’s out there. If someone buys a Lindt bar, our staff will tell them about the bunnies.”
At Navin Soni’s five Thriftys stores in Merseyside it’s a case of the more the merrier. “Shell eggs are out from February. We buy 20-odd pallets of eggs and boxed chocolates for Easter, and because people know that we have them they come to us on Easter weekend,” he says. “As soon as products come out, we get them in and place them all over the shop to plant the seed. People buy them in advance and then end up cracking them open watching Coronation Street and have to come back for more!
“We have an allocation for a promotion bay and we have storage at the top of our shelving so that products are always on display.”
How to get the most from Easter confectionery
Retailers should ensure displays are changed to suit seasonality and should use the opportunity to communicate to their customers exactly what they are planning to sell, and when.
Cross-merchandising is becoming ever-more popular as it can vastly increase impulse purchases and is perfect for creating interesting and engaging displays, which also makes it easier for customers to shop.
Create a focal point that draws consumers to the display and then keep their attention by catering for as many senses as possible. Tastings are a great way to engage customers and measure the popularity of products.
Use all the space around the display – suspend props from the ceiling and use floor stickers for maximum impact.
Clearly price all items and stock pricemarked packs prominently as they help independent retailers break down the misconception that c-stores are more expensive than multiples while making products stand out on shelf.
If applicable, exploit national TV advertising through supporting new product development in the category.
Source: Hancocks Cash & Carry
Easter is unmissable at Sherston Village Stores in Wiltshire. “We have a special display on a gondola and another behind the counter by the cigarettes, so that you can’t help but see eggs at the till,” says owner Paul Mather.
The team also gets customers in the mood for Easter with an egg hunt around the store organised by Paul’s wife Gail and staff member Liz Snow. “When a child completes the hunt they get a free Creme Egg and are entered into our Easter draw to win a big egg,” says Paul. “It helps to encourage people to travel around the store and it’s something for grandparents to do with the kids during the holidays. It fosters a good relationship with locals, which has long-term benefits.”
He notes that many customers bulk-buy small treat items, such as Creme Egg or Malteaster Bunnies, at a discount to use in egg hunts.
Key advice for retailers this Easter
Both Malteaster Bunny and Galaxy Golden Eggs are supported by eye-catching POS displays and retailers should make sure they utilise these materials to create in-store theatre, especially as Easter is a busy time in-store
Gifting is a major factor at Easter so retailers should ensure they stock a full range of small, medium, large and luxury eggs to cater for all ages and budgets
Retailers constrained by space should opt for the large and luxury eggs as they provide a greater return on investment
Source: Mars Chocolate
Keeping the kids happy
Steph Latham, manager of Hunts Spar Lostock Hall in Preston, keeps a close eye on seasonal trends, too. Last year she picked up on strong demand for children’s novelty eggs. “Spar do a cuddly toy with an egg cup and a chocolate egg for younger children. It works well for parents who don’t want to give kids too much chocolate. It’s priced at about £4 or £5, which you don’t mind spending on your own child or loved ones.”
Thorntons kids’ lines have also caused a stir in previous years. “The small Thorntons eggs with football and butterfly designs go really well,” says Steph.
As part of the 2017 Easter line-up, Ferrero will bring back improved versions of its Thorntons Butterfly Milk Egg, Cupcake Milk Egg and Football Milk Egg. Gruffalo Milk Egg, Harry Hopalot Milk Egg and the Harry Hopalot White Egg will also return to shelves.
New toys for Kinder surprise
Kinder is introducing a raft of Kinder Surprise Pink and Blue eggs for a limited time only.
Available from February until Easter, the eggs aim to capitalise on the popularity of Barbie and Justice League toys, under licence from Mattel and Warner Bros. The launch will be supported with a £1.3m TV advertising campaign kicking off in March for six weeks.
Levi Boorer, customer development director at Ferrero UK, says: “Kinder Pink and Blue first launched in 2013 and the brand is now worth £67m, while continuing to grow (15%) in a declining kids’ confectionery category.”
The new Kinder Surprise Pink and Blue eggs will carry an rrp of 86p.
Retailers can access a range of POS material suitable for all store sizes by visiting www.ferrero-trade.co.uk.
Kinder products were another hit for Steph. “People went mad for the large Kinder Eggs with the giant toy,” she enthuses. “I don’t think anywhere nearby had the large Kinder Eggs last year and customers were asking us to save them. We managed to get a second order and they sold really well.”
Launching for spring 2017, Kinder Surprise will be partnering with two new licences, My Little Pony and Transformers, available in 100g format (rrp £5.49). The new large eggs will be available in individual boxes, ideal for gifting.
Nick has also seen success with Kinder. “Our best-sellers were the £4 Kinder eggs with a toy inside. The only issue was that there were four eggs in a case – two blue and two pink. The blue ones flew out and the girls ones weren’t as fast.”
As far as Jayesh Patel of Nisa Upper Beeding, West Sussex, is concerned, Kinnerton has the standout kids’ offering. “We’ll get through an outer of the Kinnerton kids’ gift packs, retailing at £4.50,” he states.
Jagbir is equally impressed with Kinnerton. “The younger children’s products were very popular last year,” he says. “Kinnerton do a plate, cup, spoon and egg gift pack with kids’ characters like Peppa Pig, Minions, Disney Princesses and Thomas the Tank Engine. People were buying them by the caseload. They were only £3 and we sold out by March. We tried to get more, but couldn’t. The margin is 28-29% so it’s not bad at all, and when you sell at a keen price point you know you won’t be stuck with it. That’s the difference between us and Tesco Express. They wouldn’t stock a product like that and we’ll have a strong range and reach out to people who wouldn’t even walk down the chocolate aisle.”
Nestlé springs into action
This Easter Nestlé is unveiling Smarties and Milkybar 3D Activity Packs, which combine traditional play with digital technology in a category-first for Easter. Each pack contains an array of chocolate treats as well as colouring pencils to colour a picture of either the Easter Bunny or the Milkybar Kid, which then comes to life when consumers download the free app.
Also making its debut is the Milkybar Chick in Egg. The eye-catching pack features a foil-wrapped white chocolate egg complete with a white chocolate chick inside. It joins Smarties Chick in Egg (rrp £2.55) launched in 2016.
Also new for 2017 are Milkybar and Smarties Bunnies five-packs comprising foil-wrapped hollow chocolates (rrp £1.99). The latter has mini Smarties inside.
Once again in the range this spring are the popular Smarties Hen House and Milkybar Milkybarn packs (rrp 4.99), which together grew 8% in 2016. Both have a new design that enables them to become puppet shows.
Medium eggs make up a huge percentage of Easter category sales. This year’s range from Nestlé includes offerings from big brands with broad appeal: Kitkat Chunky, Smarties, Aero Bubbles and Rolo. The latter three will all benefit from a redesign for 2017 which communicates that the sweets are inside the chocolate egg.
Meanwhile, sales of adult eggs have grown 19% since 2011. The mid-to-late season is critical for sales of adult eggs, with nearly 70% of sales coming in the last three weeks before Easter, claims the firm.
New from Nestlé adult shell eggs for 2017 is the Quality Street Honeycomb Crunch egg (rrp £3) and the Lion Collection giant egg (rrp £7.49).
Another category that retailers are finding gives them a point of difference from the multiples is premium eggs. “We might try some Thorntons Eggs this year, the ones about the £4 mark,” says Simon. “Grand Rocher sold well last Easter, so we know people like premium lines and we’ll be getting them in again.”
In fact, Grand Rocher gained double-digit growth during spring 2016, up 32% in value and 46% volume, according to Ferrero.
Steph agrees that premium lines are a safe bet for c-stores. “People want the good, premium lines as gifts for loved ones,” she says. “As the years go on, people look for something different – it’s not always Twirl or Wispa eggs.”
But shoppers still want value for money, she claims. “The Giant Cadbury Eggs were really disappointing last year. They were priced at £9.99 for an egg and you only got two bars with it. People are more money conscious now and they didn’t feel that they were getting enough for their money compared with the medium-sized eggs.”
Nick echoes this viewpoint. “The Giant Cadbury Eggs didn’t sell well here. For £10 you’re getting two £1 chocolate bars and a slightly larger egg, so it’s just not that much more for your money,” he says. “We ended up splitting them down and sold the eggs at £2 and the bars separately. We were still losing £6 in retail per egg so it wasn’t great. We’ll be steering clear of those this year.”
However, he notes that shoppers were happy to pay premium prices for other brands. “The luxury Lindt eggs at £8 and the Thorntons chocolate brownie and lemon meringue eggs performed well.”
Ferrero customer development director Levi Boorer concurs that luxury lines create a key point of difference. “When it comes to choosing what to buy, shoppers have begun to look at how special and unique the products are and to show the thought that has gone into each purchase,” he says.
Following sales doubling during Easter 2016, Thorntons Dessert Eggs range will return for 2017.It comprises lemon meringue, pecan pie and chocolate fudge brownie variants (rrp £12) . The firm has also launched Thorntons Collection Eggs available in nuts & praline, fruit, toffee, fudge & caramel and mint flavours (rrp £6).
Paul Cornell is also venturing further into the realm of premium eggs. “This year we’re ordering a few more expensive Lindt eggs and we’re going to use a local company that makes handmade eggs,” he says. “They’ll retail between £8.99 and £20. Before now, I’ve never gone over £6.99 so it’s a risk, but I’m confident.”
Paul Mather is a big fan of premium lines. “We tend to be different to the multiples, so we get luxury Belgian chocolate eggs, horses, ducks and hens from House of Sarunds. They are priced between £4 and £5.99. Because we are a farming community, themed gifts really appeal. It’s about quality and symbolism; giving someone a thoughtful gift, rather than just the biggest egg in the world.”
House of Sarunds is predicting a significant rise in demand for artisan decorated eggs for Easter 2017. “The supermarkets have captured the value end of the market with price-driven deals that make it impossible for independent retailers to compete,” says managing director Peter Martin. “So instead of getting into a price war, our advice is to stock premium lines from artisan suppliers which are not routinely available elsewhere.”
The House of Sarunds’ Easter range features luxury handmade eggs from Kent chocolatier Stas, including: a large 300g milk chocolate egg filled with salted milk chocolate eggs (rrp £10.99); a super large 700g milk chocolate sweetie Easter egg (rrp £19.99); and an exclusive flame wrapped 360g Van Roy milk chocolate egg with salted caramel and marc de Champagne truffles (rrp £12.99).
Says Martin: “Shell and filled eggs will always be popular and although they should be the mainstay of an Easter range, retailers should look for some key ‘stand out’ statement pieces with the wow factor to create a point of difference and really help drive sales.”
The lowdown on egg hunts
Egg hunts are growing in the UK with 83% of mums having planned or participated in an egg hunt in Easter 2016, claims Mondelez International.
Small wrapped eggs are the key format for those at home, as well as hollow chocolate figurines and small Easter eggs.
“Retailers should stock products that can serve as treasures and also as the main prizes,” says Mondelez trade communications manager Susan Nash. “Stock up at the end of March when the countdown is on!”
The company has added a 276g bag of Cadbury Minis Mix containing four popular variants from the current wrapped minis range. It claims that miniature eggs are growing by 3.3% and are now worth £56m.
The firm has also released a 50g Cadbury Dairy Milk Popping Candy Bunny, suitable for egg hunts. The new hollow (rrp £1.49) contains pieces of popping candy, which is already a best-selling flavour for Cadbury Dairy Milk Marvellous Creations.
In addition, Cadbury will be involved in public egg hunts with partners across the UK.
Nestlé Confectionery is also tapping into the egg hunt trend. After performing well as a customer exclusive in 2016, new to the general market for 2017 is the Milkybar Egg Hunt pack, which contains eight small foil-wrapped eggs. It will join the Smarties Egg Hunt pack, which was number three in the market in 2016, growing 18% year on year. It contains eight small foiled chocolate eggs filled with mini Smarties. Both have a £3.99 rrp.
Stocking sugar confectionery seasonal goods can also give convenience retailers the edge. “The likes of Haribo and Maynards Bassetts are doing different things for Easter,” notes Simon. “Suddenly people see Jelly Babies are Jelly Bunnies. It is a saturated market, but people like to have different products to choose from.”
Claire Caley, seasonal brand manager at Haribo UK, wholeheartedly agrees. “When it comes to Easter it’s not all about chocolate. Sweets have an important role to play, adding much-needed variety into the seasonal aisle through pack sizes, flavours, textures and fun.”
Included in Haribo’s themed seasonal treats is the Chick ‘n’ Mix gift box; Springtime Friends; Jelly Bunnies and Fizzy Farm Animals sharing bags. Haribo will also be showcasing its Easter Hunt multipacks, which include mini bags of themed treats. Available in two formats, a 200g multipack (rrp £1) that features 11 mini bags and a 400g pack (rrp £2) that includes 22 mini bags, packs contain bunny, lamb and chick-shaped jellies.
Mark Walker, sales director at British sweet manufacturer Swizzels, is also keen to highlight seasonal sugar options. “Consumers are increasingly looking for alternatives to chocolate over the Easter period and consequently the market for sugar confectionery has grown rapidly. It was clear from 2016 that sharing bags and tubs are the key sellers in the run up to Easter and in the past two years Swizzels has grown by 11% over this period.”
The firm’s Easter Mix tub and Spring Selection bag, which saw huge double-digit growth in 2016, are returning for Easter 2017.
Don’t forget about easter cakes
With Premier Foods valuing occasion cakes at £138m and growing at 5.2%, Mr Kipling is adding a fresh touch to its range with orange & lemon slices and lemon bakewells (both rrp £1).
Meanwhile, Cadbury Cakes will be expanding its latest whole cakes offering by introducing a new Cadbury Mini Egg Easter Joy Cake (rrp £5.99), filled with a yellow butter cream and topped with Mini Eggs.
Karmel Maletta, innovation controller for Mr Kipling and Cadbury Cakes, says: “Mr Kipling and Cadbury Cakes are already firm family favourites, owning more than 80% share of the Easter cake market.”
While some consumers like to buy packaged cake, others prefer a DIY approach. “For the £936m home baking category, Easter is the second biggest event after Christmas and a huge opportunity for sales for retailers,” says Dr Oetker executive head of marketing Jan McKee. “Simnel Cake is the seasonal tradition – a light fruitcake with layers of marzipan – so fruit and marzipan should feature predominantly in the fixture. During this period, bakers are also starting to incorporate more spices in cakes and biscuits, such as ginger and mixed spice to bring something different to their creations.”
She adds that chocolate is the key flavour for home baking during spring and recommends stocking milk and extra-dark cooking chocolate, as well as cocoa powder and icing. “The flow of the fixture should go from the more experienced (scratch bakers) to the less experienced where possible – for example, flour to cake mixes – to include a range of customers who are looking for different products at the fixture. Point of sale material is key, as shoppers often need inspiration to buy new products or expand on their repertoire.”
Of course, while it is crucial for c-stores to differentiate themselves from the big boys, there are certain big brands that are undeniable best-sellers. “Last year we had a two for £4 link save on Cadbury shell eggs,” says Jagbir. “They sold really, really well. In fact, they sold out in week one and we were still meant to run the promotion for another two weeks, so we’ll be looking to order bigger quantities this year.”
Navin has also witnessed the popularity of Cadbury lines. “You can’t beat Cadbury shell eggs,” he says. “You can sell them with your eyes closed. The Creme Egg, Mini Egg and Buttons shell eggs are the main ones that go, though Freddo and Oreo are good, too.
“We look at the supermarkets and see what they do. They’ll have five Buttons eggs to one Kitkat Chunky. They’ve spent billions on market research so we might as well take advantage and follow them.”
Nick also notes that Cadbury medium eggs are a reliable seller, while Jayesh praises Cadbury Dairy Milk, Twirl and Wispa medium eggs, as well as Mars, Snickers and Maltesers eggs.
By stocking a strong selection of sure-fire winners, complemented by an inspiring selection of premium and novelty seasonal lines, you can ensure that you ace this Easter. “I’d advise any retailer to definitely give Easter a go,” says Simon. “People will always want that distress purchase.”
Paul Cornell is equally confident. “It’s looking up this year, so we’re feeling confident that we’ll have another good Easter,” he says. “You just have to make sure that you put eggs in a prominent area and use POS material to create theatre. We’ve ordered 10% more than last year, which is risky, but we had to do it.”
Navin is also feeling positive. “Lots of stores are scared to go big on Easter, but we’re not,” he says. “We just put pallets out on the floor and people grab them. They know they’ll get a good deal when they come here.”