Spring is in the air and sales of Easter-related goods should be shooting up. Sarah Britton offers some advice on how to keep the momentum going

It might not always be reflected in the British weather, but in terms of retail seasons, spring has most definitely sprung. No doubt, you’ll already have sold several cases of Creme Eggs and MaltEaster Bunnies over the past few weeks. The former’s cheeky advertising campaign, which encourages consumers to ‘have a fling’ with Creme Eggs, has been running since the beginning of the year to ensure high brand awareness. And Mars is doubling MaltEaster Bunnies’ advertising run from four to eight weeks in the run up to Easter.

But while self-eat products are most certainly still a major earner, as Easter looms ever closer it’s time to bring out the big guns.

“Retailers need to ensure that stock is displayed early in the season to tell people that you have a good range of Easter gifting solutions available,” says Thorntons commercial director Phil Sargison. “Each time somebody comes into the store they will be reminded that your store has a great range of Easter products available and it gives them a reason to come back when they are ready to buy. This is especially important given that Easter distress purchases are increasing.

“Some 51% of Easter purchases were made over the week leading up to Easter Saturday, compared with 45% in 2011,” says Sargison. “Convenience stores are well placed to take advantage of consumers making last-minute purchases,” he notes. “Easter confectionery sales by store format this year showed that for all other store formats sales were down, except for convenience stores, which saw sales of £59.3m, up 7.8%.”

There’s no doubt that Easter is a big sales opportunity, but we all know that the mults will be stocked to the rafters with the most popular shell eggs, so simply sticking to all the best-sellers isn’t a good move. “The market should leave the supermarkets to scrap over the core range of branded eggs while the rest of the stores focus on the many other opportunities,” states Hancocks purchasing director Jonathan Summerley. “A high percentage of shoppers wish to buy an Easter gift that they can’t find in the supermarkets. The most important thing when choosing your display is to steer clear of obvious supermarket products. Regular trips to all of the local stores in your area should be an essential task.”

retailer’s view

Andrew Porter

“We have had huge Easter sales already this year. We had impulse items delivered before Christmas and put them out between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Since then we’ve sold a lot of Cadbury Crème Eggs, MaltEaster Bunnies and Mini Eggs.

“I had my first delivery of shell eggs at the end of January. We dedicate five bays to Easter products. Boxed chocolates have become as popular as eggs here. Brands such as Cadbury Milk Tray, Ferrero Rocher, Thorntons and Lindt are all good sellers. The big brands always perform well over Easter.

“We also make sure that we stock novelty items such as the Lindt and Ferrero bunnies.

“It’s good to create in-store theatre, so we have a strong spring display with cuddly toy bunnies and plenty of POS provided by Spar to liven things up.”

Andrew Porter, Eurospar Creightons of Finaghy, Belfast, Northern Ireland

But that isn’t to say that shell eggs aren’t worth stocking at all. “Review shell eggs carefully and look for brands or sizes that the supermarkets aren’t really stocking,” advises Summerley. “This tends to be larger eggs or more premium brands. There is good demand for these eggs and your shoppers will be glad to find something different.”

The firm has plenty on offer to fit the bill, including the 200g Ducd’O White Chocolate Egg with Strawberry Truffles (rrp £7.99), the 1.1kg Ducd’O La Boule Milk Chocolate Premier Egg (rrp £19.99), and the 400g Ducd’O Dusted Truffles Egg (rrp £10.99).

Mars agrees that bigger is often better. “If stores have limited space then retailers should look to stock up on large and premium options that offer a greater return,” says trade communications manager Bep Dhaliwal. Mars’ returning favourites for 2013 include Galaxy Indulgent Collection, M&Ms and MaltEaster Luxury Eggs, all priced at £7.99.

Adult eggs are growing in importance in the impulse channel, now accounting for 13% of total Easter confectionery sales, up from 11% in 2010, claims Nestlé. “On average, shoppers are purchasing three adult egg packs (an increase of 26%) and spending £11.21 over the season, and while adults may receive fewer eggs than children, the spend per egg is considerably higher as they’re chosen to be more special, individual gifts,” says trade communications manager Graham Walker.

He adds: “The late season is critical for sales of adult eggs as this is when 81% of shoppers buy them. With limited space on shelves, ensuring that favourite brands as well as a variety of products are on offer is key to sales success.”

For 2013, Nestlé is bringing back its large After Eight egg (rrp £5.41), and Quality Insider Egg (rrp £5.41). “For those retailers with limited shelf space these perennial favourite brands are must-stocks,” says Walker. The Aero Bubbles Peppermint Insider Egg is also returning to shelves, and new for this year is the Rowntree’s Randoms Insider Egg (rrp £5.41). The chocolate egg, which is filled with Randoms jelly sweets, is targeted at 16- to 24-year-olds.

Eggs at the upper end of the price spectrum are certainly worth your attention. The category’s strong growth (up 27%) has been driven by Nestlé Confectionery, with 60% of its giant egg sales incremental to the category. This year the firm is introducing Kit Kat Chunky Giant Egg (rrp £7.49), which comes complete with a milk chocolate, peanut butter and white chocolate Kit Kat Chunky. With the firm’s Choose a Chunky Champion campaign running until March, the brand may well be front of mind for consumers. Aero Selection Giant Egg (rrp £7.49), which includes peppermint, orange and milk chocolate Aero bars, is also new.

Thorntons suggests displaying premium eggs separately from other Easter offerings to aid shoppers in finding the right product. “People buy gifts with the specific recipient in mind, so make things easier for them,” says Sargison. “For a special person, a shopper will most likely want a more premium product, so merchandise these eggs together,” he advises.

While the general rule is to stay away from the supermarket ranges, Cadbury states that medium eggs cannot be overlooked altogether. “Although self-eat and sharing products offer the biggest sales opportunities for convenience retailers at Easter, shell eggs also have their role to play for stores that have sufficient space,” says Cadbury trade communications manager Sue Nash.

“Some 56.4% of consumers claim to buy only Cadbury Easter eggs, so to offer consumers the products they are looking for we would recommend stocking Cadbury Creme egg medium shell egg as it consistently proves to be a top-seller for retailers. Cadbury’s medium eggs deliver three times more cash sales per single point of distribution than the next nearest competitor brand.”

In addition to shell eggs, there are a wealth of Easter-themed treats that could well give your store the edge over competitors. “There are lots of different products that can offer real interest to c-stores,” says Summerley. “Consider novelty chocolate shapes and products that have a keepsake element to them.” The company has launched a range of shaped chocolate gift packs, including sheep, hot cross buns and daffodils.

Nestlé’s novelties are also set to cause a stir. Milkybar Cow (rrp £1.50) and Smarties Chicken (rrp £2.55) are back for another year, and new for 2013 is the Smarties Spring Animal Gift pack (rrp £1.99).

Ferrero has also jumped onto the Easter novelties opportunity and is launching a premium moulded bunny in January. Similar in appearance to the popular Lindt bunny, the Ferrero Rocher Bunny (rrp £2.99) is wrapped in gold foil, but the firm claims that the chocolate and hazelnut treat will appeal to a more adult audience. Says customer development manager Levi Boorer: “The Rocher Bunny is aimed at a very different consumer - young adults, and older, post-family adults - and is more upmarket, whereas the Lindt Bunny appeals to families and is less upmarket.”

Ferrero Rocher’s ‘Make your moments golden’ message will be front of mind with consumers throughout spring with TV ads featuring the new Ferrero Rocher bunny running from February 25 through to Easter.

The company is also investing in its Kinder brand. “We are placing both our Kinder Surprise and Kinder Chocolate TV ads on air in the run up to Easter, and for the first time ever will run a 10-second tag on the Kinder Surprise ad to support our Easter range,” says Boorer.

The seasonal tag will run from March 4 on the Kinder Surprise advert, to raise awareness during the key Easter sales period for kids’ confectionery in the three weeks before Easter.

Thorntons also has a strong children’s offering with Bramble Bunny mould, and Miss Flutterby and Footy Fanatic eggs, all of which are priced at £3.49. Each is made with milk chocolate, plus white and dark chocolate embellishments.

However, while novelty is important, the firm urges retailers to also consider boxed chocolates as part of their Easter range. “It is important for convenience retailers to remember that boxed chocolates were also in growth over Easter 2012, up 10% in the three weeks leading up to Easter, so the Easter offering should not just rely on eggs,” says Sargison.

Ferrero agrees that boxed chocolates, such as its Rocher and Collection offerings, are a winner at Easter. “Last year we performed ahead of the category during the spring season and boxed confectionery presents a big opportunity for independent retailers as a key category value driver during the spring period,” says Boorer.

Don’t think that all of your products have to offer a nod to Easter, concurs Hancocks, which stocks a wide range of Duc d’O Belgian boxed chocolates. “Not everyone wants to purchase eggs and confectionery displaying chicks and bunnies,” says Summerley. “Easter has become a general gifting opportunity, with chocolate and indeed sugar confectionery high up on the shopping list, so consider attractive and different general gifting ranges.”

He is confident that c-stores are truly getting to grips with Easter. “In recent years, independents and convenience stores have definitely become far savvier where Easter is concerned. The Easter confectionery market for independents continues to be challenging, as it has been for a number of years now. However, clear opportunities do exist to boost sales over this season.”•

Break the mould

As well as selling products that aren’t available in the supermarkets, you can offer services that your competitors can’t, points out Hancocks purchasing director Jonathan Summerley. “Convenience retailers should be 100% aware of the range and pricing offered in their local supermarkets it will be displayed early, allowing retailers plenty of time to react swiftly.” He offers the following tips for differentiating yourself from rivals:

• Bespoke packing and bespoke gift creation is becoming more prevalent for smaller retailers, and for good reason. With a little bit of effort, a product can be created that offers a strong margin and something unique to your store. One example might be Hancocks’ small Victorian sweet jar that many retailers buy empty. With Easter on the horizon, many might choose to fill the jar with popular mini eggs and label or gift tag it appropriately. Some simple planning can create a very popular and profitable item.

• Remember that convenience stores can excel on customer service. Give helpful advice on the range of products available, provide information if you have dairy-free chocolate gifts, for example.

• Offer discounts for bulk orders that might be of interest to schools and offices. • Different formats of promotion could also be trialled easily. You could promote a different feature product each week to encourage return visits. A simple poster in the window would help to communicate this, or make use of social media channels. Encourage your customers to buy all of their Easter confectionery from you, offering an incentive for larger purchases.

• Create a prize draw to win an Easter hamper. Everyone that purchases from a specific range of products can be entered into the draw.



Top tips

Make the most of the Easter opportunity by getting your merchandising spot on. Mars offers this advice to making your confectionery offer unmissable:

• Expand fixture space in-store. After all, Easter and chocolate go hand in hand

• Maintain your standard confectionery display, remembering that consumers continue to purchase everyday confectionery in addition to Easter products

• Cater for all ages and budgets with a range of Easter eggs. Retailers constrained by space are advised to stock large and luxury eggs which offer greater return on investment, as well as novelty impulse products

• Create theatre in-store by decorating an aisle and playing on the nostalgia of Easter, which is often one of the biggest cues for shoppers to buy.

Source: Mars


Ones to watch

Lift the lid

Spring fever has hit the biscuit aisle with Burtons launching the Cadbury Spring Tin (rrp £9) of biscuits along with special-edition Cadbury Mini Animals Bunnies (rrp £1.79). The 310g collectable tins are aimed at family sharing and gifting occasions. Total sales of seasonal biscuits in 2011 hit £111m, with Burtons taking a 20% share of these sales, claims the firm.

tel: 01727 899 700

Choc treatment

With gifting high on the agenda at Easter, Hancocks has launched two-packs of spring-inspired chocolate shapes guaranteed to appeal to both adults and children. One pack comprises chicks, daffodils and lambs, while the other boasts fried eggs, sheep and hot cross buns. Both sets are priced at £3.99 and offer a novel alternative to shell eggs.

tel: 01509 216 644

It’s a Kinder magic

Kinder Surprise sales are set to soar over spring, claims Ferrero. The brand, which will be supported by TV advertising over the Easter period, delivered £5.9m in sales during spring 2012. “The uplift in sales in spring last year was driven by the impulse channel, so retailers who merchandise at till point and on the fixture can expect to benefit from a similar boost,” the company says.

tel: 01923 690 300

Season for cake

Premier Foods is launching two new Cadbury Easter cakes. Chocolate sponge Cadbury Caramel Cakes are priced at £2.39 and come in packs of six, while Cadbury Lemon Creme Cake Bars (rrp £1) come in packs of five. Darryl Curtis, marketing controller for seasonal cake, says: “Chocolate and lemon are the biggest flavours at Easter so we are confident our new cakes will be a hit.” tel: 01727 815 850

Animal magic

New from Nestlé is the Smarties Spring Animal Gift pack. The set of three foil-wrapped characters comprises a hollow milk chocolate Easter lamb, bunny and chick. On-pack messaging encourages children to shake the figures to hear the Mini Smarties inside. Packs are designed as a top-up gift, or for alternative Easter Egg hunts.

rrp: £1.99

tel: 01904 604 604