Shell eggs might be a distress purchase, but seasonal treats are most definitely an impulse buy. So it is essential to give your Creme Eggs high visibility from December in order to make the most of this incremental sales opportunity.

Easter is the third biggest seasonal event of the year after Christmas and New Year, according to Mondelez International. “Some 69% of shoppers celebrate Easter,” says customer marketing manager Laurie Billson.

But just because the majority of consumers buy into Easter doesn’t mean that they will automatically have Easter on the brain once the tinsel is packed away. “Easter starts on 1 January. It’s dark and leaves are falling, so you have to trigger the Easter mindset,” says Billson.

Hancocks Cash & Carry purchasing director Jonathan Summerley couldn’t agree more. “While Easter eggs themselves might be a last-minute purchase, retailers can benefit from the general feel of the season and the impulsive sales that increasingly occur in the run up to the main event,” he says. “Shoppers will treat themselves and enjoy buying seasonal novelties for children, family and friends.”

Easter uplift

It would be easy to overlook year-round seller the Kinder Surprise Egg this Easter, but it is important to remember that sales increase dramatically during Spring. In fact, it delivers £5.9m sales over spring, and is worth £21.3m annually as the number one children’s single chocolate product.

In February the brand’s new pink and blue eggs will be back for a second burst, with Marvel Heroes toys placed inside blue eggs and Disney Princess toys inside pink eggs.

Every coloured single egg will feature a licensed toy, while each three-pack of Kinder Surprise will contain one licensed toy and two Kinder Surprise toys.

He says that retailers should be looking at their range of small filled eggs as soon as the New Year arrives. “Always stock these products from just before Christmas as shoppers are traditionally on the lookout for them from very early in the year,” he advises.

Displaying them in a prominent position is crucial, he points out. “These small self-eat eggs are an impulsive treat and should be displayed as such the countertop is a prime spot. It is all a question of ensuring great visibility products to maximise their sales during the entire first quarter of the year. Spring treats will make a refreshing choice as they have not been on the shelf for eight months.”

Thorntons agrees that the start of the year is lucrative for impulse treats. Says commercial director Phil Sargison: “Filled Eggs, mini eggs and novelty self-eat were worth £905,000 in convenience in the week ending 5 January, 2013, up 13% year on year. People are buying Easter products earlier, with total Easter sales increasing by 29% up to the week ending 9 February, 2013. And one of the categories driving this is impulse lines, up by 28%.”

Ammo Bhdaal of Spar Auckley in Doncaster believes that it is the retailers’ duty to flag up the start of the season to their customers. “Once it’s in the customer’s psyche that you have the range, then you’re set for the season,” he says. “We have to take the lead from supermarkets here there’s a reason why they get their eggs out early. People expect you to have Creme Eggs and as soon as we have any in stock we’ll put them out. There are opportunities for multiple purchases of the same product if you get them in early. Creme Egg is still our best Easter treat seller - so many customers say ‘First Creme Egg of the Year’.”

He ensures strong visibility by displaying his seasonal impulse products in a high traffic area and encourages buy-in by offering tempting deals. “We have hods near the counter containing small Galaxy Eggs and Creme Eggs. Last year we did a multibuy on filled eggs, which was successful.

“We’ll never compete with supermarkets - they’ll always have the headline deal - but we do the best we can for our customers. Supermarkets tend to focus on shell eggs, so it suits our market better to sell small filled eggs on multibuys. I have a good relationship with my customers, so they’ll joke that they still have Christmas turkey in the fridge and now we’re selling Easter products, but they don’t really mind.”

Barns Green Village Store in West Sussex has a similar response from customers when they spot the Creme Eggs in the store the day after Christmas. “You can’t compete with the supermarkets on the medium-sized shell eggs, but we do stock smaller items early in the season,” says owner David Heritage. “We put Creme Eggs out on Boxing Day. The customers moan, but they always buy them! We have a whole pod of Creme Eggs and we keep Cadbury Mini Eggs on a table by the counter.”

Retailers reap rewards with Creme Egg

Convenience stores now have even more of an incentive to stock Cadbury Creme Eggs as Mondelez International has decided to reward retailers, as well as consumers, as part of its latest Gooless promotion.

For 2014, the initiative has been extended to the entire impulse channel. As with last year, every day one consumer will find a gooless egg, winning them up to £1,000 in prize money. And this time, the owner of the store where the product was found will receive the equivalent amount in Love2Shop or Cadbury stock vouchers.

Says Stephanie Sarantakos, brand manager for Cadbury Creme Egg and Cadbury Mini Eggs at Mondelez International, unit sales were up 44% in 2013, leading to growth of 11% in convenience stores.

“We grew the Creme Egg brand by promoting its limited availability and attracted 800,000 new consumers. There is a longer season this year, so momentum will be key.

“The ‘Have a fling’ campaign resonated well with consumers so we’re bringing it back for this year. Gooless eggs were the first channel exclusive promotion, resulting in 69 winners, from Inverness to St Ives.”

Raj Aggarwal has also witnessed early demand for Creme Eggs at his Londis in Queens Drive, Wigston, Leicestershire. “Londis encourages us to get the Cadbury Creme Eggs and Mini Eggs out in December, and then as soon as Christmas is over you can get the rest of the Easter impulse products out. You’d be surprised at how many people purchase Cadbury Creme Eggs in December.”

Another early bird with Easter impulse is Gary Bilbrough, who manages Nisa Toddington in Bedfordshire. While he concedes that Creme Eggs sell well, it is Mini Eggs that do the business at his neighbourhood store. “Our best-seller is Cadbury Mini Eggs, which we’ll put out from mid-February. We sell 2,500-3,000 bags. We had fantastic hod units right by the tills last year and they flew out.”

He believes that the round pound price point has a lot to do with the success. “Packs are priced £1, which means kids can afford it if they have a pound in their pocket.”

Gary explains that increasing his Easter impulse offering little by little over January and February helps to keep customers interested, while ensuring that he doesn’t end up with too much stock. “I tend to stagger the Easter order as the store measures only 1,200sq ft and my storage area is tiny, so if I get it all in one go no one will be interested in the bulk of it and I’ll have no room to store it.” Gary recently had a new counter installed, which features in-built shelving, so he will use this area to display Mini Eggs next year.

Wealdon Stores in Cuckfield, West Sussex, also staggers the release of its Easter treats. “We get Creme Eggs in after Christmas and then other little items come out in February, such as Cadbury Mini Eggs, Galaxy Eggs and Malteaster Bunnies,” says owner Janine Watts. “We don’t have the space for hods dedicated to Easter products, but we have countertop displays.”

She is a big fan of the Malteaster Bunny as she says it stands out from the standard filled egg offerings. “The Malteaster Bunnies are great - they are really eye-catching.”

Animal magic moulds innovation

Filled eggs aren’t the only Easter treat that you can start selling early. There is also a huge choice of treat-size animal moulds that can be displayed from January.

The star performer within animal-themed treats is undoubtedly Mars’ Malteaster Bunny. It is currently worth £15.5m, having enjoyed a 34% growth since its launch five years ago. The chocolate- covered honeycomb bunny is available in single and sharing formats and is the fastest growing treat, according to Mars.

But it certainly isn’t the only cute character vying for your attention. New for 2014, Thorntons is unveiling a range of Harry Hopalot products, including a 24g treat-size chocolate rabbit and 28g rabbit and lamb lollipops, both retailing at 79p. “Harry Hopalot is to include impulse formats which will significantly increase our presence and sales in the early part of the season,” says Thorntons commercial director Phil Sargison.

Another new bunny product bouncing onto the scene is the Cadbury Caramel Bunny from Mondelez International. Having previously been available in two-bunny portions, the bunny is now available in a single format to meet demand for a lighter bite. Consumer feedback was that the original two-pack portions were viewed as too much of a good thing, whereas the new version is expected to be perceived as more permissible. The single bunny weighs 20g and retails at 40p, or three for £1.

Nestlé’s Milkybar Bunny and Smarties Choc Chick are also set to be strong sellers. The Chick’s value increased 22% on 2012, while Milkybar Bunny, which debuted last year, delivered more than £1.2m in sales. The firm has retired its Aero Lamb in order to focus more on children’s products.

Raj has also seen success with the Malteaster bunny, but is wary of stocking too many themed treats outside of the standard filled egg offering. “You can overdo it - any seasonal event is a calculated risk because you might have a great year and then the following year the market isn’t as good. You have to be careful with the animal moulds because you get such a raft of products that people are spoilt for choice. I look for something new - people always buy into new things. The Cadbury Egg & Spoon mousse went down well last year. They were a little expensive, but we will be ordering more this year.”

Ammo also observes that it is worth stocking novelty items, provided that you don’t get carried away. “All the novelty chocolate moulds sell, but it’s a smaller market,” he says. “Some kids buy them as a chocolate snack, but they’re often bought as top-up presents, rather than treats such as filled eggs.”.

Nevertheless, he still sells a good selection of Easter novelty treats. “Last year we had Nestlé Smarties Choc Chicks, Milkybar Bunnies, and Aero Lambs and Cadbury Caramel Bunnies on multibuy promotions.” He also tried out the Cadbury Egg & Spoon. “We sold out quite early because a lot of people were using them as a family treat and coming back to buy more.”

And while themed treats don’t fly off the shelves quite as quickly as filled eggs, it is worth noting that they tend to be higher value. “Impulse novelties generate a higher average spend from shoppers compared with traditional filled eggs (£2.26 during the season vs £2.14 for filled eggs),” states Nestlé shopper marketing manager Ros Hobson.

So whether you opt for a safe bet filled egg solution, or a full menagerie of Easter animal treats, the message is clear: If you want to make the most of Easter then get your products out early. “Some 43.3% of Easter seasonal impulse sales took place in the early part of the season,” says Hobson. “Convenience retailers should feel confident in stocking up early.”


Hancocks springs into action

Hancocks knows that seasonal treats are a must-stock. The cash & carry is offering an egg-shaped chocolate Easter lolly, which is covered with mini chocolate beans. The product is targeted at children and retails at £1. The firm is also continuing its pattern of launching NPD that mixes chocolate with sugar confectionery with a novel 100g chocolate bar topped with tiny mini egg sweets.

Galaxy goes for an Easter update

Mars has given the Galaxy range a packaging revamp for 2014 with bolder colours and contours that emulate flowing melted chocolate. The Galaxy Chocolate Caramel Filled Egg and Galaxy Bubbles Filled Egg remain key to the brand’s Easter portfolio, following 35% growth last year.

Smaller case sizes for Mini Eggs

Cadbury Mini Eggs were worth more than £25m in 2013 and are now available in smaller cases, making them more suitable for independents with restricted space. “We recommend that retailers stock 77g £1 pricemarked packs of Mini Eggs to help encourage impulse sales,” says trade communications manager Susan Nash. “This year they’re available in 12-unit cases, ideal for new and smaller retailers.”

Bunny business

The 60g Ferrero Rocher bunny is the little sister of last year’s 100g gifting bunny and is targeting the impulse market. “Price is a key driver for consumers in the current market and this offers a great value treat at rrp £1.99,” says customer development director Levi Boorer.