A delivery driver told a convenience retailer once that he knew Christmas must be coming because he was delivering Creme Eggs into stores. This real-life observation just goes to illustrate the topsy-turvy nature of seasonal confectionery for retailers, when Christmas starts in summer and Easter in December.
Mondelez International always includes the same message in any promotional literature for Easter and that is that Creme Egg is the biggest selling countline between January and Easter. But Vincent Bohannon from Handcross Post Office and Stores in West Sussex reckons Mondelez’s claims about Cadbury Creme Eggs could be an understatement. “For us they are a best-seller between December and Easter. We get them in December and put them out straight away and people start buying them.
Gooless is back
Mondelēz International says its Creme Egg Gooless promotion last Easter helped drive 42% growth in value sales for the brand (Nielsen) so it should come as no surprise that it’s back for 2015.
Running from January 1 to Easter Sunday (April 5), one winner every day will unwrap a gooless egg and win up to £1,000. But consumers will not be the only winners - Mondelez will match the prize for the retailers who sell the winners their eggs, in either stock vouchers or Love To Shop vouchers.
The activity will be supported with marketing investment and POS material. In addition, Creme Egg will be backed by TV, digital, PR, in-store and outdoor activity.
Mondelez International trade communications manager Susan Nash says: “The success of our Gooless promotion in 2014 shows that independent retailers have a big opportunity to leverage it to maximise Creme Egg sales in 2015. Retailers should take advantage of standout POS material to drive impulse purchases.
“It’s also important to make the most of Easter marketing investment, stocking up when awareness will be high.
“Cadbury Creme Egg will be on TV from 1 January, creating a great opportunity for retailers to drive sales right up until Easter Sunday.”
“Yes, some people moan about it not being Christmas yet, but they still buy them. I’d say we probably sell a dozen cases before Christmas - it’s absolutely amazing how popular these things are. Personally, I can’t stand them.”
In fact, so popular are Creme Eggs that, according to Nielsen data, they made up 29% of the value of traditional Easter sales in symbols and independents in 2014. In total the brand grew by 20% - across singles and multipacks - taking its value to £50m.
Incredibly, the Local 4 U store in Matlock can beat Vincent’s December sales of Creme Eggs as they have them on sale in November. Wendy Spencer says: “We had the Cadbury rep in here in mid-November and we said we’d take 20 boxes of Creme Eggs - and we put them out as soon as we got them. People will buy them as soon as they spot them because they’ve not seen them since last April. They’re a massive seller.”
Alan Waterson from J Walsh in High Wycombe has a rule that he doesn’t put Creme Eggs out until January, but he may well break that rule for the first time this year.
“It just doesn’t seem right to me to have Creme Eggs out while you’ve still got Christmas products in the shop, but I’m having my arm twisted this year,” he says. “One of my members of staff has been talking to the Cadbury rep and she’s really pushing hard to get them into the shop in December - and if they’ve been delivered we might as well put them out. But, unbelievably, they sell as soon as they’re out on display.”
Interestingly, Alan reckons they’re quite an expensive line to stock. “There’s a lot of competition out there, especially from the pound shops, but I don’t like to go in for the ‘three for £1’ type of deal; I prefer to sell them at a sensible pocket-money price.” Last Easter that was 50p, which was below the rrp, and Alan hopes to repeat that price again, even though the 2015 rrp for them is 58p.
Phil Griffiths, who manages four Spar stores in north Wales, says Blakemore delivers his Creme Eggs between Christmas and New Year and they go out on shelf straight away and start selling. “They’re a great impulse purchase - people see them and buy them, particularly as they are not available all year round.”
But not every retailer has the same story to tell. Sue Mock, who owns Londis Broadhaven in Pembrokeshire, says: “We put the Creme Eggs out as soon as we get them in January. But over the past few years we have noticed that sales are declining year on year so we have cut back our order. They trickle out from a small bin on the counter. They are a pain and it is the packaging that is the worst. They rarely scan properly and if they become even slightly unwrapped in the dump bin then customers won’t buy them.”
But scanning isn’t much of an issue for Vincent, who says: “If they won’t scan we can put them through as sweets, or we can have a bar code cut out at the till for staff to scan.”
And Phil says he and most of his staff actually know the Creme Egg bar code off by heart. “That might sound sad, but it’s true; we sell so many that we all know the bar code.” Wendy knows the bar code off by heart, too, and has it written down for any staff who don’t know it.
Obviously, other filled eggs are available, but it would seem that Mondelez has the market pretty much sewn up with Creme Egg.
When it comes to novelty, suppliers are always keen to outdo each other, but they’ll have to go some to beat Unilever and Kinnerton’s latest collaborations.
Their 2015 venture sees the Marmite and Pot Noodle brands turned into Easter eggs, with the Marmite Easter egg combining Marmite with chocolate.
Marmite is a shell egg, rrp £5, and packed in cases of four, while Pot Noodle is a mug and egg, again with an rrp of £5, but in cases of six.
Julie McCleave, head of licensing at Unilever UK, comments: “Building on the success of our first-ever Easter egg launch last year with iconic ice cream brands Magnum, Cornetto and Mini Milk, we wanted to bring something new to the Easter egg market once again for 2015.
“By broadening the appeal of the Easter egg fixture we anticipate that the new additions will drive sales for retailers by offering an exciting new product from brands that consumers love.”
Rachel Wyatt, marketing director at Kinnerton Confectionery, adds: “Easter isn’t just for kids. We want to bring fun to Easter fixtures by using these two iconic brands. The Marmite Easter egg, which shoppers will either love or hate, combines Marmite with chocolate, while Pot Noodle mug and egg is available with a cool mug for all those Pot Noodlers.”
Alan says he likes to stick to the Creme Eggs and also the Cadbury Caramel ones, as he’s rather partial to those himself.
Wendy adds: “We do stock other filled eggs when they are on promotion, but they don’t sell as fast as Creme Eggs. We’ll also stock the Malteaster bunnies, but again they don’t sell as well as Creme Eggs. We like to have a bit of everything to give our customers a choice, but most prefer Creme Eggs.”
However, Mars reports constant year-on-year growth for its Malteaster bunnies since the product’s launch seven years ago. The range comprises: the single bunny, rrp 62p; mini bunnies bag, rrp £1.29; five-bar pack multipack, rrp £2.39; and a new gifting pack, rrp £4.99.
The gifting pack has nine Malteaster bunnies in a camper van format, containing two standard size bunnies and seven minis. The product will be back on TV in 2015, via a £1.3m TV spend and a new strapline ‘Catch them while you can!’.
Back in Pembrokeshire, Sue says that because of declining sales she doesn’t bother with any other filled eggs. She’s tried chocolate bunnies, but they’ve not sold well, either.
“It seems to me that customers are becoming savvier about buying chocolate and they know that they get better value for money from a bar of chocolate.”
That said, Sue points out that during the summer months she sells novelties such as chocolate dragons and lambs because of the Welsh connection. “They sell well as gifts, but I think the consumer is bombarded with different chocolate items at Easter as there is too much out there now.”
If he can get them at the right price Alan will stock Lindt bunnies, but he says they are only popular if that all-important price is right. “You can get caught out with the novelties,” he says. “The profit’s always in the last couple you’ve got to sell and if you don’t sell those, you lose out.”
But one product Alan would like to see more of is Cadbury Mini Eggs: “Last Easter we couldn’t get enough of them. If you can get your hands on pricemarked packs, they fly out.”
Mondelez International trade communications manager Susan Nash says that selling seasonal products is a great way to drive excitement in store and generate incremental confectionery sales. “With our Seasons Made Simple initiative, we recommend a tight self-eat range, and retailers can boost this even further with branded POS to highlight key products to customers and make them easy to buy.”
She urges retailers to stock up early with treat products to ensure that they get off to a fast start in 2015’s shorter Easter season when Easter Sunday falls on April 5 compared with 2014’s April 20.
Acting on impulse
Impulse buys are key to Easter success as shoppers treat themselves alongside buying for others. So a new clip-strip of 24 Malteaster mini bunnies bags to help retailers display the chocolates off shelf and in several areas of the store should be a hit.
Freddo Sprinkles launched by CDM
New for 2015 is Cadbury Dairy Milk Freddo Sprinkles - the fun chocolate frog gets bunny ears and contains sugar sprinkles. Freddo Sprinkles (18g) is available in a 25p (rrp) pricemarked pack as well as in non pricemarked packs.
Multi-packs of Galaxy caramel available
Galaxy caramel egg will be available in a new three-pack, rrp £1.60. According to Nielsen data, sales of Galaxy Bubble and caramel filled eggs saw an increase of 11.7% last Easter. Both eggs retail at 44p.
Bassetts unveil Jelly Bunnies
New Bassetts Jelly Bunnies are an Easter version of Jelly Babies and comprise strawberry, lemon, raspberry, lime, blackcurrant and orange flavoured bunny shapes. The product comes in a 190g sharing bag (rrp £1.52), in an Easter themed outer of 12.
Growth of Cadbury mini eggs
The Cadbury mini wrapped eggs range is now worth £6.8m (Nielsen). Mondelez reports growing sales across both the core range of Cadbury Creme Egg and Cadbury Dairy Milk Caramel, and across last year’s NPD - Cadbury Dairy Milk Daim.