Those old enough to remember Opportunity Knocks will know that Saturday and Sunday nights have always been about someone desperately grinning into the camera in a bid to gain viewer votes. The only difference today seems to be how much these shows leak into spin-off shows, media and formats. At the moment, ITV1’s The X Factor runs for three-and-a-half hours across two nights every week and has a heavy web presence, plus a seemingly endless supply of judge bickering to fill the tabloid front pages.


That’s the combined viewing figures for weekend shows of Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor, October 10-18 2011, according to BARB

It’s no different on the other side, either, where BBC’s Saturday night Strictly Come Dancing spills over daily onto BBC2 with the Strictly - It takes 2 just in case we can’t wait for the next dose of dance.

While this may not be fantastic news for those who aren’t fans, it’s great for c-stores as the general population looks for snacks to accompany the hours of TV viewing. But retailers need to be canny about how and when they service the customers who watch these kind of shows.

For Paul Cheema, of Malcolm’s Stores in Coventry, this means if you can’t beat them, join them. The store boasts a 42in screen which is switched to The X Factor when it’s on in a bid to keep customers in the store for as long as possible.

“A couple of years ago we realised there was a decline in the number of customers when The X Factor was on,” Paul explains, “especially as it got closer to the final. We realised if we switched the programme on in the shop people would realise they weren’t going to miss anything. We’re not trying to get them to watch the whole thing here, but they’re not going to dash off either and they won’t be put off coming.”

Interestingly, he says that the two nights the programme is on attract a slightly different crowd, with slightly different needs. “On Saturday night it’s beers and crisps, then they go over to a friend’s house to watch it. On Sunday it’s family time and there are lots of confectionery sales and frozen gateaux - it’s about treating.”

Keep your cool

No TV night in is complete without a big tub of ice cream to pretend to share with the family. Unilever trade category and marketing executive ice cream (in home) Holly Ashton says retailers shouldn’t forget the dessert offering in their big night in displays. “As consumers opt to stay in rather than go out, tub formats are proving increasingly popular, driving growth in the luxury dessert subcategory,” she says.

“Treat size products such as My Carte D’Or or Magnum Mini are proving popular, offering consumers a variety of flavours in a single-serve format.”

Magnum has recently announced its move into the luxury tub sector for the first time with a range of 450ml tubs called Magnum Luxury. The tubs are available in chocolate and vanilla flavours with an rrp of £3.99.

Tubs aren’t the only popular at home treat in the ice cream category and Mars has recently released its take-home four- packs with a £1.50 price flash on packs in a bid to target exactly this type of shopper.

“We know that three in 10 ice cream purchases are made outside the summer months so we encourage independent retailers to keep a freezer well stocked with ice cream throughout the year,” says Mars Baked and Ice cream general manager Tony Lorman.

Paul says the key to catering to both crowds is taking care of the details: “You need 100% availability and we make sure that all the checkouts are manned. Then it’s about cross-category selling, but you need to get it right. It’s no good siting the Maltesers with beer - it won’t sell. You want confectionery with wine and crisps with beers. You need to target each group.”

Dennis Williams of Broadway Stores, Edinburgh, agrees that these type of shows offer c-stores an enormous opportunity: “For 20-odd million people to be watching two programmes over three hours on a Saturday night is pretty incredible. It’s a no-brainer to target them.”

The store has a four-metre bay dedicated to Big Night In which, says Dennis, is well worth the space. “Space is at a premium for all retailers, but this is a must at the end of the day. All the research is pointing to the fact that money is tight and people are staying in more. That means there is more money there for us. It’s a fantastic opportunity.”

However, he points out that more help from suppliers wouldn’t go amiss. “Some of the suppliers could be supplying more theatre - they’re missing a massive opportunity.”

Some have realised the opportunity that these type of mass-interest shows afford, however. Pepsico and Britvic have put a cross-branding promotion with Pepsi Max and Walkers Extra Crunchy at the heart of their partnership with The X Factor Live Final. Cross-merchandised POS for retailers is available to highlight the partnership, and an on-pack promotion gives consumers the chance to win tickets to the show’s final in Manchester every hour for eight weeks. Last year’s live final held at Wembley Arena was the most watched TV show of the year.

The linking of the two brands is a smart move, with research showing that crisps and snacks are consumed with soft drinks 57% of the time. However, they are only bought together 13% of the time, which means there is a major potential for manufacturers and retailers (source: Pepsico/Kantar Worldpanel).

Says Pepsico wholesale director Kieran South: “Cross-merchandising yields substantial rewards for retailers and manufacturers alike, growing the category and increasing basket spend by offering consumers convenience and value for money.”

The company previously linked Pepsi Max and Doritos in a Fire and Ice promotion last October, which led to link-purchasing of the brands doubling during the four-week promotion and, says South, led to the Pepsi brand achieving its highest market share in more than three years (source: Nielsen Scantrack).

Britvic soft drinks marketing director Jonathan Gatward says that it has strong expectations for the current pairing: “This is the third time Britvic and Pepsico have paired up and we have established a strong track record of success in cross-promotions.”

He says to replicate the success of previous years retailers need to use the bespoke merchandising units as well as creating secondary displays in high footfall areas. The promotion is available across 150g bags and pricemarked packs of Walkers Extra Crunchy and 2ltr, 600ml and 500ml bottles and 8x330ml cans of Pepsi Max, Pepsi and Diet Pepsi.

In November, Walkers Extra Crunchy will be back on TV until mid-December with a repeat of last year’s ad campaign featuring Lionel Richie and Gary Lineker.

Game on

Not every night in front of the box involves TV or DVD. When it comes to square-eyed customers with a major snacking habit, you could do worse than look at the gamers. According to research released in 2011 by the IAB Games Steering Group in partnership with Kantar Media, more than 27.6 million adults play games, or 77% of people over the age of 25. And if you think all that video gaming was confined to men, think again. The split is pretty even at 49% women vs 51% male.

The nature of gaming these days means that a gaming night might mean a night in with mates at home or even other players around the globe (81% of games console players play socially with friends or family). Snacking while gaming is pretty normal so it’s not really that surprising that food manufacturers have tapped into this huge demographic with promotions.

Softly does it

According to Shloer head of marketing Amanda Grabham, the importance of soft drinks as part of the big night in occasion shouldn’t be underestimated. “Consumer research delivers a clear message to convenience retailers about the potential opportunity to grow their business through targeting night-in occasions and the significant role which soft drinks - and premium soft drinks in particular - play in these social occasions.”

Current activity for Shloer includes pricemarked packs on Shloer red grape, white grape and rosé variants. Outers carry the message ‘Buy £6.29. Sell £1.69. POR 25.6%’ with a removable price sticker.

Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd (CCE) manager external communications Dave Turner agrees that occasions such as TV nights provide opportunities to boost their soft drink sales.

“As consumers continue to enjoy informal gatherings of friends and family, this is great news for retailers who stock sharing essentials such as savoury snacks, soft drinks, sweets and alcohol. When entertaining, shoppers look to invest in brands they trust, with the key soft drinks sharing sectors being cola, lemonade, mixers and adult special.”

The company has recently extended its range of pricemarked packs. According to Turner: “Of all categories, soft drinks is where retailers want PMPs available, to stock in chillers and on shelf, as they clearly drive purchase.”

Mountain Dew Energy has introduced limited-edition Game Fuel and is running a promotion with game Halo 4, which launches in November this year. The promotion gives consumers the chance to win one of four all-expenses-paid, behind-the-scenes trips for two to meet the Halo 4 developers in Seattle, USA. In addition, 40 consumers have the opportunity to win copies of Halo 4 each day, with a further 200 winning Spartan costumes for their Xbox 360 Avatar. The give-away runs across 500ml and 1ltr packs of Mountain Dew Energy and Game Fuel, and targets 15- to 24-year-olds.

Last year, Kepak brand Rustlers also realised the potential of the enormous gaming community with an on-pack promotion tied into the release of the games Deus Ex and Batman Arkham City. This year it has teamed up with the Hitman series to give consumers the chance to win a holiday in Las Vegas. The on-pack promotion ties in with the release of the fifth in the Hitman series, Hitman: Absolution, set for release next month. Special packs of Rustlers featuring the promotion will be available from the end of this month.

WKD marketing director Debs Carter says that gaming is another example of how varied nights in have become. “At home, guys get the chance to focus on the things that are dear to them viewing the latest DVD releases, gaming, gadgets, new technology, music and watching sport together on TV. Some 49% of WKD consumers meet up at least once a week with friends for a night in, with Fridays - as the launch pad for the weekend - being the most popular day for such events.”

Carter says that the coming months are particularly important for the trend. “With people monitoring their leisure spending in the run up to Christmas, at home socialising could take on even greater prominence this autumn.”

The brand is targeting these kind of nights with a £4.99 pricemarked 4x275ml packs for the convenience market. The packs of WKD Blue, Iron Brew and Purple carry a ‘Only £4.99 Result!’ logo.

Carter says that these types of packs drive purchase on at-home occasions: “There is strong evidence that pricemarked packs help drive impulse purchases and we know that 58% of WKD 275ml four-pack purchase occasions are for entertaining at home.”

She says that it’s the unplanned big nights in where c-stores can really reap rewards, by making sure they have a chilled offering ready to go. “Being known as the outlet in the local community that delivers on this will set retailers apart from the competition. We know that 80% of WKD consumers prefer to buy chilled. Industry research shows that chilled availability increases sales of RTDs by at least 10%.”

Merrydown head of brand marketing Amanda Grabham says that for all alcohol chilled is the key to this market. “Making a purchase from the alcohol fixture and/or the chiller will be on the agenda for most people shopping for a night in. Given the growth rates we have seen in bottled cider over the past couple of years, along with research showing that cider drinkers spend an average £21 a month on purchasing alcohol to drink at home, establishing a cider range including brands particularly suited to the night in occasion will pay dividends.”

Over the past 12 months, glass bottled cider sales in the impulse sector have grown by more than a quarter and now generate £67m-worth of annual sales through impulse sales (Nielsen Scantrack). Some 60% is consumed by the over-35 age group, with two-thirds of drinkers aged over 35 drinking mostly at home or at a friend’s house.

Grabham says: “The cider range aimed at night-in purchase needs to include brands which appeal to the over 25s who will be looking for quality cues such as the taste profile of the product and the story behind the brand - a role which is fulfilled by heritage ciders such as Merrydown, Westons, Thatchers and Aspall.”

For the spirits industry this type of occasion is no less important, according to Bacardi Brown-Forman trade marketing manager Crispin Stephens: “All the data is saying that younger consumers are spending less, so we have to make Jack Daniel’s available to these consumers in an affordable way. There hasn’t been enough creativity in spirits from this point of view.”

The brand recently introduced a 35cl pack with free tumbler (rrp £12.99 rrp) with 45,000 units going into managed convenience. “It’s these kind of packs that offer a real opportunity in convenience,” says Stephens. “The beauty of Jack and Coke is that it’s simple to make at home.”

Also new from the brand is Tennessee Honey. The new variant is being backed by an integrated campaign in cinemas and outdoor, which will include TV advertising in December.

ones to watch…

On the side

Spar has given its evening meal and meal accompaniment range a revamp with the popularity of big night in occasion in mind. The range includes three new selection packs to suit all appetites with Indian, Chinese and Tex Mex accompaniments. Products include vegetable samosas, vegetable spring rolls and onion bhajis.

rrp: £2.50

tel: 020 8426 3700

Winter spice

Molson Coors is hoping to spice up sales with the launch of Carling Zest. The lager contains a hint of spiced orange and its creation follows the success of the summer Citrus flavoured edition. The launch is being supported with a £2m ad campaign from next month. Carling Zest is available in four and 12x330ml bottle packs.

rrp: 4-pack, £3.99 12-pack, £11

tel: 0845 6000 888

Birthday treat

Nestlé is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a redesigned 300g pack. The pack now features exploding firework imagery and the slogan ‘Celebrating 50 years’ to highlight its anniversary. It has an rrp of £3.32. The brand has also reintroduced its Collection Box featuring a selection of dark and white mint chocolates in a 142g box with an rrp of £3.99.

tel: 01904 604 604

Pump it up

Shloer Berry Pump limited edition has been reintroduced after its success last year when it attracted 300,000 new customers to the Schloer brand. The limited-edition variant is available now until March 2013 and will be backed by PR, digital campaign and competitions. The drink is available in a 75cl glass bottle.

rrp: £2.29 for six

tel: 01242 570 288