By the time November comes around, your customers should have already bought a few Christmas bits, and will be on the lookout for larger products. November is when boxed chocolate really starts taking off, with 24% of the category’s annual sales taking place, followed by a whopping 45% in December, explains Ferrero. “This is when retailers should be building up for stronger promotions and visibility in-store,” says Ferrero sales director Jason Sutherland.

Formerly the ambassador’s treat of choice, these days Ferrero Rocher is marketing itself towards less formal gifting occasions to ensure it appeals to a broader audience. The T16 box (rrp £4.19) is a familiar sight in many c-stores, but there’s all the more reason to stock up come November when the new Rocher adverts are due to air. It may also be worth your while buying some Ferrero Collection boxes given that they are set to appear in their first standalone TV ads in December. “With our new campaign, we’ll be making Ferrero more informal and accessible,” says customer development director for Ferrero, Levi Boorer. Following the growth of in-home entertaining, the adverts will be honing in on the rather less pretentious sharing occasion with family and friends. 

retailer’s view Gurmail Singh Dhesi

“Last year we started selling Snow Bites and Galaxy Mistletoe Kisses in September and they did well. We didn’t stock Cadbury Wishes bags at all last year, but customers did ask about them, so I’ll make sure I get some in this year. 

“We’ll put Ferrero Rocher on promotion and we’ll sell tins of Quality Street for £5. Sometimes the mults offer them at £4 a tin, but we only buy them for £4.50, so we can’t compete with that. 

“We like to make the shop feel really festive at Christmas so we put fairy lights up around the door and till areas, and we have snow spray on the windows. Sales of Christmas confectionery were good last year, but we’ve just completed a £120,000 refit, so I’m hoping they’ll be even better this year.” 
Gurmail Singh Dhesi, Costcutter, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

Elizabeth Shaw is also changing tack in a bid to capture a wider audience. Butterscotch, caramel, honeycomb and intense cocoa variants have been added to the Crisp chocolate medallion portfolio, which previously focused largely on mint. Products will be available in 250g cartons with an rrp of £3.99. A Butterscotch Crisp 175g presentation box (rrp £3.69) also joins in time for the Christmas period. “This moves us beyond the traditional after-dinner category into more everyday sharing and all-year gifting occasions,” says the company’s Jo Kilinder-Smith.

Mars has been working hard to create innovative sharing npd, too. “Some 26% of chocolate is eaten with others at Christmas time more than at any other time of the year,” says Mars’ Dhaliwal. A key launch for the company is Galaxy Promises (rrp £2.79), in Milk Caramel and Milk Truffle varieties. Targeted at couples, packs contain 18 individual pieces of chocolate, with messages hidden inside.

It’s not just Mars chocolate that is going down the secret messages route, though. Kraft is launching a Cadbury Wishes gift carton containing 14 chocolate stars, each engraved with different messages. The company pledges to donate 10% of Wishes’ sales to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The launch will be supported with a £1m marketing campaign including digital and print advertising.

Werther’s Original is entering the sharing market with its Finest Selection, which includes an assortment of Werther’s products. “This showcases some of the best products from our newly launched chocolate range and also includes some of the Werther’s chocolate range not currently available in the UK so it is unique for us,” says Storck UK sales director Andy Mutton.

Meanwhile, Nestlé has a sackful of on-pack promotions planned to get consumers spending. Matchmakers will be linking up with Zavvi and to launch an on-pack promotion where consumers can win up to £350-worth of prizes.

It will also be tempting consumers to buy into the After Eights brand by offering them the chance to win £88,888 by finding a golden envelope in-pack.

And festive favourite Quality Street is celebrating its 75th birthday via an on-pack promotion that offers consumers the chance to win presents, including Apple products and games consoles.

Another brand celebrating its 75th year is Mars’ Maltesers, which is marking the occasion with a special-edition box. A ‘75 years of lightness’ media campaign will support this. Meanwhile, Maltesers White will be getting festive with winter-themed large pouches.

M&M’s Green & Red will also be available in a seasonal large pouch. Supported by £7.2m in consumer communications, the M&Ms brand will be backed by seasonal-specific TV advertising from November 14.

Confectionery favourite Terry’s Chocolate Orange is receiving a winter packaging makeover courtesy of manufacturer Kraft, and watch out for a new Honeycomb Crunch variant.

And if you want to offer an alternative to the big brands, then Hancocks is bringing its own brand of festive fun to the table with its Wobbling Tins range. Comprising Santa, Snowman, and Robin designs, all tins have an rrp of £3.99 and 40% margin.

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