By rights, the arrival of the first counter-top Cadbury Creme Egg containers in January each year should be greeted with the same kind of weary sigh as tinsel in September.
But it’s a testament to the popularity of the brand and to some clever marketing that consumers are more than happy to crack open its signature red and yellow foil packaging, despite the fact Easter is still in the distant future.
Cadbury head of customer relations Mike Tipping puts the brand’s popularity down to its seasonal nature.
He says that restricting distribution to a few months a year leaves consumers wanting more: “It was very well described to me as the confectionery strawberry, in the sense that you really look forward to strawberries in the summer but it’s a very short season.”
While year-round distribution could damage the brand by dissipating its appeal over 52 weeks, Tipping doesn’t dismiss the chance that the brand will one day be available for longer.
Tipping says that Cadbury Creme Egg has a 78% share of the filled egg market and, with a predicted £29m retail sales value this year, will exceed all other brands of filled eggs five times over. Investment in 2006 will run to £4m. This includes investment in wrapping technology which Cadbury hopes will put paid to leftover stock due to eggs not being properly covered in foil.
The company has also improved the texture of the filling by using finer sugar for a smoother feel.
Marketing is under way and includes multimedia activity including TV to engage the target audiences of mums with kids or 14- to 24-year-old impulse shoppers.
Tipping says that this year’s long Easter season, with an extra three weeks selling time compared to 2005, will provide good profits for retailers and the brand.
Early indications from Cadbury are that there has been a big pick up on Creme Eggs and Tipping expects to see a 10-12% increase on last year’s sales.
B Patel, Chirag Newsagent & Groceries, Crawley, West Sussex
“The Creme Egg sells so well each year, I don’t know why they don’t produce it year-round. I have a box on the counter and on the shelf, and the dump bin does help if I have the room. I might give the ‘3 for 99p’ offer a go at the end of the season. Stock goes quickly from now until Easter and then slows.”
Steve Taylor, The Moorings Newsagent, Horley, Surrey
“People expect them after Christmas. I do the ‘3 for 99p’ from the moment I get them in. They sell themselves. This year the packaging looks better so there should be fewer that I have to swap.”
Vicky Johal, Balcombe Road Post Office, Horley, Surrey
“I put them out immediately after Christmas and probably sell a box a day. I find people ask before I put them out, although some people get a bit fed up with them being out so early.“