How to build ‘big night in’ baskets to increase sales

A great big night range increases basket spend while offering shoppers value. Joseph Lee looks at four types of displays that you can introduce.

A great big night range increases basket spend while offering shoppers value. Joseph Lee looks at four types of displays you can introduce.

Snacks and soft drinks
The big night in is all about having a treat on a budget. Half of shoppers are eating out less and 47% are spending less on eating out. 

“Consumers are more conscious of their spending,” says Dan Newell, confections marketing manager at Wrigley. “The popularity of confectionery sharing bags continues as consumers keep a tight hold on their purse strings.” For drinks and snacks, impulse appeal is crucial as 75% of purchasing decisions are made at the fixture.

It’s important to use PoS such as dump bins and counter units. “These are guaranteed to raise awareness and generate impulse sales,” says Lauren George, brand & trade PR manager for Mars Chocolate and Wrigley.

You should merchandise sharing bags of popular confectionery brands next to savoury snacks and drinks to encourage bigger basket spends and help shoppers grab everything they need for a night in front of the TV.

Adrian Troy, marketing director at Barr Soft Drinks says retailers should stock up with large sharing sizes of soft drinks, a key product for footfall, customer loyalty and promoting value.

“Retailers should ensure they stock sharing size bottles of trusted soft drinks brands to drive purchases and restock regularly as availability is key,” he says.

As concerns over sugar grow, retailers should ensure they stock a range of low- and zero-sugar varieties to cater for all tastes.

Alcohol pairing and food
At Nisa Local in Heathfield, Nottingham, Kully and Sandy Sandhu build their big night in displays around cross-merchandising to increase basket spend and encourage impulse purchases.

Matching up meal deals with the right alcoholic drink has been key to their success. “In the past we’ve put bottles of Sol near Mexican meal deals,” says Sandy Sandhu. “We find that they sell well from there. It’s almost a subconscious thing. And it works particularly well in summer.”

Among the bestselling ready meals are Indian dishes such as kormas and jalfrezi. Sandhu says they encourage customers to pair those with boldly-flavoured Chilean wines that can hold their own against spicy dishes.

Social get-togethers lend themselves to pairing drinks and snacks. Seventy-one per cent of drinks purchases are made with snacks, a finding PepsiCo has used to its advantage with Walkers Max Strong, a new range targeted at beer lovers looking for crisps to match.

“Tortilla chips and dips are popular as they allow people to share and connect easily,” says Pierre Jackson, category insights controller at PepsiCo.

If you want to trade shoppers up, consider matching premium snacks, such as Kettle or Walker’s Sensations, with a quality wine.

Frozen meals
How can you offer better value meals for a big night in without compromising quality? Increasingly retailers are finding that a growing frozen food sector may hold the answer.

Frozen food sales are on the up, with the sector worth more than £6bn in sales after a 6.1% increase last year. Savoury food sales increased the most, with an 8.8% rise in value, followed by ice cream at 8.5%.

“The growth is in part due to the continuing quality improvements of frozen food and a growing awareness by consumers that frozen can be as good as, or better quality than, fresh and is often superior value,” says John Hyman, chief executive of the British Frozen Food Federation.

For retailers, it offers the advantage of longer shelf life, so it’s easier to offer customers more choice without wasting food.

Gourmade is one of the many manufacturers aiming to take advantage of an increasingly premium market, offering sophisticated takes on classics such as fish pie or lasagne.

“We’re reimagining the frozen aisle by adding value, quality and a point of difference to a static category,” says Joanna Devenish, Gourmade co-founder. 

“Consumers are realising the virtues of frozen foods as a fresh, nutritious and convenient meal.” 

Freezers can often be left at the back of a store and forgotten about. The key to success in the category is to make sure that they are well-lit and maintained, and merchandised attractively, with clear prices and offers on show. 

If you can pull together frozen ready meals, sides and desserts to create an easy-to-understand offer, and promote it with posters throughout your shop, you will grow sales.

Chilled snacks and evening meals
When shoppers are heading home after a hard day’s work, they want the decision over dinner to be as easy as possible.

Ease and convenience is the guiding principle behind Sandhu’s approach to meal deals. He pairs food in the chillers with baskets holding all the ingredients and side dishes needed to make a complete meal.

So meat for tacos or fajitas is paired with Old El Paso kits, providing the tortillas, spice mixes and salsas in one pack. Similarly, Indian foods have naan breads by the chiller.

Even without offering a discounted deal, stocking foods together can boost sales. “We are always looking to stock meal ingredients together,” says Sandhu.

“Consumers want to spend minimal time preparing food when it comes to a big night in. People are looking for food and drink that can be served quickly and conveniently,” says Angela Daulby, group sales director of Kepak Convenience Foods.

These shoppers are a lucrative group of customers. They have a bigger basket size than the average convenience store shopper, with 3.3 items compared to 2.6, and the average value of their basket is 5.7% higher at £6.64.

Daulby says retailers should create a big night in display in the chiller and use PoS to attract shoppers. Bringing together snacks, meals, side dishes, desserts and drinks retailers can boost basket size, spend and profits.

“By offering complementary snacks and drinks as part of a meal deal, you’re guaranteed to increase sales,” adds Angela.

To begin creating meal deals, check out the local competition and speak to your customers to find out where the demand is.

It’s also a great idea to promote your meal deals on social media during the afternoon. That way, office workers starting to get hungry will have your store in mind as soon as they head for home.


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