Confectionery was worth £824m over the Christmas period last year. As shoppers start stocking up on treats and gifts for this year, Joseph Lee spoke to industry experts to find out their top tips for making festive displays work for you.
At the counter
Sales at the checkout make up 11% of total confectionery purchases over the Christmas period and, with three treats bought every second at Christmas, it can be profitable to have a selection of impulse treats on or around
Typically, customers are drawn to impulse products that help get them in the mood for the season, so manufacturers recommend starting the countdown to Christmas at the counter with seasonal single-serve confectionery.
“Shoppers are looking to buy a festive treat for themselves and family to build excitement at the start and throughout the season,” says Declan Duggan, senior brand manager for Christmas & Halloween at Mondelez International.
“Impulse products are the biggest opportunity in the convenience channel. These products help to signpost the Christmas season and provide a great opportunity to start sales off early by driving excitement.”
The company says highlighting value by stocking products under £1 helps to drive impulse buys among shoppers who are trying to manage their holiday spending.
Chocolate for sharing is the number one food and drink mission that shoppers say they are willing to spend money on at Christmas.
To take advantage of this manufacturers say that the run-up to Christmas is the time to introduce more premium products into your display.
“Chocolate is intrinsic to Christmas – a time when shoppers are willing to spend that little bit more,” says Bep Dhaliwal, trade communications manager for Mars Chocolate.
One sign of this is the popularity of giant chocolate bars. Fifty-six per cent of the sales driven by the 1kg Galaxy Giant Bar last year were incremental to the category. “Large novelty gifts really deliver the wow factor,” says Dhaliwal.
Paul Siviter, sales & marketing director at Hancocks, says the main sharing display is an opportunity for independent retailers to differentiate themselves from the supermarkets. “With convenience stores making headway when it comes to the huge challenge of supermarkets, it is vital that retailers stock a variety of brands to create a different offering,” he says.
He also highlights the opportunity retailers have to increase basket spend. “Christmas confectionery spans a number of categories so it is important not to forget to cross-merchandise,” he adds.
Displaying products from different categories together can also offer inspiration to a customer that will generate more revenue for your store.
“That could mean creating Christmas-themed big night in promotions, with a confectionery pouch and a drink at a discounted price,” says Wrigley’s customer excellence director
It’s the season for giving, so creating a display to show off the best festive gift boxes is a great way to drive sales.
“As the second biggest occasion in chocolate, Christmas is also a huge gifting occasion for adults,” says Mondelez’s Declan Duggan. It’s growing too – sales of the company’s classic Cadbury Milk Tray box rose by 13% in 2015, while Ferrero boxes such as Ferrero Rocher and Thorntons received a similar sales boost last year.
Bep Dhaliwal at Mars says it’s important to remember all the gift occasions, from large to small. “Tubes are a must-have stocking filler and a huge part of the Christmas confectionery category, making up 15% of total Christmas gift sales last year,” she says.
She adds that the growth in selection boxes is being driven by customers trading up to the larger options, so retailers can maximise their sales if they stock these.
“Promotions on boxed chocolates earlier in the season can help kickstart the season. However, it is important to capitalise on sales opportunities in the final week before Christmas. Promotions should be held at this point to drive value sales,” Dhaliwal says.
Gift displays are often the last element of the Christmas line-up to be introduced by retailers. But according to suppliers such as Andy Mutton, sales director of Bendicks owner Storck, sales of boxed chocolates are increasingly taking place earlier in the season.
“Bendicks purchasing is getting earlier each year, with sales starting to rise as early as August. It demonstrates the need for retailers to stock up now to avoid missing out on key sales,” he says.
“Throughout the festive season, confectionery is a go-to segment. It is a stocking filler, a last-minute addition, or the dreamy nostalgic and finishing touch to your grandparents’ surprise Christmas treat,” says Paul Siviter at Hancocks.
But maximising these sales means getting displays and promotions right. For those that do, the rewards can be great.
With so much competition, it’s hard to stand out at Christmas, but window displays can be a perfect way to get creative and draw in passing trade.
“Festive trends are recurrent, so retailers must find a way to differentiate from competitors to stand out from the crowd. This can be done by creative merchandising through Christmas displays or other strategies that ensure consumers have a memorable visit,” says Paul Siviter at Hancocks.
He says that retailers should make the most of PoS material from big confectionery brands such as Nestlé, Cadbury and Mars to build on the interest generated by national TV advertising.
Mondelez International says that retailers that followed its seasonal advice last year saw purchases increase by up to 21%.
Dean Holborn of Holborn’s in Surrey was one retailer to use a display unit from Cadbury to drive seasonal sales last year.
“The Cadbury Christmas display unit was a huge success and we have never sold so many advent calendars,” he says. “We have always had a display, but last year we put it up earlier than usual and it generated sales for Bonfire Night and Halloween as well. We sold a tremendous amount of chocolate.”
In-store theatre can also help to create excitement around new, seasonal products, which can add an extra 9% to confectionery sales, according to Mars. The company suggests stocking up on new products and seasonal limited editions, then use in-store theatre to make them unmissable.
“I always find that premium chocolate sells more during Christmas than normal confectionery like Cadbury and Galaxy, but in the past two years they’ve introduced the giant bars and we sell a lot of those.
“Lindt is a big seller – all of its boxed chocolates – and Guylian. I sell some local chocolates as well. We stock a brand called Goupie, which is made in Goudhurst.
“For the past two years we’ve had a big window display right at the entrance. We make sure it’s lit up and decorated with products and Christmas trees. I definitely think it makes a difference as it makes a lot of people stop by.”
“Confectionery is worth a lot to us – it’s nearly 80% of our sales coming up to Christmas. Boxed chocolates sell really well, as do large sharing bars. We have a lot of purchases for gifts.
“If we have space available, we do a special gift display. Otherwise, we’ll just include Christmas confectionery as part of our normal display section and allocate a bit more space for boxed chocolates because they’re such a big thing at Christmas.
“We tend to get ready around early November. Once Bonfire Night is over we’re gearing up