School will soon be out for summer and as buying ‘thank you’ presents for teachers increases in popularity, Nikki Allen finds out how to earn top marks with shoppers.

The Opportunity

Almost 50% of parents bought a present for their child’s teacher in 2016, and 41% treated teaching assistants to a gift. Most spent around £10 on school staff, while one in 10 spent £25.

And what did the survey find was the most popular present for teachers? If you guessed chocolate, you’re top of the class.

“From end-of-term gifts to summer fayres and barbecues, summer is the peak season for social events,” says Jonathan Summerly, Hancocks purchasing director. “As such, sharing and gifting confectionery is increasingly popular at this time of year. Retailers should make sure they get involved.”

While sales in the chocolate category as a whole have declined by 0.6% over the past year in convenience, treat bags and sharing pouches are up 6.3% annually, making up 20% of chocolate sales.

Bep Dhaliwal, trade communications manager at Mars Chocolate, says: “Across the category, we are seeing consumers favouring treat bags and pouches. Mars has been driving this growth with sales up 0.3% to a 46.1% share of the category.”

Do it: Promote the idea of buying a present for a teacher on social media, ahead of the end of term

Getting the right range

Retailer Barrie Seymour, owner of Londis in Liversedge, West Yorkshire, says sharing and gifting confectionery is key to his impulse sales.

“Sharing bags are the biggest selling confectionery format in my store, and they sell all year – not just seasonally,” he explains.

It’s important that you do not forget about price-savvy consumers when it comes to your sharing bags range. “We are seeing increasing popularity of own brand products in independents, due to lower budgets and the better quality of lesser-known brands,” says Hancocks’ Jonathan Summerly.

“With so many price-conscious shoppers today, price-marked packs reassure them that they are getting the best value for money,” says Mars’ Bep Dhaliwal.

But while pouches and bags are great for the whole class to share, shoppers looking for something special to give to teachers will be drawn to boxed chocolate gifts, says Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Mondelez International. 

“Classic brands that have built loyal followings over the years are always popular options for presents,” she says.

Cadbury Milk Tray is a must-stock for gift fixtures, while Cadbury Heroes grew by 20% last year.

Levi Boorer, Ferrero customer development director, says boxed chocolate provides a lucrative sales opportunity for retailers at this time of year.

“When it’s gifts shoppers are looking for, they’ll opt for quality over quantity, so brands like Thorntons are a must-stock,” he explains.

Creating a fantastic display

The secret to sales success for end-of-term gifts is creating eye-catching and compelling displays.

Dan Newell, Wrigley confections marketing manager, says: “Creating a clear display that communicates that you stock teachers’ gifts draws shoppers into the fixture.”

Displays should be well-stocked and clearly visible, making full use of supplier PoS, says Susan Nash at Mondelez.

“Gift items must be located together, ideally on the top shelf of the main fixture. These occasions are great opportunities for secondary displays in high-traffic areas,” she adds.

Hancocks’ Jonathan Summerley recommends using all the space around the display, suspending props from the ceiling and using floor stickers to achieve maximum impact.

Barrie Seymour is already making the most of secondary siting and dedicated displays for sharing bags.

“I encourage shoppers to buy sharing bags by creating extra displays of them on clip strips throughout my store, as well as in dumpbins near my tills. This helps them sell all year round,” he says.

How to promote it

The final step to great sales is making sure you promote the offer in store and via social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.

“It’s vital retailers invest in strong PoS and signage and, if possible, make the most of national TV advertising by supporting new products in store,” urges Summerly.

“Retailers should make sure they use all PoS available to them, such as dumpbins and counter units, as these are guaranteed to raise awareness and generate impulse sales,” agrees Dhaliwal.

And don’t forget to make the most of price promotions by shouting about them in your displays, says Seymour.

“Confectionery is a very promotion-driven category, and when products are on promotion they fly off the shelves.”

By following these tips, you’re sure to become every teacher’s pet:

    1. Taste test

      Create a dedicated teacher-themed display that gives parents and pupils the chance to try before they buy. Open up a box of sample chocolates with a message congratulating children on the end of the academic year – and reminding them to thank their teachers for all their hard work.

    2. Picture this

      Images have a stronger emotional impact on shoppers than words alone, making them more likely to buy. Take time to create a bright and colourful display, drawing on school themes and images, such as primary colours, blackboards, classrooms and happy children.

    3. A floral theme

      if you sell flowers, create a secondary confectionery gift display of boxed chocolates near to them to make the most of the opportunity for upselling. By placing them near your floral display, you’ll encourage shoppers to think about buying them as an extra gift.

Retailer View

“We have part of one of our aisles devoted to seasonal promotions like gifts for teachers, so we can have a display without having to move around the whole store. Having this dedicated area is important for displays like end-of-term gifts, as is promoting all our activity on Facebook.

“We will use a mixture of PoS for our seasonal confectionery display. Boxed chocolates will do well for this occasion, but we find it’s even more effective to bring together all the different elements like cards, chocolates, and other gift ideas. We’re considering creating gift baskets with chocolates, soaps and wine, like we did for Mother’s Day.”

Gregory Cochrane,
Kilkeel, County Down