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    Easter Treats: Fresh out of the egg

    Photo: iStock

    Its time to crack out your Easter confectionery and snacks for a season that even surpasses Christmas for chocolate treats

    As Easter approaches, the sweet scent of chocolate fills the air, and savvy convenience retailers have a golden opportunity to boost sales by tapping into the excitement surrounding this festive season. With Easter surpassing even the Christmas and New Year period in chocolate consumption, for retailers, tapping into the sweet-toothed frenzy can result in a significant boost in sales.

    The Easter treats market has seen steady growth over the past several years, driven by consumers’ desire for seasonal indulgences and premium products. Total Easter sales including boxed confectionery reached an impressive £640 million CSV in 2023 [Nielsen], which not only underscores the economic significance of Easter but also highlights consumer enthusiasm for the Easter occasion.

    “There are already 882 million treat reward servings per year, yet this sees a large uplift during the Easter period with the 4 w/e 16 April 2023 being 23 per cent higher than March and 52 per cent higher than May [Kantar],” said Naomi Shooman, global marketing director for sweet treats at Premier Foods.

    “Sweet treats remain closely associated with seasonal occasions, and Easter is no exception,”

    Shooman thinks the phenomenon of the “lipstick effect”, characterised by increased sales of small indulgences during economically challenging times, would come into play during this festive season.

    “Despite market conditions, a fifth of shoppers want more premium options at Easter in the cake category and are willing to trade up,” she notes.

    Easter Treats: Fresh out of the egg
    iStock image

    “The ‘lipstick effect’ is a key trend and interestingly, 47 per cent of consumers agreed that premium cakes were an affordable luxury. This increased to 62 per cent when asked in the context of seasonal occasions [IGD 2023]. At Easter, consumers are more likely to be spending time with friends and family, so we’re expecting more shoppers to turn to the category for sweet treats to share with loved ones.”

    Kathryn Hague, head of marketing at Hancocks, highlights gifting and impulse purchases as the major drivers of sales in the Easter treats category.

    “The sales opportunity for seasonal events such as Easter is boundless as people are actively looking for ways to celebrate and give gifts to one another,” she says. 

    “The impulse buy category is a very important source of sales during Easter for those looking to treat themselves. Another area which is bound to have a sales increase is the gifting sector. Customers will be looking for delicious treats to give to loved ones as part of Easter celebrations.”

    She advises convenience retailers to stock up on Easter products early to prevent missing out on the possible surge in seasonal sales.

    “Having a clear and attractive POS will allow retailers to take full advantage of the huge sales opportunity and will customers to easily get from point A to B,” she adds. “The seasonal lines need to be presented in eye-catching stands throughout the store, both at the front as the customers walk in and on the ends of aisles to attract the influx of customers.”

    The early birds

    Stocking Easter products early is not just a logistical decision; it is a strategic move that can significantly impact a retailer’s success during the holiday season. From building anticipation and extending the selling period to avoiding supply chain disruptions and creating a competitive advantage, the benefits of early Easter product-stocking are clear.

    Major confectionery businesses have already unveiled their Easter ranges, to help drive further “egg-citement” for shoppers.

    “Off the back of its most successful Easter ever in 2023, Mondelēz International is set to drive further excitement through the 2024 season with a brand-new tablet launch for the iconic Cadbury Creme Egg brand,” says Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Mondelēz International.

    Easter Treats: Fresh out of the egg

    The Cadbury Creme Egg Tablet will see the iconic brand taken into this format for the first time ever in the UK. As one of the UK’s favourite Easter SKUs, the Cadbury Creme Egg brand sees buy in from one in four households during the Easter season, allowing it to achieve an incredible brand awareness of 95 per cent [Kantar, 2023].

    “With this new tablet format added to the catalogue, perfect for both sharing and self-treat occasions, retailers will be able to use the irresistible allure of the Cadbury Creme Egg to drive their fast start to the season and repeat purchase rate.”

    Last year was a brilliant year for Cadbury Creme Egg, as the first ever innovation – Cadbury White Creme Egg – made up 25 per cent of all filled singles. It was the number-one new product in the market at Easter [Nielsen] and resulted in an incredible 127 Cadbury Creme Eggs being purchased every minute on average across the brand.

    “Along with Cadbury Creme Egg, Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without Cadbury Mini Eggs, which grew by 19 per cent in 2023 [Nielsen]. Mini in size, Cadbury Mini Eggs are mighty come Easter, as the number one Easter brand and the highest penetration – of any Easter brand,” Nash adds.

    “The handy bag is an Easter staple, delivering on taste, quality and familiarity for shoppers. While evidently an ideal seasonal treat, we’ve increasingly seen shoppers whipping up delicious baked goods, creating memories with loved ones.” 

    Mondelēz is set to drive further excitement through the 2024 season with the return of its annual “Find the Winning Egg” campaign, returning for a third season – and this year it is bigger than ever.

    Shoppers will be encouraged to keep an eye out for an extra special half-milk chocolate, half-white chocolate Cadbury Creme Egg. If a lucky shopper unwraps a winning egg, they will be rewarded with one of the hundreds of cash prizes on offer, including the chance to nab the top prize of £10,000. Plus, in 2024 there will be more winning eggs than ever before.

    Once again, retailers that sell a winning egg could win the top-prize of £1,000 for themselves and their store. In addition to this, there are also a number of other cash prizes up for grabs, ranging from £25 – £500, as well as Amazon vouchers.

    “The competition will put consumers and retailers across the nation on the ultimate Easter egg hunt, sparking a nationwide quest to ‘Find the Winning Egg.’ This will be supported with social, digital, and outdoor activations, letting everyone know that the goo is back. There will also be a suite of POS materials to be used in-store, driving greater public awareness of the campaign,” Nash explains.

    Easter Treats: Fresh out of the egg

    Mars Wrigley’s 2024 Easter line-up is “choc-full” of new product launches alongside returning best sellers. A total of eight NPD are set to hit shelves this Easter season, including products from shopper favourite brands Skittles, M&MS and Galaxy.

    As observed in 2023, 42 per cent of Easter sales took place in January and February, driven primarily by unplanned impulse purchases. To maximise this consumer excitement, and therefore the revenue opportunity, this Easter, Mars Wrigley is launching its range of Easter products from as early as January, extending the Easter occasion.

    As March unfolds, a notable shift in shoppers’ focus occurs, from the initial early impulse treat to gifting and planned purchases. A substantial 74 per cent of Easter gifting confectionery is typically sold in the final three-week period leading up to Easter [NielsenIQ 2023].

    “At Mars Wrigley, our portfolio is underpinned by the power of our brands which cover all key demographics, and all have their unique role to play within the Easter season,” said Florence Kayll, senior brand manager, Easter, at Mars Wrigley.

    “2023 saw a large growth in shopper consideration toward Mars Wrigley Easter products, with over 600,000 shoppers exclusively buying into iconic Mars Wrigley brands during the spring period. More Easter shoppers added Mars Wrigley to their repertoire, and existing shoppers were adding more of our products to their baskets.

    “Capitalising on this momentum, Mars Wrigley has introduced eight innovative new products to its 2024 Easter range. The move not only enhances the Easter experience for shoppers but also provides retailers with the opportunity to boost their offerings, and therefore maximise sales, starting as early as January.”

    Self Eat

    Whilst the Self Eat category declined by 5.1 per cent in 2023, Mars Wrigley bucked the trend and delivered a 4.7 per cent value growth through their Maltesers Bunny range [Nielsen]. With this in mind, the business has made available the Maltesers Bunny from 1 January, along with the market launch of the Galaxy Creamy Truffle Mini Eggs Hazelnut, allowing shoppers to act on their impulses by picking up a tasty treat.

    The Mars Wrigley Easter range is incomplete without M&M’S Hollow Shapes, returning for 2024. For those looking to break away from the conventional eggs, hollow shapes offer a fun twist to the holiday celebration. With a substantial 59 per cent of shoppers under 45 years old opting to purchase these treats, they serve as the gateway to attracting a younger audience to Easter confectionery. M&M’S® Hollow Shapes offer a unique proposition with tasty M&M’S Minis inside to drive extra shopper appeal.

    In the past year, the traditional egg confectionery market experienced a value growth of 1.7 per cent, with the category worth £246m as a result [Nielsen].

    Easter Treats: Fresh out of the egg

    The NPDs from Mars Wrigley in its Large & Extra-Large Egg offering include Skittles Milk Chocolate Egg with Skittles Bag, offering a unique contrast of fruity and chocolatey flavours that will leave your taste buds tingling and Galaxy Truffles Mini Eggs Extra Large Easter Egg, the perfect bite-sized pleasure for your Easter celebrations.

    And that’s not all – Mars Wrigley is further bolstering the offering with the introduction of its Twix Large Egg with Twix Bar, M&M’S Mix Extra Large Egg with Milk Chocolate Bag of M&M’S and Peanut Bag of M&M’S and Maltesers Extra Large Egg with treat bag.

    Giant eggs are the fastest-growing Easter egg partition (+59 per cent YOY). In fact, they proved so popular that Mars Wrigley saw a six per cent increase in the volume of packs purchased per shopping trip in 2023. These larger-than-life Easter treats offer consumers an opportunity to trade up and indulge in an unforgettable gifting experience.

    Galaxy Caramel Giant Easter Egg will be a true indulgence for caramel lovers, featuring a chocolate shell filled with luscious caramel pieces. It’s a blend of rich, creamy chocolate and sweet caramel “that will melt in your mouth”.

    Maltesers Assorted Truffles Luxury Egg is another new launch that includes a variety of delectable truffles, and Maltesers Easter Mix combines the iconic lightness and malted flavour of Maltesers with the fun of Maltesers Bunny. This new mix is a delightful assortment that captures the essence of joyous spring celebrations, perfect for the Easter egg hunt ritual!

    Accompanying the NPD, 18 products are returning for 2024, including a host of Easter eggs such as the Maltesers Truffles Luxury Egg range, Galaxy Ripple and Maltesers Extra Large Eggs.

    New bunny in town

    There’s a new Lindt Gold Bunny in town, made from one of the nation’s favourite flavours, salted caramel.

    The Lindt master chocolatiers have excelled themselves, crafting smooth milk chocolate with salted caramel pieces into this delicious Lindt Gold Bunny. Dressed in the iconic Lindt gold foil and bell, with a brand-new blue ribbon, Lindt Gold Bunny Salted Caramel is ideal for gifting, decoration and indulging.

    Another new addition to the Lindt Easter collection is Lindt Gold Bunny Salted Caramel Easter Egg, containing a mouth-watering smooth milk chocolate egg and the new Lindt Gold Bunny Salted Caramel. Created from the finest Lindt chocolate, it’s a wonderful gift for a salted caramel lover.

    Easter Treats: Fresh out of the egg

    The new launches for Easter 2024 also include Lindt Gold Bunny Milk Chocolate Bar, which depicts a charming, embossed Spring design of the Easter bunny. Crafted using the original Gold Bunny chocolate, it’s an ideal seasonal self-treat or to share.

    The Lindt Gold Bunny Easter Egg collection has had a makeover across all four sizes, with an eye-catching gold design to celebrate this iconic brand. Each contains a milk or white chocolate Easter egg and a milk, strawberry or salted caramel Lindt Gold Bunny or two, guaranteed to please the chocolate lovers in your life.

    Candy delights

    The age-old tradition of Easter baskets, often filled to the brim with an array of candies, is a major driver of candy sales during this season. Families and friends delight in creating and exchanging these sweet-filled baskets, making candies an integral part of the Easter gifting tradition.

    Dark chocolate toffee brand Riesen is extending its range for the first time with the launch of a limited-edition espresso flavour, combining the rich taste of espresso coffee with delicious chocolate.

    “The UK is a nation of coffee lovers, with the coffee shop market growing by 7.3 per cent and 61 per cent of consumers now preferring it to tea,” Andy Mutton, managing director at Storck UK, comments.  

    “Our new product caters to this growing demand and offers consumers that classic combination of chocolate and coffee in the form of an indulgent treat. We believe that the new flavour will be popular amongst the brand’s current loyal following as well as bringing in new shoppers by driving excitement in the category.”

    Easter Treats: Fresh out of the egg
    Riesen Espresso 135g

    Riesen is now worth £4.9 million in retail sales value [IRI] and ranks as the sixth fastest growing brand in the sugar confectionery segment. As the number one dark chocolate toffee brand, Mutton says Riesen is well placed to tap into this flavour trend with its new limited-edition offering and drive growth in the category.

    Available from January 2024 in 135g sharing bags, Riesen Espresso will be supported by in-store and online promotions to drive awareness and trial of the new product.

    Meanwhile, Hancocks has its Candy Realms Jelly Bean Carrot Bags, Cupcake Dip N Lick, as well as the Bunny Tubes, available for Easter this year.

    And, new from the Bonds of London brand is the Chick ‘n’ Mix Candy Cups, available as an alternative to chocolate eggs. The mix is packed with classic pick and mix favourites such as fried eggs, white chocolate snowies, mallow ducks and marshmallows.

    “Compared to standard pick and mix lines, Candy Cups provide a hygienic, pre-portioned option which requires less space in store while still grabbing the attention of customers,” says Head of Marketing, Kathryn Hague.

    Also from Bonds of London are the Jelly Bunny Faces and Duckling Marshmallows, ready for Easter. The sweets are the perfect self-eat treat to enjoy over the season.

    Easter Treats: Fresh out of the egg

    She also recommends their popular Pez dispensers as the perfect impulse treat for Easter. Customers have the choice of four charming characters to choose from – bunny, duck, sheep, and easter egg.

    “As gifting is expected to be one the most sought-after sectors for Easter this year, we encourage retailers to stock up on popular gifting products such as the vanilla-flavoured Lucy Lamb lollies,” she adds. “The Lucy Lamb lollipops are made of soft and chewy mallow and are a delightful gift to give to youngsters over Easter.”

    Hancocks also has its tasty Candy Realms Spring Jelly Pops available. “The RRP £0.50 strawberry-flavoured lollipops come in four playful designs and will be an eye-catching option to have on the ends of aisles and tills in stores,” Hague says.

    Other novelty products include the Jelly Bean Carrots, Mallow Pop Skewers and Jelly Bean Bunnies which all come in fun Easter-themed shapes and have retail prices starting from just £0.50.

    Allure of cakes

    Just as with candies, cake manufacturers and bakeries often introduce seasonal flavours and innovative designs specifically for Easter.

    “Mr Kipling’s popular non-HFSS compliant Deliciously Good range will be expanded with the Hot Cross Pies again this year, with their popular sweet and spiced flavours of Easter, baked in a pie format with real fruit pieces,” said Naomi Shooman at Premier Foods.

    “These non-HFSS pies are ideal for shoppers looking for a healthier treat to enjoy without compromising on taste as they have 30 per cent less sugar, driving penetration with health aware consumers. As they are HFSS-compliant, Mr Kipling’s Deliciously Good Hot Cross Pies can be promoted throughout the store for maximum visibility.”

    Easter Treats: Fresh out of the egg

    Both Mr Kipling and Cadbury Cakes will be running a campaign at Easter which will give shoppers an opportunity to win adventures through cake packs, including a dream family holiday for four people, days out and over 100 other prizes.

    The campaign is live now and will run until 16 March across all retail channels.

    “One way in which independents can compete with multiples is to introduce distinctive in-aisle activity making the cake aisle an exciting destination – especially when prizes are on offer,” Shooman noted.

    “Premier Foods’ aim is to disrupt and recruit shoppers into the cake category during the Easter period – the latest Mr Kipling and Cadbury campaign to win a dream family holiday and other prizes, will be supported with standout branded execution in-store.”

    Mark Alldred, marketing director for flavours and seasonings at Premier Foods, asks retailers to leverage in-store merchandising and promotions to highlight brands like Bisto Gravy, Paxo Stuffing, OXO Stock Cubes, which are synonymous with the roast dinner, to maximise sales impact for the roast dinner categories around Easter.

    “Key components can be positioned in store together, with cross category promotions to encourage increased basket spend,” he says.

    “Bisto, Paxo and OXO will be creating point-of-sales displays to offer just this, enabling shoppers to shop easily for their traditional meal with the Bisto and Paxo core ranges. These offer value but also familiarity to consumers looking to celebrate with brands that they trust for the special occasion.”

    Beyond chocolate

    Easter represents a valuable opportunity for retailers to drive sales and footfall, but it’s not just about chocolate, notes Matt Collins, trading director at KP Snacks.

    “As friends and family gather for social events to make the most of the Bank Holidays and families look for affordable ways to have fun at home over the Easter break, the bagged snacks category is critical,” he says.

    He advises retailers to offer themed fixtures and promotions and ensure they stock an exciting range of sharing crisps, snacks and nuts (CSN) products to capitalise on Easter opportunities.

    “Worth £1.68billion, Sharing is the largest segment in CSN and is growing strongly at 13.7 per cent [NielsenIQ]. At KP Snacks, we are catering to the growth of sharing occasions with a diverse portfolio of tasty snacks that generate demand and drive sales. Our exciting sharing range has something for everyone, from popcorn to nuts to pretzels and of course crisps,” Collins says.

    Nuts offer a delicious snack for gatherings with friends and family and KP Nuts, which recently celebrated its 70th anniversary, leads the category, with more than five times the size of the nearest branded competitor, and growing 14.2 per cent.

    Easter Treats: Fresh out of the egg

    KP Nuts’ sharing portfolio features both classic favourites including its Original Salted, Honey Roast and Dry Roasted Peanuts as well as bold and tempting flavours from the KP Flavour Kravers range. The Flavour Kravers range was recently expanded with the launch of two new coated variants: KP Flavour Kravers Crunchy Coated Aromatic Thai Chilli and KP Flavour Kravers Crunchy Coated Katsu Curry.

    “Designed to tempt new shoppers to the Nuts segment, the new KP Flavour Kravers products deliver innovative flavours and a satisfyingly crunchy and crispy texture,” Collins comments.

    He adds that their premium snack brand Tyrrells pairs exquisitely with a variety of wines and ciders to make Easter occasions feel more special.

    “The Tyrrells brand is acclaimed for its high quality and delicious flavours, with 91 Great Taste awards to the brand’s name. Tyrrells crisps are growing 16.9 per cent in the Sharing segment and the Premium CSN segment is growing 10 per cent, making Tyrrells 150g Sharing bags key products to stock as consumers look to trade up to premium snacks,” he says.

    Popcorn is the perfect partner to family fun over the Easter period and KP Snacks boasts Butterkist in its portfolio, which has a 35.9 per cent market share of the popcorn segment.

    Last year, Butterkist launched Crunchy Hazelnut Chocolate flavour toffee popcorn variant, delivering a sweet snacking experience that capitalises on the growing trend of hazelnut flavours in confectionery.

    Easter presents a golden opportunity for local convenience retailers to tap into the dual dynamics of increased seasonal spending and the lipstick effect. By understanding consumer behaviour patterns and strategically aligning marketing efforts with the emotional appeal of Easter-themed products, retailers can transform their stores into go-to destinations for Easter delights and enjoy a sweet spot in both sales and customer satisfaction during this festive season.

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