Spring is here: Official

Easter brings warmer, longer days, the sweet tooth is indulged and get-togethers spell improved sales

Photo: iStock

Easter is ever-more important as a retail occasion, especially for the convenience channel, where the chief Easter goods – chocolates and confectionery – play a role of outsize importance.

According to Statista, in 2021 spending on Easter celebrations in the UK was £1.22 billion. In 2017 it was just £774 million – so sales have increased about a third in under five years: phenomenal growth and still powering ahead at a rate of 14 per cent since 2020 – so if anything, sales volume is accelerating.

That means it is worthwhile for every independent retailer to be aware of promotions, offers and relevant skus – especially NPD – that could help boost revenue over the lead-up to Easter.

This year, additionally, there is the added advantage that Easter is arriving relatively late, on 17 April, meaning that the road to Easter (which in sales terms Mondelēz International maps out as “A fast start”, “Mid-season momentum” and “Gifting finish” – see below) is longer, extending the celebration sales period. Incidentally, Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring Equinox (“ecclesiastical full moon”). The earliest date for Easter is March 22 and the latest is April 25 – although that won’t happen again until 2038!

Core range

Getting your range right is the key to selling more, and Ferrero UK’s Customer Development Director, Levi Boorer, says that for Easter, retailers should be focussing already on self-treat products in-store. “Items like our Ferrero Collection Crispy Eggs Hazelnut/Cocoa 100g or Kinder Joy 20g, encourage shoppers to buy into the season early and continue doing so throughout the whole of Easter.”

All categories play a different role at different stages during the Easter season: “Larger stores are encouraged to focus more on Easter Eggs with more planned missions, while smaller stores can dial up more of the sharing and self-treat products as their shoppers tend to be a bit more impulsive,” he adds.

Vegan products have made great headway in the chocolate and confectionery sector over the past couple of years. According to the B2B online marketplace, Shelf Now, internet searches for “vegan Easter eggs” rose by 79 per cent between 2020-2021, and “sugar-free” received the highest number of online searches last year.

The Raw Chocolate Company, which has been producing innovative organic choc products for 15 years,  has just unveiled its first Luxury Vegan, Organic Easter Egg in time for this year, and calls it “a conscious, dairy-free, and gluten-free alternative to mainstream Easter indulgence.

It is a hazelnut truffle-filled “M*lk” (a vegan term for non-dairy milk) chocolate egg and contains their award-winning Almond Snack Pack, “rich raw, vegan and kept as close to its natural state as possible”.

Director Emma Jackman says, “Our first Easter egg is yet another exciting step for us; our products are always ethical and always delicious – nobody does it better than we do!” The Raw Chocolate Company Hazelnut Truffle-Filled Easter Egg is priced at £4.99.

Meanwhile Moo Free, who have been a highly visible vegan presence on shelves lately, has expanded its best-selling Easter collection with the launch of three new products, including its very first, all-white hollow Easter egg – White Bunnycomb Crunch Easter Egg RRP £5.99 (185g). The Moofreesas Organic Egg RRP £5.99 (185g) and an Easter Egg Hunt Kit RRP £3.00 (56g) will also be joining the free-from chocolate line-up.

“Easter can be a frustrating time of year if you suffer with allergies or follow a plant-based diet,” said Andrea Jessop, Moo Free CEO. “We have set to change that frustration! Without compromising on taste or product quality we sourced the highest quality cocoa to create our chocolate and crafted a range of eleven products that will bring excitement to everyone’s Easter!”

For retailers searching for up-and-coming dairy-free and vegan brands, ShelfNow’s CEO Philip Linardos recommends family-run business Cocoa Libre, whose chocolates are made using rice milk. He says that for those looking for a traditional dairy chocolate Easter egg with a twist, the Keats Chocolatier Easter range is an ideal option. Also to note is Prodigy Snacks, the UK’s first plastic-free chocolate bar producer, whose products are are also dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan-friendly.

The Easter approach

In 2021 retailers saw Easter sales boom – and the 2022 Easter season lasts for two weeks longer, “offering retailers who stock the right range a real opportunity to capitalise on last year’s growth and continue to see their seasonal sales rise,” according to Mondelēz International, and that to take full advantage, retailers should look to focus on three distinct phases.

A fast start

To get the season off to a fast start, retailers need to signpost the season early and use social media to make customers aware that their favourite Easter products are on shelf. With great displays in high-footfall locations in store, retailers can boost their self-eat and sharing offers to shoppers.

Cadbury Creme Eggs will appear in a new promotion this season, inviting shoppers to find one of 200 special promotional half white half milk chocolate Creme Eggs across the UK and Ireland for the chance to win £10,000. A “How Do You NOT Eat Yours?” campaign will run across in-store POS and via online and outdoor advertising.

Mid-season momentum

Creating momentum at Easter is about stocking products that shoppers can buy to share with family and friends.

Key to the Cadbury range in 2022 is the continuation of the brand’s partnership with Peter Rabbit, who his year celebrates his 120th Anniversary, and graces the front of the brand-new Cadbury Dairy Milk Hot Cross Bun Bar. The new 110g bar will be available in cases of 18 at an RRP of £1.40.

Gifting finish

The run-up to Easter weekendis about ensuring that shoppers can find great gifts for loved ones. This includes products like Cadbury’s shell-egg range and larger options.

In 2021, sales of Easter Eggs alone grew by 10 per cent, driven by medium and large-sized eggs, as more shoppers chose to trade up. Retailers can tap into this trend by ensuring they stock up on the best-selling large, medium and small eggs to create a range for every gifting occasion.

Ferraro’s Levi Boorer agrees with the strategy, also splitting up the pre-Easter sales period into three – with the first part starting extra early for maximum sales: “We see the Easter season being spilt into three phases that retailers should adopt early on to maximise sales across all confectionery categories. Phase 1 is early season (First 7/8 weeks before Easter): This is where retailers should drive awareness with Mini Eggs and Self Treat products such as the Ferrero Collection Crispy Eggs Hazelnut/Cocoa 100g or Kinder Joy 20g.” But don’t just stop there!

Not just chocolates!

Eggs is eggs, they say, although gift boxes of chocs and tablets (such as the new Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Hot Cross Bun Bar) also sell extremely well in the lead-up to Easter.

Cakes and confectionery feature majorly as well. Premier Foods famously supplies the Cadbury Crème Egg range of cakes and Mini Egg-themed SKUs. Country Choice, which supplies so many independent stores with baked goods and food to go, says that retailers can share a slice of profit at the second busiest time of the year with a mixed case of fancies, strawberry or lemon flavour sponge topped with a crème cheese icing, a thick fondant layer and a sugar-coated chocolate egg decoration. The 85g cakes come individually wrapped, 10 of each flavour to a case, with an RRP of £1.40 per fancy.

They add traditional Hot Cross Buns and Easter Cupcakes are back. Their sweetly spiced buns are stuffed with fruit and mixed peel, packed in fours, ready to defrost, with an RRP of £1.25 per pack. The cupcakes, topped with lemon or chocolate icing and a chocolate mini egg, are always a winner, with an RRP of £1.40, available in a mixed case of 20.

In terms of sugar confectionery, Easter can be a great time for consumers to indulge: candy, chews and sweets nicely break up the chocolate horizon and add a taste differential. Kervan Gida is Turkey’s largest candy producer and exporter, and have been trading in the UK since 2015 – you would know their products from the Bebeto brand, which achieved 58 per cent growth in 2021, and saw the launch of Bebeto’s first UK TV advert.

Senior Brand Manager Gabriella Egleton recommends sharing bags, revealing that 52 per cent of confectionery occasions are shared with other people, and that in the last year multipacks and sharing sweets’ sales value grew 3.9 per cent. “This is all the more reason to promote Bebeto sharing bags and help make sharing moments extra special,” she says.

“In April 2021 we launched our 150g Gummies range, made with real juice and no artificial colours. We took our best-selling shapes and flavours, Big Fizzy Mix, Strawberries, Fizzy Watermelons and Big Mix, and mixed, matched and repackaged them in a bigger sharing bag format, in line with the strong growth in sharing bags seen during the pandemic.”

The Bebeto Gummies 150g range is available via wholesalers at MRRP £1 per pack, plus they are also available in a £1 PMP. The four-strong range is Vegetarian Society approved and Halal certified. Gabriella sums up the Easter opportunity by saying that “Bebeto products are packed full of fun flavours and tempting tastes and are available in sharing formats that bring people together. We set out to make ‘everything bebetter with Bebeto’ and Easter is no different! We’ll be boosting brand and product awareness in the run up to Easter via social media and through paid promotion, helping to drive awareness on behalf of our trade and retail stockists.”

She additionally recommends the Bebeto Pick & Mix Party Pack, available from distributor Bramble Foods. The 750g pack contains a mix of delicious sweets made with no artificial colours, plus a scoop for the sweets, 20 tuck shop style paper bags and Bebeto stickers: “It’s a perfect addition for those families celebrating with a party at home or as an alternative ‘egg hunt’.” she concludes.