Valentine’s Day sees shoppers buying those last minute gifts for a loved one, an ideal opportunity for independent retailers.

Chocolate is by far the most popular gift at Valentine’s Day comprising a substantial 37% of gifts between loved ones (Engage Research).
It’s important that retailers stock a balanced range of personalised or themed confectionery gifts from favourite brands that appeal to both men and women, suggests Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondelēz International. This should include tablets, inlaid and straight lines being the most suitable for gifting. They should also encourage retailers to create eye-catching displays for this occasion to attract shopper attention and maximise sales.
“Many of these confectionery products can be offered as part of all-year-round gifting displays and promotions too, as they are not restricted to individual occasions,” Nash comments. “Therefore retailers can stock up for sales spikes such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day to ensure strong availability, and utilise remaining stock in displays beyond these dates to drive year-round sales.”
An ultimate favourite for Valentine’s Day is the Cadbury Milk Tray which enjoyed £17m in sales last year, making it 2.5 times bigger than its closest competitor (IRI). The much-loved product, which was launched in 1915 and features the favourite Milk Tray Man in its adverts, offers the consumers a range of exciting chocolates which make for an ideal gift.
Mark Walker is Sales Director at Swizzels, the UK’s fastest growing sugar confectionery manufacturer (IRI) and the largest independent family-owned sugar confectionery business in the UK. Swizzels continues to perform well in the confectionery market, with sales up +9% YOY (IRI).
He said: ‘‘While chocolate is the common choice for confectionery gifts purchased over the Valentine’s Day period, sweets offer the perfect gifting alternative, and Valentine’s confectionery is increasing in popularity, having experienced 4.4% growth in the convenience channel in 2018 (IRI).”
Swizzels has a wide range of products available for Valentine’s Day, a key sales period for Swizzels in 2018 which is expected to be equally important in 2019, with sales largely driven by the iconic romantic sweet brand, Love Hearts.
Love Hearts has seen growth of 6% YOY (IRI) after it underwent a digital makeover with the introduction of emoji Love Hearts. Emojis increase product appeal for both the younger and older generations by adding an element of fun. Eleven of the nation’s favourite emojis now feature in Love Hearts packs alongside the brand’s more traditional messages, allowing a more modern way for customers to share the love. The individual rolls are also great for consumers to pick up while browsing the aisles at Valentine’s.
Swizzels’ number one selling treat over the Valentine’s period is back again – newly updated for 2019 with an emoji Love Hearts design is Swizzels’ chrome Love Hearts tin. The contemporary tin comes with three different message design options including I Love You and the emoji design featuring hearts for eyes, appealing to a wide consumer base. Each tin contains 100g Love Hearts mini rolls, making it a perfect additional Valentine’s gift.
The newly designed, eye-catching packaging ensures strong on-self visibility and the wide consumer appeal will maximise sales. The Love Hearts Tin is both the bestselling and the fastest growing Valentine’s line, having experienced +58% growth year on year (IRI).
The Love Hearts Gift Tube has also been updated with a new emoji Love Hearts design.
For a sweet treat to share with a loved one, Love Hearts share bags are perfect. Displayed on a clip strip, these share bags are filled with mini Love Hearts rolls, ideal for shoppers looking for an impulse purchase over the Valentine’s period. The clip strip display facility also allows retailers to position the product in different areas of the store to maximise sales opportunities.
Home baking
Valentine’s Day is a key occasion for home baking and has an index of 111 versus non-event week sales in Cake Decorations, Ingredients and Mixes.
More and more consumers are opting to bake as a more personalised homemade gift, meaning home baking sees uplift during the week leading up to Valentine’s day.
Key categories include Colours (Red & Pink especially), Inclusions, Flavours, Sprinkles, Marshmallows and Mixes, as key products to help bakers of all abilities create beautiful bakes for their loved ones.
Baking Aids such as Cocoa Powder, Bicarbonate of Soda and Baking Powder are also essentials for the home baking fixture and a vital part of many spring recipes.
“In terms of decorations, stock Dr. Oetker Wafer Daisies, Wafer Butterflies or Mini Wafer Flowers. Wafer Placements saw a 14% uplift in sales in spring 2017 compared to the national average, and are a popular floral addition to bakes (IRI),” advises Riccardo Panichi, Head of Marketing Cake & Dessert at Dr. Oetker UK. “Marzipan is also a popular product, as it’s used in the traditional Simnel cake and it has a sales index of 176 during the season. Consider stocking dried fruit close by to the fixture too, as key ingredients for Simnel cake.”
This year Dr. Oetker launched its Buttercream Style Icing (400g, MRRP: £2.50) in Rich Chocolate, Classic Vanilla and a Limited Edition Gingerbread. The product can either be used for spreading, filling or piping onto bakes, with the oval shaped container making it easier to spread straight from the tub. The range is also suitable for vegans.
“Aside from staples like wine and prosecco that are ideal for Valentine’s presents, it is also important to provide gift packs that are targeted at specific gifting price points i.e. £5, £10, £15, £25 etc,” advises Dan Harwood, Head of Wine Education for Halewood Wines & Spirits. “Consumers generally have a target spend in mind and offering a solution that fits that spend makes the decision easy and increases the chance of them making a purchase.”
“For Valentine’s Day, people are more inclined to push the boat out by treating not only romantic interests, but also friends and family to that extra special bottle.
“For time pressed shoppers, giving premium options pride of place at the front of the store is a quick fire way to be the solution to any dilemmas over what gift to buy.
“Retailers might want to go one step further by placing cheese close by as an add-on to suc a gift, as well as placing wine gift bags alongside to help increase the chances of impulse buys when someone dashes in for a last minute present.
“Avoid any signs of snobbery by making it easy for shoppers to find what they’re looking for, using no nonsense descriptions.”