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    Sweet Spring Sensations: Must-stocks, new launches, display tips

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    Convenience stores across the land are bustling with the delightful allure of sweet treats, and for good reason. As the weather warms and spirits lift, there’s no better way to celebrate the season of renewal than with a mouthwatering assortment of chocolates and confectionery.

    But it’s not just about satisfying a sweet tooth; these delectable delights play a crucial role in convenience stores too. From Easter bunnies to Mother’s Day indulgences, chocolates and confectionery become the go-to gifts for every occasion. Plus, let’s not forget about those impromptu picnics and outdoor adventures that call for portable snacks – chocolates and confectionery fit the bill perfectly, offering a quick burst of energy and a taste of pure joy.

    We Brits tend to have a significant affinity for chocolate and confectionery. Industry figures show that one in six people in the country consume chocolate every day.

    This sweet section plays a crucial role in convenience stores, ranking among the top five highest selling segments in this channel. The volume of sales of chocolates through convenience stores is estimated to register 38.96 per cent volume share in 2024.

    Dark chocolate sales are estimated to grow at the highest CAGR through convenience stores. Figures from analyst NIQ (formerly Nielsen) show chocolate singles continue to have the largest share of confectionery, representing a quarter of all sales in independent and symbol stores and growing at 9 per cent. Sharing products are also growing, with chocolate multi-packs up 12 per cent.

    Sweet Spring Sensations: Must-stocks, new launches, display tips

    Despite economic fluctuations, chocolate confectionery has shown remarkable resilience and growth, remaining a beloved choice for consumers seeking indulgence and comfort.

    Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondelēz International, says, “Consumers enjoy products that remind them of their past, making nostalgia, or the sentimental element of a heritage brand, a strong selling point. In 2024 Cadbury is celebrating its 200th year! Throughout this year, the brand will be engaging in a multitude of activities, promotions, and celebrations to mark the landmark anniversary, including heritage limited-edition bars.”

    However, the recent surge in global cocoa prices has impacted the UK confectionery market, raising production costs for many manufacturers.

    Hannah Clough, senior brand manager at Mallow & Marsh, explains to Asian Trader, “Like many categories, overall confectionery – including both sugar and chocolate – has seen inflation impacting volume, which declined by over 3.5 per cent in 2023. However, even though consumers have had significantly less money to spend during the cost of living, we’ve found that they are still looking for those moments of indulgence, just at a reasonable price.”

    Despite the impact of inflation, the sugar confectionery sector as a whole grew by 13.4 per cent in 2023 and whilst the cost of living is impacting some products, over half of UK consumers are not reducing their spending on treats and non-essentials when shopping – meaning that treat categories such as confectionery are seeing better performance than other areas of the store, Clough adds.

    “At Mallow & Marsh, growth has been even more profound. Last year saw our mallow bars grow a huge 33 per cent, as customers sought indulgent products which offer a moment of me-time and escapism from their everyday life.”

    The cost-of-living crisis’s influence has significantly impacted consumer habits. However, this aisle remains more or less unaffected as consumers are anyway celebrating occasions at home rather than going out.

    Kathryn Hague, Head of Marketing at Hancocks, says, “Although 55 per cent of people are going out less, they tend to treat themselves more, as confectionery is still an affordable treat for a lot of households.

    Must Stock and bestsellers

    M&M’s, Maltesers, Cadbury Twirl, Galaxy, Kit Kat, Cadbury Dairy Milk, Kinder, Lindt Lindor are some of the names that ensure sure shot impulse sales. Not to forget Ferrero Rocher, Galaxy and Toblerone.

    According to industry analyst Statista, Cadbury and Galaxy go head-to-head when it comes to being the most well-known chocolate brand in the UK. Both these brands are recognized by 96 percent of online respondents, 1 percentage point more than third placed Aero.

    There are some products that tend to perform well in the convenience sector.

    Even if people have brought lunch from home, many still look for a quick treat while out and about during the day. Chocolate and sugar confectionery in single formats cater for this impulse occasion, with shoppers enjoying Cadbury Twirl Caramel or Cadbury Caramilk single bars, for example.

    Choc Nibbles is another exciting name in this category.

    Retailing at a competitive RRP £1, Choc Nibbles stands out as a beacon of affordability and quality. Despite the industry’s cost pressures, Choc Nibbles manages to deliver an exceptional chocolate confectionery range without compromising on taste or value for money.

    With its pocket-friendly price point, Choc Nibbles remains the go-to choose for consumers as it offer a unique and enjoyable experience for consumers. The core 150g share bag range is available in five delicious flavours, complemented by our new 120g chunky chocolate bars, Choc Nibbles cater to diverse preferences and occasions, making them suitable for a wide range of multiples, independents, and convenience stores.

    With a heritage of over 30 years, Choc Nibbles blend nostalgia with innovation, disrupting the market with creativity. Understanding evolving consumer trends is essential for retailers to capitalise on emerging opportunities, especially the rising demand for experiential and novel flavours.

    Sweet Spring Sensations: Must-stocks, new launches, display tips
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    Choc Nibbles’ spokesperson says, “Convenience and competitive pricing further enhance their appeal, with plans to launch a £1 PMP range later in the year. As most of the big brands have moved to £1.25 / £1.35 we believe that this gives us fantastic differentiation.”

    “We’re also workingwith retailers on sales activation and marketing campaigns, designed to captivate consumers and drive sales that will delight chocolate enthusiasts of all ages.”

    Choc Nibbles stockists can expect not only high-quality products but also access to a brand that is constantly evolving and pushing boundaries in the confectionery industry.

    2024 is Cadbury’s year as it is celebrating its 200th year. Throughout this year, the brand will engage in many activities, promotions, and celebrations to mark the landmark anniversary, including heritage limited-edition bars. The 180g Cadbury Dairy Milk Bars, as well as 95g PMP packs, are available in seven different collectable designs, featuring packaging from across the ages, starting as far back as 1915 and running right up to the present day.

    Nash says, “The striking, nostalgic packs will add real theatre to retailers’ stores, and delight shoppers for whom the Cadbury brand has been an ever-present in their lives. Shoppers from every generation should be able to recognise the Cadbury Dairy Milk bar they saw on store shelves when growing up, with the inside of each pack illustrated with a special artwork documenting some of Cadbury’s milestone moments.”

    What’s new

    Confectionery category is always buzzing with new launches. Its shoppers are also always well-informed about what’s new and exciting (and can be real finicky too) so make sure that your store also stocks the latest launches.

    Chupa Chups has launched two new flavours for its fans in a cool, slush format- Strawberry and Cola. At just 41 calories per pouch, they are a great option when a sweet treat is called for as well as being suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

    The two new Slush Pouches are packed into a convenient, ambient format which is a win-win for both retailers and shoppers as they can be stored on both grocery fixture as well as home pantry shelf before being frozen as and when needed.

    Confectionery manufacturer Perfetti Van Melle is also leading innovation in the field once again with Mentos Discovery, which offers a category-first 14 different flavour sweets in one roll.

    Mixed fruit flavours dominate the Hard Chews Sweets category with recent research proving there is a burgeoning appetite among sweet eaters for exotic flavours. Mentos Discovery is primed to break new ground in the category with 14 flavours including passion fruit, lychee, blueberry, blackcurrant, lime, strawberry, raspberry, orange, lemon, watermelon, banana, grape, cherry and pineapple.

    Nestlé has announced its new range for 2024 – a sharing bag selection inspired by popular ice cream flavours. Incorporating four of its best-loved brands – Aero, Munchies, Rowntree’s Randoms and Milkybar – the reimagined classics will be given a fresh, nostalgic, ice cream twist.

    Sweet Spring Sensations: Must-stocks, new launches, display tips

    Nestle has also unveiled its 2024 Easter line-up, bringing new products and popular classics. Quality Street Golden Collection Incredible Egg (RRP: £12) brings together delicious fudge and caramel pieces in a milk chocolate caramel-flavoured shell and is accompanied by a pack of Quality Street caramel, fudge and toffees. Additionally, joining the Incredible Egg line up is Smarties Sea Splash (RRP: £7.49).

    Meanwhile, Cadbury has built on the success of two of its most popular launches of the last few years with the launch of Cadbury Darkmilk Praline and Cadbury Caramilk Crispy. Cadbury Caramilk Crispy is available in an 85g tablet format. It comprises a golden blend of white chocolate with a light crisped rice inclusion. Cadbury Darkmilk Praline is also available in 85g tablet format. It contains Cadbury Darkmilk’s deliciously creamy, rich, high-cocoa chocolate, with a creamy hazelnut filling, and joined the successful Darkmilk range.

    To also help drive further “eggs-citement” for shoppers, Mondelēz International has announced the return of its iconic Cadbury shell-eggs for the upcoming Easter season.

    Last year’s “egg-stra” special relaunch and repositioning saw the full range divided into clear, distinctive and easy-to-shop categories. The brand also brought the magic back to its small shell-egg collection by putting Cadbury Buttons, Cadbury Mini Eggs and other delicious treats back inside the chocolate egg once again, as many will remember from years ago, with this returning for 2024.

    Cadbury is also building on the continued success of the popular Duos format – growing by 17 per cent– with the introduction of fresh packaging on the full Duos range. The vibrant new packaging features a clear message on-pack of ‘One for me, One for you’, aiming to grow and capitalise on the sharing opportunity and further demonstrate the value of the Duos proposition to shoppers.

    Following a hugely successful first year, Mondelēz International is bringing back its eye-catching Big Win-Win campaign once again, offering both retailers and their shoppers the chance to win huge cash prizes.

    The Cadbury Big Win-Win on-and off-pack promotion will run from the end of February to mid-June, inviting consumers to nominate their local shop to give them a chance to win a generous cash prize to match their own. There are 70 prizes of £1,000, and another 60 prizes of £500 up for grabs for shoppers, and 130 retailers will be given the chance to win those prizes alongside their shoppers.

    Sweet Spring Sensations: Must-stocks, new launches, display tips

    The promotion is available across Cadbury’s full Singles and Duo’s range, including both PMP and non-PMP formats. Special packs will be available across very top sellers, such as Cadbury Twirl, CadburyDairy Milk and Wispa in both PMP & non-PMP formats. The campaign will also be activated off-pack across Cadbury’s full singles and duos range.

    It is essential to stock popular brands of dark chocolate as well like Riesen.

    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.

    Andy Mutton, Managing Director at Storck UK, comments, “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. 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.”

    Riesen is now worth £4.9 million in retail sales value and ranks as the sixth fastest growing brand in the sugar confectionery segment. As a leading dark chocolate toffee brand, 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 at MRSP £1.25, Riesen Espresso is supported by in-store and online promotions to drive awareness and trial of the new product.

    Furthermore, there’s lots of exciting developments in the pipeline this year at Mallow & Marsh. It has re-introduced its coconut mallow bars back into its core range, following consumer demand.

    “We’re also excited to be launching a heavyweight BTL and ATL marketing campaign celebrating the concept of ‘Pauseworthy Pleasure’, following the recent roll-out of our new, more sophisticated brand look and feel.”

    Confectionery wholesaler Hancocks is buzzing with some new product lines, just in time for Easter, including the Candy Realms Lucy Lamb Mallow Lollies. Vanilla-flavoured marshmallow lollipops, shaped like cute little lambs, they are individually wrapped on sticks and come in a handy display box for easy merchandising.

    Sweet Spring Sensations: Must-stocks, new launches, display tips

    The wholesaler also has Bonds of London brand’s Easter-themed Chick n Mix Candy Cup which is filled with fruit flavor gummy bunnies, fried eggs, snowies and sugar-coated vanilla marshmallows.

    Also new from Bonds, are the Easter share bags with an affordable retail price of £1.25. The Jelly Bunny Faces share bag is filled with brightly coloured jelly bunny faces with a delicious fruity flavour. The Duckling Marshmallows bag consists of yellow and white sugar-coated vanilla marshmallows in cute duckling shapes.

    PEZ brand’s recently launched Easter-themed dispensers, with four figures to collect – bunny, duck, sheep, and easter egg- are also available at Hancocks. The impulse pack including two refill packs is retailed for £2.00 and a Blister pack with one candy refill pack has an RRP of £1.75.

    Keeping dietary preferences, Hancocks also has Nomo’s dairy, gluten, nut and egg free chocolate and Easter range. Their Easter range includes Mini Cookie Dough Bunnies, Chocolate eggs in caramel, cookie dough and creamy choc flavours, Little Nomsters Egg with Lolly and Foiled Hollow Bunnies.

    Consumer trend

    Chocolate and confectionery are mostly about young shoppers, so make sure you are updated with what’s in vogue.

    Moments of indulgence continue to be important, particularly for younger adult consumers, as a way of de-stressing, while many consumers associate snacks with connecting with others.

    Clough from Mallow & Marsh reminds retailers to stock well for big gatherings.

    “Big Night In is still a real trend amongst customers – three quarters of UK consumers have reduced their spending on food and drink out of home, instead opting for ‘treat occasions’ at home, which have grown by nearly 5 per cent on last year.

    “This is driving an increased demand for sharing pack formats, such as Mallow & Marsh sharing pouches, which saw a sales increase of 10 per cent last year.”

    Sweet Spring Sensations: Must-stocks, new launches, display tips

    Plant-based milk chocolate is set to expand its presence in the UK. With consumer awareness of healthy nutrition and sustainable consumption on the rise, increasing numbers of plant-based milk chocolate offerings are expected to gain shelf space in retailers over the forecast period.

    No longer a niche market, vegan is a particular growth area in chocolate, with 48 per cent of British adults now consuming plant-based milk. Brands are also responding- Mars Wrigley has launched its new Galaxy Vegan Salted Caramel bar as part of a refresh of the entire Galaxy Vegan range while Nestlé also entered the vegan market with the launch of Kit Kat V.

    Luxury chocolate is on the rise. A quarter of chocolate buyers in the UK say they would pay more for a luxury brand of chocolate for themselves, while 44 per cent would do so as a gift, as consumers become more concerned about cocoa content, source of origin, originality, and authenticity.

    Mondelez’s research supports this, stating that the ‘special treat’ category in particular has seen strong growth of 15 per cent from 2022 to 20233.

    Nash from Mondelēz International states, “Additionally, we’ve seen that shoppers are increasingly looking to enjoy evenings at home as a more cost-effective way to spend time together.

    “This subsequent increase in the Big Night In occasion can be catered to with our gifting and sharing formats. They offer a great opportunity for stores to capitalise on shopper excitement throughout the year.”

    Retailers can make the most of Cadbury’s range of sharing products by stocking products such as Cadbury Roses, Cadbury Heroes and Cadbury Dairy Milk tablets, especially around mini seasons.

    Lipstick effect is on the rise. Savvy shoppers wanting to treat themselves and their friends and family are likely to turn to chocolate and confectionery treats.

    Hague from Hancocks advices retailers to consider improving their value offering in stores.

    “This means stocking up on price-marked packs as well as product lines offering great size and value for money,” she says.

    Display tips

    Hague from Hancocks vouches for well-curated presentation and display.

    “In-store presentation is important to help maximise sales. When it comes to merchandising chocolate and sugar confectionery ranges, we are encouraging retailers to focus on attractive POS and group together their seasonal lines or special offers to create eye-catching displays.

    “To provide easy navigation to the displays, it’s recommended to position them at the end of the aisles. Impulse-buy treats should be placed near the tills to boost unplanned purchases,” Hague tells Asian Trader.

    Nash from Mondelez, “Our retailer website, Snack Display has category tutorials that are perfect for new starters who would like to get to grips with their ranges, and category display pages for any staff who have designated areas of the store to look after and want a quick and easy reference point.

    “Retailers are often pressed for time, so within our ‘tools’ page we provide useful resources that can provide a helping hand. These include a quick reference best-seller list, resharable social media content, and a profit calculator. Point of Sale can be requested here, too.”

    Snacks continue to be important to consumers and shoppers as we face trying times, as they view their favourite snacks as affordable and necessary indulgences.

    Nash says, “Over the past year, we’ve continued to play a significant role in the snacking market with our strong portfolio of iconic and well-loved brands, as well as rolling out exciting innovations for shoppers to enjoy. We understand that shoppers are increasingly looking to enjoy evenings at home as a more cost-effective way to spend time together6 and so we continue to play into this occasion with sharing formats, multipacks and tablets.

    “We also know through challenging times; consumers often review their discretionary spending. However, they are less likely to reduce their spending on confectionery gifting. To help cater for this, over the past year we put a strong focus behind eye-catching sharing and gifting formats they’ll be able to enjoy together or use as presents.”

    Sweet Spring Sensations: Must-stocks, new launches, display tips
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    Effective display and merchandising play a crucial role in enticing customers and driving sales.

    Spokesperson of Sweetdreams Confectionery says, “Gaining discretionary space in convenience is a challenge but essential to ensure that your product stands out in a busy retail store. Investing in feature – gondola ends, wire baskets etc is important, alongside looking at more disruptive ways to alert the shopper, for example dump bins, shelf wobblers.

    “Personalized service and curated selections differentiate independent retailers, while grab-and-go options cater to convenience store shoppers’ on-the-go lifestyles and impulse buying behaviour.”

    Impulse purchases account for around 43 per cent share of the market, meaning that having packs that stand out at the point of purchase and catch the eye of the consumer is key.

    Clough from Mallow & Marsh says, “At Mallow & Marsh, we’ve recently unveiled a new brand refresh across our packaging, incorporating strong and consistent colours and branding, to aid in capturing the attention of shoppers.”

    Convenience shoppers also look out for packs.

    “At Mallow & Marsh, we understand that consumers need to be offered products that are suitable for a range of occasions. As a result, pack format is key to consumer decision-making. For convenience stores, consumers often look for practicality, and our mallow bars are the perfect size for a delicious treat and moment of ‘pause worthy pleasure’ when on the go.

    “Our sharing pouches also work brilliantly in convenience, ideal for customers popping in looking for a product that they can share with family and friends and that still satisfies every snacking craving. In fact, Mallow & Marsh’s sharing pouches are up 19.6% in convenience, while our portion-perfect mallow bars are growing by +32 per cent in convenience.”

    Stay Sweet

    Highlighting quality ingredients remains a key opportunity for chocolate brands to drive interest among gift buyers. In addition, chocolate and confectionery’s strong image as a good option as a gift compared to most other gifts will help buoy demand during the income squeeze.

    Whilst HFSS has impacted visibility and location of sugar confectionery in some stores, consumers still want to indulge with treats, and impulse purchases are crucial for sugar confectionery sales.

    Therefore, placing confectionery products in well-signposted areas, as well as areas of natural flow around the store, helps to encourage busy consumers to pick up products quickly on their way in or way out of store.

    As the seasons change and economic landscapes fluctuate, one thing remains constant- the enduring appeal of chocolates and confectionery. From Easter festivities to everyday indulgences, these sweet treats play a vital role in the lives of both consumers and retailers.

    Despite fluctuations in global cocoa prices and shifts in consumer spending habits, the resilience of the confectionery market speaks volumes about its enduring appeal.

    So, as the sun shines brighter and the days grow longer, remember to stock up on these irresistible treats to ensure your springtime adventures are as sweet as can be!

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