Christmas Crackers Top tips for making the best of festive season sales

As Christmas approaches there’s plenty of advice on offer from the leading suppliers on how to make the best of the sales opportunity in store between now and December 25th. With so many categories to get right, there’s a lot of noise out there, but see beyond all that and what becomes clear is that the principles are ultimately broadly consistent:

Stock the right ranges for your size store, with strong selections of big brands and best-selling product lines, particularly those backed by pre- Christmas ad campaigns. Listen to suppliers’ category-specific guidance and lay out sections with signpost brands so shoppers can ‘read’ fixtures easily. Support fixtures with suppliers’ point of sale material. Allocate secondary displays in the aisles with self-standing sales units. Keep fixtures and secondary displays full and POS material looking good right through to Christmas Eve, for gifting products, taking advantage of suppliers with field sales teams on hand to help. And crucially, stay stocked right up to New Year in food and drink categories.

Matt Collins at KP Snacks also says retailers need to block similar type products together to make it easier for shoppers to find what they need, and encourage trial and boost crosscategory buying by having best-sellers in more than one site in high footfall areas. He points to the need to focus on the familiar:

“Stock the core range from each key supplier to cater for all consumer needs, as core products represent ninety-nine percent of sales at Christmas.”

Understanding Christmas bestsellers’ importance and activating them strongly in-store is imperative for driving incremental purchase. Placing products on promotion at Christmas is a great sales driver, with 24% of shoppers purchasing on deals. The effect is similar when products are shown as PMPs, which 33% of consumers perceive as cheaper than standard price. Retailers see the benefit too, with 83% recognising that PMPs sell faster than normal packs.

SHARING THE SNACK PROFITS

As the nights draw in and the festive season approaches, consumers look to make the most of their time with family and friends, and sharing occasions are on the rise. KP estimate there are a total of 1.7 billion sharing occasions to tap into, especially with snacking products. Sharing is the largest segment in the lead up to Christmas, growing +4.7% over the 2017 festive period. Crisps, snacks, and nuts were among the top performing categories last Christmas, with an £8 million boost (+3.7%) over the festive period.

Given the consumption peaks around Christmas, says Matt Collins, this is an important time to encourage trial buys and ultimately convert these sales into repeat purchases:

“It’s vital not to undervalue the importance of the Point of Purchase and achieving shelf standout. Studies show 82% of purchase decisions are made at the Point of purchase and disrupting the noise is key to achieving ‘cut through.’”

CHOCS AWAY WITH MONDELEZ

Shoppers are getting more and more excited about Christmas every year, Charlotte Parkes, Brand Manager at Mondelez, with total UK Christmas retail sales topping £44bn in 2017.

Confectionery is synonymous with the gift-giving traditions of Christmas. As one of the highest penetration categories seasonal chocolate and gifting present a fantastic opportunity for retailers to drive sales from October through November and December. From advent calendars to selection boxes, the Christmas category is versatile, highly incremental, and brings friends and family together across the nation. Seasonal chocolate sales can be optimised by getting the timing right:

1. Be prepared early, starting the countdown in October with self-treats

2. Continue the countdown into November, with advent calendars and novelty sharing lines.

3. In December make it clear that the ‘magic of Christmas’ has arrived in your store, by stocking selection boxes, Christmas themed gifts, family sharing lines and top-up gifts – these can replace advent products on 1st December.

Sharing occasions play a significant role in households at Christmas, as families and friends come together to celebrate throughout the season. Bags, tablets and sharing novelties are perfectly suited to this and add a sparkle of seasonal excitement to these sharing moments.

As nights draw in from September the sharing opportunity grows. ‘Themed gatherings’ build from October, offering retailers more opportunities to drive sales, with tubs and sharing bags playing a significant role. Seasonal ranges in convenience format stores depend on local needs and, crucially, the size of the store in question. Festive ranges require adaptation throughout the season to make the most of the opportunity.

TAP INTO SWEET NOSTALGIA…

Tangerine Confectionery’s offering includes festive sharing tubs and new formats of its most iconic brands. Tangerine Confectionery’s Russell Tanner, marketing and category director, says retailers need to tap into nostalgia at Christmas by highlighting the familiar in their confectionery selections:

“Parents look forward to making sweet memories with their children at Christmas, and nostalgia for their favourite brands is a key sales driver. Many consumers will be eager to indulge in the sweets they loved when they were younger, and introduce their favourites to their own children.”

XMAS TAKES THE BISCUIT

Seasonal biscuits are another category that presents a major profit opportunity for retailers at Christmas, growing well ahead of the total market, says Mandy Bobrowski, UK and Ireland Marketing Director at Burton’s Biscuit Company:

“It’s crucial that retailers maximise this opportunity by stocking a product range that appeals to the different occasions of home consumption, novelty and gifting. Merchandising by these key occasions will make life easier for shoppers, and enable retailers to capitalise on increased demand. Having sufficient stock on shelf when demand for biscuits is so strong also plays a key role in driving sales. Retailers can look forward to increased profits from the biscuit fixture this Christmas, helped by our fun, festive packs.”

Staying with biscuits, nostalgia is at the heart of pladis’s 2018 Christmas campaign, Merry Biscuits Everyone, which sees the launch of some brandnew seasonal products and a Christmassy makeover of sweet and savoury biscuit favourites. New giftable tin launches for Christmas 2018 from McVitie’s Jaffa Cake and and the return of the Jacob’s McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Digestives Post Box Tin tap into giftable tins’ enduring popularity.

CRACKING CHEESE

Cheese might seem an unlikely gifting category at Christmas, but it’s a growing one just the same. Wyke Farms has been producing award-winning cheddar for over 150 years and is one of the largest family-owned cheese makers in Britain, selling over 15,000 tonnes annually to over 160 countries. Its Ivy’s Mini Maturing Gift Box, made from sustainably-sourced oak, is a mini replica of the wooden boxes used to age the cheese in Wyke Farms’ Maturing Store.

The Christmas cheeseboard is another essential foodie tradition most families would not be without over the season, and retailers should keep their cheese chillers stocked through to New Year.

SPARKLING SOFT DRINKS SALES AT CHRISTMAS

When it comes to soft drinks at Christmas retailers should stock up on bestselling brands and make the most of seasonal POS, says Adrian Troy, Marketing Director at Barr Soft Drinks: “Soft drinks are a hugely important category in the run up to and during Christmas, with sales of £577m in 2017.

It’s crucial to get your range right, and stock up on those bestselling brands shoppers are looking for in both multipack and larger pack formats, to cater for family get-togethers and parties.”

Major lifestyle changes are happening across the UK, impacting on how soft drinks are consumed. Earlier this year Barr unveiled a new approach to managing the soft drinks fixture, focused on three key category growth drivers – Health & Wellbeing, Taste & Fun and Lifestyle & Culture. Barr’s blueprint for the future of soft drinks merchandising translates these drivers into six specific shopper need states which cover all major soft drinks consumption occasions.

The consumer need states retailers need to consider at Christmas are Everyday Enjoyment, the backbone of the fixture, with a good range of greattasting choices and Connecting Cultures, a vibrant section tapping into growing demand for exotic flavours.

AND FINALLY DON’T FORGET TO TREAT… YOURSELF!

A key part of the Christmas opportunity that often gets undervalued is treats for yourself and your friends and family, says Levi Boorer, Customer Development Director at Ferrero:

“As a leading confectionery manufacturer we believe it’s important to offer retailers products and ranges that help them cater for the different types of festive shopping needs, particularly self treating before the big day.”

Ferrero is launching an array of new products across its brands, addressing this opportunity. A classic example, Thortons Pearls are a luxurious boxed chocolate premium option aimed at 25- 34 year old women.

Over the last five years, Ferrero has achieved consecutive growth from self treating during the festive period. Last year saw Ferrero’s boxed portfolio up by +7.3%, greatly attributed, says Levi Boorer, to the Thorntons brand, which returned to double-digit growth.

Ferrero’s Novelties drove the biggest growth into the category at Christmas last year, led by Thorntons Figures and Thornton and Kinder Advent Calendars.