With economic and political uncertainty in the air, shoppers and consumers are looking to cheer themselves up with little treats.
The biscuit category has seen shoppers buying more per trip and trading up to more premium, treatier options alongside their everyday favourites.
“We are lucky to have some of the nation’s best-loved, heritage biscuit brands in our portfolio, and they are benefiting from shoppers’ and consumers’ increasing desire to give themselves a little treat,” says Jo Harwood, Sales Director at Burton’s Biscuit Company. “As a result, many of our iconic biscuits grew ahead of the category, with everyday treats brands such as Jammie Dodgers seeing 7.7% growth, and our more premium sweet biscuit offering from Thomas Fudge’s growing over 21%.”
Burton’s is relaunching its popular Thomas Fudge’s Sicilian Lemon and White Chocolate Florentines. The relaunch will be backed by a ‘no time for mediocre’ campaign across social media and Waitrose stores in March, appealing to shoppers looking for an indulgent treat for themselves and others this Mother’s Day.
“Biscuits typically feature in most shoppers’ weekly shops, so we expect footfall down the main aisle will remain largely unaffected,” adds Harwood. “However, HFSS will undoubtedly impact impulse sales of biscuits. We predict the biggest impact will be felt from shoppers on a top up mission, popping in for a few items who may have previously picked up a pack on impulse when they see biscuits on a gondola end on promotion.
“Standout on shelf on the main fixture will become increasingly important in lieu of secondary sitings no longer available to the category, with impactful pack designs, SRP’s and POS key to achieving this alongside discount-led promotions.”
Burton’s best-selling brands include Maryland, the UK’s No.1 cookie brand worth over £50m and bought by 1 in 4 households in the UK (Nielsen).
Seeing over 7% growth in a declining category, Jammie Dodgers is a key brand in the Everyday Treat fixture, having further appeal and over indexing with families vs the rest of the Everyday Treat sector and Total Sweet Biscuits (Nielsen).
With 59% share of the branded shortbread market, Paterson’s is the established No.1 shortbread brand in the UK and has been for the last 13 years (Nielsen).
Bought by 1 in 6 households, and worth over £18m RSV, Wagon Wheels is the No.1 chocolate biscuit bar brand consumed by males (Kantar).
“The forthcoming HFSS marketing restrictions – and consequent loss of additional sightings and introductory promotions – mean that driving visibility and encouraging trial of NPD will prove tricky. But we all know that feeling of spotting an exciting new snack from our favourite brands on-shelf, so if a product is compelling enough, shoppers will still go out of their way to purchase it,” says Scott Snell, Vice President of Customer at pladis UK&I.
In fact, the removal of some off-shelf features provides a great opportunity to re-energise the biscuit fixture, engage shoppers and drive incremental sales. Pladis has been working closely with its retail partners to ensure the fixture becomes a more compelling area to shop, by introducing POS such as branded McVitie’s bays.
“The biscuit category remains important to shoppers seeking a little boost, whether that’s during an extra-special tea break, or as an evening treat on the sofa,” adds Snell. “With feelings of uncertainty around Covid-19 still underlying, we expect to see growth in slightly more indulgent propositions and special treats as shoppers seek out little pick-me-ups.”
Pladis recently launched McVitie’s Blissfuls, which sees a McVitie’s biscuit filled with a mouthwatering Belgian milk chocolate cream centre, flavoured with either hazelnut or caramel.
Noughties biscuit brand McVitie’s BN has also returned to the biscuit aisle. Mini BN biscuits contain just 35kcals each, while the full-sized biscuits contain just 85kcals each.
McVitie’s is worth £461M (Nielsen) – making it the number one biscuit brand in the UK – but it’s also purchased by 83.4% of households.
Lisa Manning, Category and Insight Manager at Border Biscuits, comments: “Economic challenges are on the horizon, and it is predicted that shoppers will be working towards much tighter budgets as we look ahead (Kantar). As we’ve seen with previous recessions, consumers may be looking to treat themselves with smaller, more affordable products at this time, for example by trading up on their weekly shop. With Border Biscuits, we can offer a premium product, at a reasonable price, that consumers can trust to deliver on taste and quality.”
Premium indulgence grew in importance during lockdown (Mintel). Many people reached for sweet treats to help them get through lockdown and biscuits provided that special treat as a boost to brighten their days. This paved the way for special brands like Border Biscuits as many opted for the more premium option to treat themselves.
“We know there will be further challenges in the months ahead, with health returning to the forefront of shopper’s minds and HFSS regulations upon us,” adds Manning. “HFSS is set to completely overhaul the biscuit category, but we still want to reassure retailers that there is huge opportunity for premium biscuits. We pride ourselves on producing great quality biscuits and would never want to remove the ingredients that make our products so enjoyable for consumers.” The pandemic spurred shoppers to look for comfort and escape in their food, with many trading up to more premium lines to treat themselves. As we return to some normality, consumers are still seeking indulgence but with a more balanced approach. Many are now choosing more carefully as they look for biscuits that are ‘worth the calories’ when they do indulge at home or in a café for example.
There’s no surprise then that the special treats sector is growing ahead of the everyday biscuits category as consumers trade up to make those special moments really matter (Nielsen).
Building on this renewed interest in health following the pandemic, increasingly shoppers are finding ways to increase self-care and wellness that go beyond restrictive diets or fitness regimes. There’s a real opportunity for brands to play a role in how they make the consumer feel – both physically and psychologically.
“Enjoying a cup of tea and a biscuit, creates a moment that matters, offering consumers a comforting break and time to themselves,” says Manning. “We expect this trend to continue as there is an increased emphasis around self-care and a more holistic view on health and what that means for individuals. Retailers should look to stock brands that cater to this trend of selfcare as people continue to look for more memorable products and experiences at home.”
Sustainability is top of the agenda for many shoppers, with many purchasing decisions affected by how sustainable a product claims to be (Kantar).
In 2019, Border Biscuits outlined its commitment to eliminate 90% of plastic from core retail packaging and was among the first in the sweet treats category to proactively change its packaging to achieve a positive environmental impact. This move will roll-out into 2022, where Border Biscuits will make further changes to this pact.
Border Biscuits is a big believer in giving back, and shares 20% of its profits between its employees and the local community. In 2020, Border donated over 150,000 biscuits to hospitals community hubs, food banks and care homes across the UK. In January 2021 Border donations to local community projects hit the £1m mark.
Chocolate remains a top flavour in the biscuit category as consumers seek indulgent variants. With many looking to ‘trade up’ to make their moment special, chocolate biscuits are perceived as a more indulgent option. As a result, the chocolate biscuit market is in growth, currently making up 12% of all sweet snacks and the third highest share in the biscuit category (Nielsen).
“Shoppers are also looking for trusted, well-known brands as they look for reassurance from their purchases – essentially, they want a biscuit that they know won’t disappoint. For retailers looking to increase profits, it’s important that they consider stocking a well-known quality brand to complement key consumption occasions, such as Border Biscuits,” Manning continues.
“Our biscuits complement those special occasions, with something memorable and indulgent to enjoy over a long-awaited catch up with friends or cherished time with family. In short, Border Biscuits provides retailers with an opportunity to trade up from ‘everyday’ biscuits, and in turn retailers can profit more from the sweet treat’s category.”
Border Biscuits has recently launched a selection of new products that continue to add growth to the category – including its new Luxury Chocolate Sharing pack. Designed to provide a premium chocolate biscuit offering for the sharing occasion with friends or family, it includes two brand new biscuit varieties in the form of Dark Chocolate Raspberry and Milk Chocolate Salted Caramel.
Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondelez International, comments: “Health and wellness have never been as important as they are now, after two years of facing the challenges brought on by the pandemic.”
Many consumers are placing an even higher focus on their wellbeing – whether that be physical, mental, or both – than ever before. In fact, 25% (IGD) of shoppers are more influenced by health when shopping than pre-pandemic, and the Healthier Biscuits segment is now worth over £556M (Nielsen), making it a key segment for grocers to tap into.
Healthier options remain important for consumers who are looking for healthier ingredients such as oats and other wholegrains – but won’t compromise on taste. BelVita, for example, is well placed to help grocers take advantage of these continued long- term trends as the UK’s number one healthier biscuit brand as defined by Nielsen, and the only biscuit range with proven slow-release carbohydrates.
“At Mondelez International we have a strong track record of offering more portion control options and developing lower sugar recipes for some of our most iconic brands, as part of our ongoing commitment to help tackle obesity and help consumers lead healthier lifestyles,” adds Nash. “We’re committed to meeting shoppers’ evolving needs, covering the full spectrum from nutrition to emotional wellbeing, through our wide range of products and formats.”
OREO – the world’s number one biscuit (Euromonitor)– has unveiled a new collaboration with the biggest superhero of all time to celebrate the release of the highly anticipated film, ‘The Batman’. This partnership sees an unmissable promotion rolling out across key OREO products both on-pack and off-pack as well as a unique Batman-embossed biscuit to drive excitement in store. To promote the limited-edition packs, a special build was created that showcased a huge 3D Batarang, in the same design as featured in the new film, dramatically embedded in a billboard after having split a massive 3D OREO cookie completely in two. The activation ran across sites in London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Glasgow to support the launch of the partnership.
Elsewhere, celebrated French biscuit brand, LU, is launching four delicious biscuit varieties in the UK. Le Petit Chocolate, Le Petit Beurre, Le Petit Biscotte, and Le Petit Citron will offer customers a quintessential taste of France to enjoy at home with friends and family.