The Big Night In consumer concept has been here for several decades, since the days when local retailers offered video rentals along with all manner of impulse products to add to the experience.

In 2019 videos are history but the surging popularity of blockbuster TV dramas through Netflix and the impact of smartphones and tablets means we’re hooked on binge-watching nights in, occurring more frequently throughout the week and offering the perfect moment to relax and unwind with our favourite treats, which for millions of us means crisps, snacks and nuts.

Bagged snacks are now a £3 billion category in the UK, says Andy Riddle, KP Snacks’ Sales Director, with 3.5 billion consumption occasions, a significant part of which is Big Night In. Now part of Intersnack, KP Snacks has been at the forefront of the UK snacks category for decades and remains a UK-centric business, with a unique understanding of the consumers and the trade.

The UK bagged snack category is outperforming other impulse categories, growing 5% last year. KP’s MAT growth was 7.2% and the company continues to drive the category, with a broad portfolio featuring McCoy’s, Hula Hoops, KP Nuts, Butterkist popcorn, Tyrrells and Popchips and other much loved snack brands including NikNaks, Discos and Space Raiders McCoy’s, the UK’s number 1 ridged crisp, is worth £125 million and Britain’s fourth biggest snack brand. In its biggest launch for six years KP has just launched McCoy’s Muchos, a distinctive crescent-shaped folded tortilla crisp, in three feisty Mexican flavours. Backed by a £4m spend the launch taps into the growing popularity of the Mexican food trend, with Mexican now the fourth largest takeaway cuisine in the UK and a 71% growth in Mexican restaurants in 2017.

In other recent NPD, KP Nuts launched new KP Sharing Nut Mixes in June 2018 to add to its successful onthe- go range. The KP Snacks portfolio also features 23 products that are 100 calories or fewer per pack including POM-BEAR, Hula Hoops Puft, Skips and Space Raiders. KP’s existing products are already 83% free from artificial flavours, 98% free from artificial sweeteners and 100% free from artificial colours.

When it comes to big nights in, the weather’s impact on our shopping habits is huge,” says Matt Collins, KP Snacks’ Sales Director for Convenience, Wholesale, Discounters & Foodservice “especially within the convenience format store sector, which benefits strongly from unplanned purchases. With the warmer months calling for an increase in social gatherings, neighbourhood retailers can tap into this sales opportunity by stocking up on the essentials for last minute get togethers.”

Biscuits are another key product category for big nights in. Fox’s Biscuits MD David Cox says Fox’s research reveals this kind of everyday indulgence is growing in popularity, with 28% of shoppers treating themselves four times a week or more and 41% doing so during weekday evenings. As part of our binge watching we are consuming more indulgent biscuits, but at the same time being more cautious about what we eat:

“Biscuits’ role in snacking has changed as increasing numbers of consumers swop crisps and chocolate bars for lower calorie options such as biscuits, which average 113 calories per biscuit versus 230 calories in a 42g bar of chocolate.”

With treating and snacking the most common biscuit eating occasions, in 2018 Fox’s Biscuits launched Fox’s Chocolatey Squares, allowing consumers to enjoy luxury biscuits in a single go or one square at a time. Fox’s Fabulously and Fox’s Chocolatey Tin Selection box ranges also cater to everyday indulgence and gifting occasions.

Some Like It Light

Big Nights In don’t always have to be boozy, says Rob Salvesen, Head of Marketing at Kopparberg, the Swedish fruit cider makers. As we start the New Year Kopparberg are shaking up the drinks scene with new Balans Aqua Spritz, an alcohol-infused sparkling water with a hint of fruit taste. Light and naturally flavoured, Balans Aqua Spritz is available in two refreshing flavours, Mandarin and Lime – and comes packaged in a ready to drink 250ml can with less than 60 calories a can, naturally flavoured, vegan friendly and gluten free.

Rob Salvesen continues: “People see social occasions where they might want to have a drink as an important part of their lives but often, drinks choices can be limiting! Balans is refreshing, light in taste, and is currently the lowest calorie 4% ABV drink of its kind available in its current 250ml serve.

Bring it on home

“Consumers are remaining cautious about overspending,” says Scott Bayliss, Channel Director at Molson Coors, “and for many of us a big night in is a great way to relax or socialise at home and save money.”

The volume of beer purchased in the Off-trade overtook the figure for the Ontrade for the first time ever in 2014, reflecting a shift in consumer trends that has continued since then. Last year there were 30 million more occasions when drinkers considered staying at home, compared to 2010.

“When it comes to tipples for the big occasion-driven night in, consumers want the variety of drinks they would expect from a pub or bar. But for a more low-key get together, drinkers tend to opt for familiar favourites, such as beers that go well with popular take-away food. So it’s important to attract consumers by stocking a good balance of options that meet a broad range of ‘at-home’ occasions, from familiar favourites like Carling to more premium and inspiring choices like a Rekorderlig Botanicals Rhubarb- Lemon-Mint.

Healthier Snacking Choices Are Key to Big Night In Success, says Paul Wheeldon, Channel Controller at Eat Real: “Staying in with good friends and a great selection of food and drink treats is increasingly the new ‘going out’ but new research suggests consumers are increasingly rejecting traditionally indulgent sweet and fatty items in preference for healthier snacks.

For many years, confectionery, crisps and soft drinks have been the staples of a Big Night In and are still very popular, but the trend towards healthier lifestyles coupled with a dramatic shift in shopping habits now mean that consumers, especially Millennials and Generation Z, are leading the charge towards Big Night In 2.0. Time poor, more informed and more likely to snack frequently than previous generations, they’re opting for more natural snacks with more diverse flavours and obvious health benefits.

The dramatic rise in veganism and a general move amongst consumers towards a plant-based diet, coupled with the increased demand for allergen-free food, now means that manufacturers like Eat Real are responding to this demand with a whole raft of greattasting, healthier snacks suitable for both at home and on-the-go snacking.

According to new research, 41% of shoppers are looking for snacks with less sugar, 39% seek out snacks that are low in fat and 41% want snacks that provide energy or help them refuel. 40% of shoppers also expect to pay a premium for healthy snacks.

Also responding to increased demand for healthier snacks, Cofresh – the UK’s No 1 Indian snack brand – has recently introduced a lighter version of its popular potato-based ‘Grills’ range, containing 30% less fat, they are an ideal healthier option for those who want a little more heat from their Big Night In snacks!

Before Big Nights In became a ‘thing,’ hot milk drinks have been a relaxing treat at the end of the day for generations. Bringing the story up to date iconic British brand Horlicks, a family favourite with 99% loyalty among current consumers, has recently unveiled new improved Horlicks Instant Light Chocolate, rewarding long time fans with a more indulgent taste experience.

Michelle Younger, Marketing Manager at Aimia Foods explains: “Our new improved Horlicks Instant Light Chocolate builds on our unique malty taste heritage, with greater appeal to chocolate lovers, particularly families with children who are keen to explore healthier alternatives to hot chocolate. As consumers are choosing to stay at home and enjoy a big night in with their favourite food and drink, we want to remind people to relax and enjoy these moments with a delicious mug of Horlicks. Shoppers can choose from our Traditional Horlicks and Horlicks Light Instant, famed for their unique malty taste or opt for a more indulgent experience with new improved Horlicks Instant Light Chocolate.”

Horlicks pack 14 key vitamins and minerals into every serving, bursting with goodness and rich in calcium, vitamins D, A and C.

A ‘Big Night’ in the New Forest

As we approach the cold winter nights after the buzz of Christmas, says Christina Veal, Director at New Forest Ice Cream, Big Nights In become increasingly appealing. Whether entertaining friends and family on a Friday night, or watching a football match on TV, Big Night In sales are higher than ever during this period as customers stay at home following the festivities and crave comfort.

It’s important for retailers to provide their customers with the complete ‘Big Night In’ experience: snacks, mains, drinks and desserts! Having these together in one dedicated area will ensure everything is to hand, whilst encouraging multi-purchases and upping the overall spend.

Gamers, particularly teenage boys and young men, and people powering through a boxset on Netflix are key consumers for quick and easy snacks to keep them going on Big Nights In. Mike Benton is Head of Snacking at Symington’s, brand owners of Mug Shot, Naked Noodle, Naked Rice and ilumi:

“We’ve consistently found consumers are seeking products which offer authentic flavours and are convenient and filling. Naked Noodle is available in ten authentic pan-Asian flavours including Thai Green Curry and Beef Pho. With preparation under five minutes, it’s an excellent choice for a big night in.”

Naked Noodle sales are up 30% annually and the brand is now worth over £15m, commanding a 43% market share of the authentic pots category. Symington’s new Big Eat Noodle Pots are available in four varieties, Singapore, Green Thai, Mee Goreng and Chicken Penang, 33% bigger than standard pots. Symington’s Noodle Based Meal Soups replicate the noodle bar experience at home in two varieties, Hot & Sour and Laksa. Symington’s have also introduced microwavable Naked Soup pouches, made with delicious, fresh and authentic ingredients.

Options with low preparation times and minimal fuss can be extremely handy when watching the latest must see series. This trend has fuelled the growth of brands like Mug Shot The Big One, up +21% in the last year, and offering a tasty, convenient and guiltfree snack.

Rustlers, the UK’s No.1 microsnacking brand, is another offering that meets the demand for hot, tasty, convenient solutions as part of a Big Night In.

“For the Big Night In, consumers want food and drink that can be served quickly and conveniently and Rustlers fits the bill perfectly, providing a quick and tasty solution that takes only minutes to serve,” says Angela Daulby, UK Group Sales Director of Kepak Consumer Foods.

“Meal occasions shoppers buy chilled more than any other category instore. Alongside the fact they spend more than the average c-store shopper and have a bigger basket size than the average shopper, it highlights the importance the channel should place on chilled as part of the Big Night In occasion. By creating a ‘Big Night In’ display or using POS, outlets have an opportunity to drive basket size, spend and profits.”

“When it comes to treats for big nights in, consumers are looking for food products that deliver a rewarding experience,” says Siddhi Mehta, Rhythm 108 CEO. Rhythm108 are launching in Sainsbury’s Local stores nationwide with their award-winning Sweet ‘N’ Salty Almond and Hazelnut Praline Deeelicious Swiss Chocolate Bars. This announcement follows both bars, plus Rhythm 108’s Super Coconut Deeelicious Swiss Chocolate Bar, being successfully listed in the Free-From section of 306 Sainsbury’s branches.

There’s an increasing shift towards people looking for indulgent and delicious snacks to enjoy at home with family and friends, says Robert Strathern, founder of Fairfields Farm.

In 2017, Fairfield launched Heat & Eat, hot crisps with a dip to tap into the entertaining at home market. All Fairfields Farm crisps and other products are gluten free and many are vegan, including Ten Acre hand-cooked crisps and popcorn.

When entertaining at home, wine shoppers often look for something to impress their guests, says Toni Ingram, Head of Marketing for Pernod Ricard UK, with the reassurance that their purchase is good quality and will be well received. Trading up within wellknown brands is ideal, as shoppers have confidence in a wine brand they know and love which offers something a bit more special than their usual choice.

The award-winning Terroir Series Sauvignon Blanc from Brancott Estate, the UK’s number two New Zealand wine brand is the perfect product for Sauvignon Blanc fans and as the UK’s favourite wine style is a popular choice. Other Pernod Ricard wine brands include Jacob’s Creek and Campo Viejo, the UK’s biggest Spanish brand.

With the average night out costing around £55 per head, it is no surprise that the Big Night In is becoming a favoured occasion for younger consumers, who are now living at their family home for longer. Charlie Leaver, Brand Manager at Global Brands says over a quarter of 24-31 year olds now prefer to stay at home and socialise as opposed to going on a night out, as they perceive a night in to be more relaxing, as well as cheaper:

“The beginning of a new year is an especially crucial time for retailers to offer consumers an alternative to more expensive nights out.”

Also included in the VK range are 70cl bottles price marked at £2.49, including new VK Watermelon flavour. Charlie Leaver says 61% of consumers believe PMPs they offer better value for money, and 82% of consumers actively seeking them out when shopping.

Other stand out products from Global Brands include Corky’s, a 15% ABV schnapps perfect for single serves or made into fabulous cocktails. Made up of five mouth-watering flavours, including three edible glitter variants, Corky’s suits all tastes.

Another reason many consumers enjoy a Big Night In is due to convenience as well as affordability Global Brands’ legendary Hooch is a brand that embraces Big Nights In following the successful on pack offer rewarding customers with a free movie to host their own film nights at home. Over half of Hooch consumers prefer to drink at home, making this drink a must stock during Big Nights In.

Global Brands are also tapping into the demand for lower sugar products. Crooked Beverage Co’s three flavours, Midnight Stage, Dayglo Skies and Mother Moon, contain almost half the amount of sugar in popular fruit ciders per 100ml.

And finally, don’t forget the sweets. With the summer some distance away and shoppers still feeling the financial pinch from the festive season, Russell Tanner, marketing and category director at Tangerine Confectionery says it’s not surprising over half of British adults are choosing a night in over a night out.

“The confectionery market has benefited considerably from this trend and retailers would be wise to offer their customers a range of options, with sweets in shareable tubs, bags and cartons being especially popular for a Big Night In. Nostalgia has become one of the biggest drivers of the confectionery market as a whole and this is particularly relevant when targeting ‘Big Night In’ sales.

Consumers buying sweets to share with their family are often keen to purchase the sweets they loved when they were younger and introduce their children to their old favourites.

Mark Walker is Sales Director at Swizzels, the UK’s fastest growing sugar confectionery manufacturer and one of the few remaining British sugar confectionery manufacturers. Swizzels is the largest independent family-owned sugar confectionery business in the UK and continues to perform well in the confectionery market, with sales up +9% YOY.

With the second biggest branded player in the UK market, Mondel?z International is a leading contributor to the £1.2 billion UK candy market. One of the UK’s most loved candy brands, Maynards Bassetts, continuously innovates to bring new tastes and textures to the Big Night In market. Over the last 18 months, the brand has brought innovations and a host of new flavours to the sector with Gummies and Jellies, Wine Gums Mocktails, Jelly Babies Tropical, and Wine Gums Tangy.

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