Easter is the second biggest seasonal event in the convenience market after Christmas. Covid-19 had a significant impact on Easter sales this year costing the retail industry millions of pounds in lost revenue.

Right now, Easter 2021 is predicted to be a big event and gives wholesalers the opportunity to recover some of those lost sales. The uncertainty of Covid-19 means that unless the situation changes, families will be staying together and celebrating at home which means consumers will be looking for their Easter favourites and looking to treat themselves with one or two extra luxury products from their local stores.

Levi Boorer, Customer Development Director at Ferrero UK & Ireland, comments: “It’s important that retailers cater for each of the spring occasions individually, creating a tailored approach to merchandising and displays in-store. We recommend showcasing the event up to three to four weeks before it takes place, as although the majority of sales comes through in the week running up to an occasion, this provides enough time to generate interest and highlight to regular shoppers the range you have to offer.”

Valentine’s Day products can be promoted up to three weeks in advance, but Ferrero recommends ramping up the in-store activity during the final week to appeal to those last-minute shoppers.

78% of UK households buy into Valentine’s food and drink (Kantar), so it’s important to offer a range of products that inspire shoppers, offering them everything they need for a special meal at home.

“In the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, stocking premium chocolate brands alongside cards, flowers and wine will help boost cross category sales and basket spend,” adds Boorer. “These core categories are key to a good spring performance, so retailers should look to position these products close together as part of a seasonal display or link through promotional deals in order to see the greatest uplift of sales.”

With Valentine’s Day 2021 taking place on a Sunday, Ferrero is expecting to see many shoppers turn to the convenience channel for last-minute gifts due to Sunday trading hours. “Retailers should therefore ensure their displays are kept fully stocked and appealing, to win a share of trade on this day to compete with the multiples,” suggests Boorer.

Similarly to Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, which falls on March 14, marks a great opportunity for retailers to increase shopper basket with a cross-category promotion. Shoppers typically look for similar gifts at Mother’s Day each year, so it’s important to have a focal display in-store where shoppers can purchase multiple categories conveniently.

Mother’s Day is also an opportunity to encourage shoppers to move from more mainstream brands to premium offerings. Despite the disruption to the occasion last year, shoppers moved towards the Ferrero Rocher and Ferrero Collection ranges, which grew by +3% and +15% (Nielsen), demonstrating the demand for premium products.

Easter will be on April 4 in 2021.

“For Easter, retailers should focus on seasonal sharing and self-treat products in-store during February, with items like our Thorntons Bunny 29g, Ferrero Mini Eggs Hazelnut/Cocoa 100g or Kinder Joy 20g, thereby encouraging shoppers to buy into the season early and continue doing so throughout the whole of Easter,” advises Boorer. “Six weeks from Easter, retailers should start stocking the smaller eggs and chocolate models.”

These token and novelty gifts become more of a priority to shoppers in this period, with some also re-purchasing these products again before the big day.

Wholesalers and retailers are advised to stock Easter eggs of all sizes a month before the main event, serving as a reminder and driving excitement in-store.

Gifting occasions at Easter looked very different this year, particularly as the occasions fell earlier on during lockdown while family gatherings were being cancelled.

It is unclear how Spring 2021 will look, but shoppers will still be looking for the high-quality products or gifts to treat loved ones.

“Larger stores should therefore offer a broader range of premium Easter eggs to encourage people to trade up and spend that little bit extra,” continues Boorer. “For example, we are increasingly seeing our Kinder 220g egg being given as a main present, as it provides shoppers with a larger toy, offering more value. Stores with limited space should instead look to dial up the sharing and self-treat options, catering to shoppers who are more impulsive and more likely to repeat purchase throughout the season.”

Premium boxed confectionery will continue to play an important role in driving seasonal sales, so it’s important that the right pack formats are offered to suit their shopper’s mission and basket size. For example, Ferrero Rocher 300g and Thorntons Classic 262g are ideal offerings that make it easier for shoppers to switch to these premium brands that will help drive bigger basket sales for retailers.

“We also know that shoppers are willing to pay more for a brand that they have an emotional connection to,” says Boorer. “As the fourth biggest children’s confectionery brand in Easter (Nielsen), we know that our range of Kinder eggs are popular with families because of the fun and excitement we bring to the category with our multiple licences.”

This year, the Kinder Surprise 100g will see hugely popular Marvel heroes and Disney Princesses included as part of a mixed case, with the well-known characters included on-pack and as toys within.

The larger Kinder Surprise 220g eggs, which grew +47% (Nielsen) during Easter 2020, will receive a Minions update to celebrate the launch of “Minions 2: The Rise of Gru”, out next summer.

Sophia Padt, Senior Brand Manager – Easter at Mars Wrigley, comments: “Though it’s hard to anticipate the challenges that may lie ahead for the spring season, what we do know is that this time of year presents a number of important moments to connect. As we approach Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and, of course, Easter – 2021 is shaping up to be more special than ever!”

Economic uncertainty brought on by the global pandemic means people may be less inclined to spend big due to financial concerns.

Mars Wrigley UK has tailored its 2021 Easter portfolio to help retailers target shoppers with multiple intentions and budgets, ensuring there is something special for everyone throughout the season.

2021 will see the return of seasonal favourites, new products and a national campaign.

“Easter 2021 will be eight days shorter than 2020, therefore it is important for retailers to have a relevant and prioritised product range throughout the period in order to maximise sales and ensure success,” says Padt.

In the early months, people seek a little treat to beat the winter blues – enough so that this period drives 30% of the category’s total sales across the season (Kantar). While shoppers aren’t thinking about Easter day just yet, new and exciting seasonal products can encourage permissible and impulsive treating.

Mars Wrigley will be focussing on its biggest Easter brands this year – Maltesers and Galaxy – to help drive sales and boost category growth in the lead up to Easter 2021.

The UK’s second most popular single treat, Maltesers Bunny, grossed £36m (Nielsen) in sales in 2019.

With orange chocolate having grown +20% in the last two years (Nielsen), Maltesers Bunny, the second most popular self-eat treat during the Easter season (Kantar), is introducing a new orange flavour.

In 2021 Maltesers will launch a national campaign offering shoppers the chance to ‘find the bunny and win the money”, with £5000 and 100s of other prizes up for grabs.

Small sharing and novelty confectionery make up as much as 40% (Kantar) of early season Easter sales, with 50% of shoppers consuming these small sharing items as self-treats regardless of sharing format (Kantar). Rose-gold treats Galaxy Enchanted Eggs, launched last year as a refreshed take on Galaxy Golden Eggs, return this year.

Also hitting shelves this Easter are Galaxy Caramel Mini Eggs.

Alongside Easter, the February to April months also bring about key mini-seasons and festivities such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Ramadan. This year the opportunity to connect was disrupted due to lockdown restrictions, impacting retailers and shoppers alike. Although it’s not clear what this season will look like in 2021, moments to celebrate and show appreciation for loved ones will be more important than ever. It will be essential to offer a product range suitable for gifting at this time of year.

“In previous times of economic uncertainty, we’ve seen that consumers typically turn to mainstream brands they know and trust,” comments Padt. “Having a range of products that hit at the right price points from popular Mars Wrigley brands will be key in giving consumers choice and opening the opportunity for trade up.”

Mars Wrigley UK’s core range across the Maltesers and Celebrations brands make ideal gifts.

Following the success of Maltesers Truffles Mars Wrigley took the premium format to the number two chocolate brand in the UK – Galaxy. 64.4% of Truffles buyers were new to the boxed category during Valentines 2020 (Kantar).

In the four weeks to Easter Day we move into the late season where purchases are often planned and intended to fulfil an Easter ritual such as egg hunts, baking and gifting. The late season accounts for 70% of total Easter confectionery sales (Kantar), therefore retailers ought to be well prepared to cater to shopper intentions as a means of maximising opportunity.

“However, for Easter 2021 we expect these rituals to evolve,” adds Padt. “With fewer social gatherings to exchange gifting, we predict seeing more egg hunt events hosted at home and Easter activities such as baking and crafting becoming more popular. We also anticipate retailers will feel the impact of footfall instore due to the uncertainty of social distancing restrictions.”

Out of all seasonal products, Easter eggs are especially relevant for gifting, the largest and most traditional ritual of the Easter celebration. 2021 will see the return of the Maltesers Truffles Luxury Egg, a top 10 NPD for 2019, alongside the Galaxy Truffles Luxury Egg, both of which will be available at an RRP of £11.99.

2021 will also see the return of Mars Wrigley’s most popular large eggs – the Galaxy Enchanted Eggs Large Egg which feature rose gold mini eggs within and the M&M’s Crispy Large Egg, which is now available market wide, RRP £5.29.

Fresh for 2021 will be a new design on some of the Galaxy range.

With Maltesers the UK’s third most popular chocolate brand (Nielsen), Mars Wrigley UK will return Maltesers Easter Mix alongside the Celebrations Easter Mix. Both packs are available at RRP £4.99.

New for 2021 are Maltesers Easter Hunt Mix and Galaxy Easter Hunt Mix packs, each offering an assortment of treats within, perfect for entertaining the family and providing variety to the Easter hunt.

With lockdown encouraging more time in the kitchen and bringing more families together, home baking has become even more popular in the UK: 30% are cooking or baking more than they did before lockdown (Kantar) and more widely 60% of shoppers enjoy baking (Kantar).

To cater for this ritual, Mars Wrigley UK will return its ‘more to bake’ Galaxy Enchanted Eggs in the 175g large pouch formats at an RRP of £2.79.

Susan Nash, Communication Manager at Mondelez International, comments: “Timing is particularly important next year as Easter Sunday falls on 4 April, making the season over a week shorter than last year. This means retailers should stock up on Easter products from the get-go to maximise the opportunity. As well as this, over half of Easter confectionery is consumed before Easter, strengthening how capturing consumers right at the beginning of the season is a great opportunity to drive spend and impulsivity in-store.”

Cadbury Creme Egg will be inviting shoppers to celebrate 50 years of the brand, as it hits its golden anniversary. This will be celebrated with a new in-store promotion from December 26, designed at challenging shoppers to unwrap the shiny ‘Golden Goobilee Creme Egg’ in their local store and having the chance to win the grand jackpot of £5K. As well as this, there are additional smaller cash-prizes up for grabs, maximising the opportunity to win.

When a shopper wins, so too does the store. Independent retailers also have the chance to win a variety of cash-prizes or Amazon vouchers, up to £1000, with 30 golden eggs hidden within the convenience channel. To participate, retailers must use Cadbury promotional display material.

The new ’Golden Goobilee’ campaign will be supported by digital, OOH and surprising PR activities to drive excitement throughout the Easter season. The brand will also be rolling out a celebratory new retro pack design to grab shoppers’ attention in store and alert them to the occasion.

As well as returning favourites, including treatsize, bags and multipacks, Cadbury Mini Eggs will be adding a new member to the portfolio for 2021 – the Cadbury Mini Eggs Tablet. The new 110g bar will be available in cases of 20 at an RRP of £1.49.

Cadbury Mini Eggs will be supported by a brand-new suite of POS material as well as a new pack design across the products.

Mark Walker, Sales Director at Swizzels, said: ‘‘Easter is a key sales period for confectionery, and Easter week is the number one week in the total confectionery calendar, with sales of £190m, so it’s important for wholesalers to maximise the opportunity by stocking a range of value products from best-selling brands to entice retailers looking to boost their seasonal offering.”

Swizzels expanded the Squashies range with seasonal variant DrumChick Squashies which are returning for Easter 2021. These limited edition Squashies come in chick shapes for Easter fun, with an orange and pineapple flavour, and are ideal for driving impulse sales of themed sharing bags in the lead up to and throughout the season.

Back for Easter 2021 is the Spring Selection variety bag, containing a selection of Swizzels’ best-loved brands which is perfect for Easter hunts.

Swizzels’ Spring Mix offers the perfect gift for sweet lovers at Easter, as it includes a variety of Swizzels favourites including Drumstick Squashies, Parma Violets and Love Hearts. This Easter-themed pouch is filled with a selection of 40 individually wrapped sweets from Swizzels, making it ideal for Easter hunts or parties too.

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