The festive season is here, the biggest occasion of the year for the confectionery category. Shoppers will be wanting both old familiar products and exciting new variants.

Wholesalers will be filling up their aisles with core lines and seasonal extensions.

Andy Edwards, Business Unit Controller, Ferrero UK, tells Wholesale Manager how depots can best merchandise the confectionery category during the festive season.

What advice do you have for wholesalers on merchandising their confectionery in the run-up to Christmas?

We recommend utilising signposting in depot to draw retailers’ attention to any festive deals or offerings. Christmas is a busy period in-store, so they will want their in-depot experience to be as quick and efficient as possible. When it comes to front-of-depot or aisle-end displays, wholesalers can maximise the opportunity by focusing on a core range of trusted brands, including Ferrero Rocher. By supporting the core lines with seasonal extensions, retailers will be encouraged to try the new products, making the in-depot experience more interactive.

How important is innovation and NPD to the confectionery category during the festive season?

During the festive season shoppers are looking for new products to try, particularly within the confines of well-known brands as they are names they can trust so it’s key that wholesalers provide retailers with the tools to excite shoppers such as our Ferrero Grand Rocher Dark or our Thorntons novelty figures. In the weeks leading up to Christmas Day, shoppers will be on the lookout for larger gifts and boxes of chocolates. We have developed our seasonal range across Kinder, Ferrero Rocher and Thorntons to provide both individual treats and sharing formats to meet shopper demand for all occasions. A strong core range also has a key role to play and although it may be available all year round, our Ferrero Rocher and Thorntons range make great gifts during seasonal occasions too. We’ve also recently rolled out our new Ferrero Rocher Tablet Bars and Thorntons Pearls, which will give shoppers even more choice within the premium chocolate segment when it comes to me-time moments and sharing with friends and family.

Does innovation need to be balanced by a strong focus on the core range?

A core range, particularly following the pandemic, is key, as shoppers turned to the brands that they know and love. Retailers will be looking for well-known and loved brands in-depot to bolster their fixtures, particularly around seasonal occasions such as Christmas when their shoppers will be gifting and entertaining loved ones. Core boxed chocolate such as Thorntons and Ferrero Rocher allows retailers to do this whilst saving shelf space and being cost effective due to the products relevance after the occasion.

How much was the Christmas confectionery market worth in 2020?

In 2020, Christmas confectionery was worth over £740.6m, showcasing the scale of the opportunity in the build up to, and during, the festivities. The pandemic caused uncertainty for consumers and retailers, as they headed towards the festive season. Retailers saw 47% of shoppers start their grocery shopping earlier due to Covid-19, with only 15% planning to wait until December. Grocery and convenience stores saw the strongest Christmas growth in take-home grocery, with sales growing by +11.7% in comparison to previous years. We saw that people were avoiding visits to multiple shops and aimed to pick everything they needed from one store, which increased typical ‘big Christmas shop’ spend. At the same time, 23% of British households shopped online last December as a way to reduce trips to physical stores completely.

Given that last Christmas was during the pandemic was this an unusual year for the market? Did the pandemic cause people spend more on confectionery?

The confectionery category saw substantial changes over the last Christmas period. Through restrictions changing and a reduced number of group celebrations, this led to fewer opportunities for people to buy into the sharing category, however, main gifting occasions brought in an additional +£5.6m retail sales value across our portfolio and shoppers continued to look to premium brands, such as Ferrero Rocher, to mark the festive season. Christmas 2021 is looking to be more promising than the last, with many people eager to celebrate with loved ones.

How much is the premium chocolate category worth? Is the category in growth? What is driving the growth?

Premium chocolate has a 15% value share of the total market, worth £123M. In the last year, it has increased +6.3%, and compared to 2019 (pre-pandemic) it has increased +22% which can be largely attributed to consumers making up for missed experiences.

Halzenut and Caramel & Sea Salt were the flavours that added the most value to the premium category (£6.1M), paving the way for products such as Thorntons Pearls which we launched earlier this year. Available in two deliciously premium flavours – Hazelnut Delight and Salted Caramel Sensation – the range offers shoppers the perfect treat to enjoy while sharing moments of delight with loved ones.

Following a successful year for the brand, Thorntons has also returned to TV screens with a new creative for the first time in four years, as part of a £3.6m campaign. The advert aims to reignite shoppers’ emotional connection with the brand and drive awareness of the Thorntons portfolio in the lead up to Christmas, a key sales period for boxed chocolates.

How have Ferrero Rocher Tablet Bars been performing so far?

Earlier this year we brought Ferrero Rocher’s iconic taste and premium credentials to the UK chocolate tablets segment for the first time – a segment worth £817M within the total market. Available in a 90g tablet bar with three delicious chocolate varieties to choose from: white chocolate, milk chocolate and a dark chocolate variety, we supported the launch with a £2.55m campaign. Most recently, in the latest 12-week period, Ferrero Rocher Tablets is gaining significant value share in the premium segment and is currently within the top three premium tablets, powered by a well-known and instantly recognisable brand.


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