Christmas is the perfect time to come together to celebrate with family and friends, this year more so than ever after 2020’s festive season restrictions.

Brits spent a record-breaking £12 billion in the grocery channel during the four weeks to December 26 last year, with wine and spirits the fastest growing category overall (Nielsen).

This year, we will expect to see shoppers wanting to treat themselves to make the occasion that bit more special.

As such, the wholesale channel should maintain steady supplies of premium lines well ahead of Christmas to meet this anticipated demand – starting with the wine and spirits category, which is proven to thrive at this time of year.

Prosecco is a big seller over the festive season. In 2019, one in every four bottles of Prosecco in the UK Off-Trade was sold during the eight-week run up to Christmas (Nielsen).

“With consumers looking to add sparkle to their festive celebrations, wholesalers should encourage their customers to opt for premium sparkling drinks this year,” comments Sandra Brunet, Marketing Director, Campari Group UK. “This should not be limited to the traditional Prosecco or Champagne offerings, but expanded to include exciting ways to elevate sparkling wines – such as by adding Aperol or other flavoured liqueurs.”

The Aperol Spritz is the perfect way to invite consumers to enjoy Prosecco in an alternative way – combining three parts of Prosecco with two parts of Aperol, one part of soda water, and a slice of orange for garnish, to create a simple but iconic serve. This classic ‘build-in-the-glass’ cocktail adds a touch of elegance to any festive celebration.

It also presents a great opportunity for retailers to help shoppers premiumise their Prosecco moment this Christmas by enjoying one of the best-selling cocktails in the UK, and the best-selling branded cocktail in the world (CGA).

“Wholesalers can add further value by encouraging their customers to merchandise Aperol alongside soda and oranges in-store, to help increase basket spend by creating a convenient cocktail shopping experience,” adds Brunet.

We have seen shoppers become more adventurous with their drink choices with spikes in cocktail searches last year, as 39% looked to try different alcoholic drinks (Kantar).

The Negroni is a cult classic on cocktail menus worldwide, and a great cocktail to give Christmas moments at-home that little bit more special.

To ramp up the Christmas spirit, Campari has published a recipe for a Hot Mulled Negroni for consumers to enjoy on cold winter evenings.

“With 42% of consumers looking to be inspired in-store at Christmas through recipe ideas (IDG), retailers should consider displaying all the ingredients for the perfect Hot Mulled Negroni together – combining seasonal staples such as oranges, red wine and gin,” says Brunet. “To make the most of the festive opportunity, wholesalers should look to group seasonal favourites together, helping their customers to easily identify complementary product lines.”

Christmas is a chance for consumers to premiumise their at-home experiences and use more expensive, ‘treat’ purchases to differentiate the season from any other time of the year.

Rum is a growing category, recording +11.5% growth YOY (Nielsen) in 2020 – and as consumer demand for high quality rums grows, retailers have the opportunity to position premium rums as a must-have this Christmas.

“Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum should form a core part of wholesalers’ rum offering in the run up to Christmas, due to its broad, top-quality range,” suggests Brunet.

With a focus on minimum ageing – just as whisky drinkers have become accustomed to – Appleton Estate offers an 8 Year Old, 12 Year Old and 15 Year Old rum, offering drinkers the highest calibre expression of Jamaica rum.

Ideal for sipping, Appleton Estate rums can also be used to bring a taste of Jamaica to Christmas cocktails. The Mai Tai, for example, is a great option for a more sophisticated homemade cocktail this Christmas – a relatively simple mix that creates an instantly premium feel.

A combination of Appleton Estate 8 Year Old Reserve Jamaica rum, Grand Marnier, almond syrup and fresh lime juice – the Mai Tai invites retailers to capitalise on the growing market for making simple, limited ingredient cocktails.

“The wholesale channel should look to educate its customers by noting that the trend towards cocktails can help to drive in-store spend, encouraging customers to add new product lines in preparation for festive celebrations,” Brunet recommends.

“Wholesalers should also look to help retailers to clearly identify the business opportunity for cocktails by suggesting product bundles that will inspire shoppers this Christmas. For example, offering retailers a Mai Tai or Aperol Spritz bundle, with the key ingredients available for a set price, invites them to opt for a simple bundle rather than four individual product lines.”

Kevin Fawell, Off-Trade Sales Director at Molson Coors Beverage Company, comments: “After a disrupted Christmas period in 2020, families will be excited to tuck into their turkey together and enjoy all the trimmings that come with the festive period, including parties and cosy nights in.”

Beers, wines and spirits continue to perform ahead of the wider grocery category, increasing in value by 12%, with both lager and ale in significant growth (IRI).

“One-fifth (18%) of UK adults would prefer to enjoy a beer alongside their Christmas dinner, so stocking up on favourites such as Carling, Coors and Doom Bar can help to drive sales. It’s also a time for treating yourself to something extra special, so consider how you can cater to those looking for more premium drinks with options including Aspall Cyder and Blue Moon Mango Wheat,” adds Fawell.

“It’s important for wholesalers to ensure they are catering for different tastes and occasions, from single bottles and small packs for those enjoying a relaxed evening in, to mid-to-large multipacks for those planning a gathering with a few friends or big social occasions.”

“We know that low-and-no alcohol options increase in popularity over the Christmas period among designated drivers, or simply those looking to moderate their drinking during a busy social time,” says Fawell. “As such, wholesalers should make sure they pay attention to their low and no options and create a distinct area in their store to highlight their range.”

Molson Coors offer low-and-no options across lager, cider and ale, including Doom Bar Zero, the UK’s first 0.0% amber ale, Cobra Zero, Bavaria 0.0% and Rekorderlig Alcohol Free.

Doom Bar Zero is the UK’s first widely available 0.0% ABV amber ale, providing a real point of difference for those looking for new low and no options to try. The expert brewing team at Sharp’s worked on the recipe for more than two years and have developed a pioneering brewing method that ensures Doom Bar Zero retains a similar flavour profile and stays true to the style of the successful Doom Bar brand while achieving 0.0% alcohol – significantly more difficult to brew than 0.5%.

“The flavoured cider category continues to evolve in line with new trends and changing consumer tastes,” Fawell continues. “For example, we’ve recently seen a shift towards more refreshing flavoured options. To help wholesalers capitalise on this, we launched Rekorderlig Pink Lemon in March. It has a light, crisp citrus flavour with a hint of raspberry, reminiscent of a pink lemonade.”

Wholesalers should also look for any festive flavour options, like Rekorderlig Spiced Plum, with warming winter spices that make it perfect for a winter evening.

Flavour variety isn’t just limited to cider; beer is seeing more innovation. Last year Molson Coors launched Blue Moon Mango Wheat into the UK off-trade, which has a distinct ripe mango flavour and aroma, balanced with a light biscuit maltiness and hints of honey sweetness.

In 2020 the ready-to-drink category was the fastest growing in alcohol globally (ISWR) and has continued to perform well in the UK, with more consumers looking for exciting new flavours and more premium choices they can grab and enjoy at home.

Molson Coors has teamed up with Miami Cocktail Company to roll-out their range of award-winning, hand-crafted organic cocktails in the UK. The range – which includes Margarita Spritz, Paloma Spritz, Mimosa Spritz, Sangria Spritz and Bellini Spritz – is crafted with only premium organic ingredients, and each 250ml can contains 110 calories.

Hard seltzer sales have already reached £10million in the UK, increasing in value more than eight-fold in the space of twelve months (IRI).

Molson Coors expanded its presence in the category earlier this year by launching Three Fold, a new brand with mainstream appeal which taps into the growing hard seltzer opportunity in the UK. Three Fold comes in three fruity variants – Red Berries, Tropical and Citrus – and is naturally vegan and gluten free, containing 93 calories per 330ml can.

The company has recently invested £5m in Three Fold, which includes a comprehensive digital, social and out-of-home media campaign. It is the biggest brand investment Molson Coors has ever made into a new category.

Alison Berry, Senior Brand Manager, Seasons & Gifting, Mars Wrigley UK, comments: “As retailers, businesses and manufactures alike will understand, the year 2020 presented an unusual and challenging Christmas. Despite the skepticism around Christmas 2020, from a sales perspective, the retail and confectionery sector saw better-than-expected sales.”

Likewise, throughout the season, shoppers continued to give gifts to loved ones, with 86% of consumers continuing to gift something special – despite a turbulent Christmas period (Mintel).

While the current circumstances remain unpredictable, confectionery remains a staple during the holiday season and plays an ever-important role in providing little moments of joy and pleasure for consumers across the world in recent times. Additionally, the arrival of Freedom Day and a successful UK-wide vaccine roll-out, has shed positivity around Christmas 2021.

As such, Mars Wrigley UK is set to ensure retailers and consumers alike can celebrate the holiday season in style with a plethora of fan favourites and exciting NPDs.

Kicking off the season is the launch of Maltesers Mint Reindeer, which will be sure to keep celebrations fresh and cool this Christmas. Mint flavour products have rapidly grown +34% over the past year (Nielsen) and this new bitesize treat aims to drive new consumers to the segment.

As one of the top 15 confectionery products, Celebrations are the perfect treat to share with friends and family. Available now in Tub, Pouch and the more special, Centerpiece format – they’ll be vital in setting that festive feeling.

To benefit the environment, the newly designed Celebrations pouch has achieved a 20 per cent plastic packaging reduction.

Following a successful launch, Galaxy Truffles was the number one confectionery NPD for Christmas 2019 and continued to grow in 2020 despite challenges. Now available in Caramel and Orange flavour variants, Galaxy Truffles are set to make a glamourous splash for a third year running.

Maltesers Advent Calendar and Galaxy Advent Calendar are also returning to shelves to help consumers count down to the big day.

“While this year’s Christmas period may bring challenges, we’re confident that consumers will still want to celebrate the holiday season with family, friends and neighbors in a safe way – and we expect to see confectionery play a key role in these moments through gifting, sharing and treating!” adds Berry.

Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondelez International, comments: “Mondelez International – the number one confectionery supplier at Christmas – is once more gearing up to help wholesalers and retailers with their seasonal sales this year. New treats and returning favourites will be in store for the 2021 Christmas season across confectionery and biscuits, from much-loved brands Cadbury, Green and Black’s and Maynards Bassetts.”

One of the fastest growing flavours of the year (Nielsen) in a new form – the all-new limited-edition Cadbury Dairy Milk Winter Orange contains orange nugget inclusions making it a great treat for chocolate orange lovers and a key addition to a retailer’s festive range. The new launch comes with an impactful winter-themed design for strong stand-out on shelf and is a great size for a stocking filler, at RRP £1.49 for 95g.

Returning to retailers’ shelves for the first time in nearly 20 years, this iconic festive favourite was last on sale in 2003. With its truffle centre, hazelnut and rice crisp pieces covered in the nation’s favourite chocolate (Nielsen), Cadbury Puds are sure to be a hit once again with those looking for a touch of nostalgia. The launch aims to bring new shoppers into the individually-wrapped self-eat category as a great treat, with the occasion on the rise. This is a key launch for the season, with impactful packaging to stand out on shelf and capture shoppers’ attention.

This year Cadbury is introducing an all-new engaging advent calendar, allowing shoppers to build and decorate their very own pop-out Christmas tree throughout the month of December. With every Cadbury chocolate door opened, there’s a festive decoration to add to the pop-up Christmas tree featured inside the pack, with an innovative design for strong stand-out on shelf.

Also returning is shopper favourite Mini Snowballs, the number one novelty treat which grew by 8% last year. Recent launches Little Robins (Hazelnut Creme and Chocolate Noisette) and Jingly Bells (classic and Daim variants) will also delight shoppers once more this season. Cadbury Dairy Milk Snowman novelties are returning in a new impactful design, including the Orange flavour as well as Classic. Finally, within tablets, Cadbury Dairy Milk Gingerbread and Cadbury Dairy Milk Winter Wonderland will hit shelves once again this season.

Cadbury will bring back its extensive range of advent calendars for all types of shoppers, including last year’s Cadbury 3D Advent Calendar offering a fun design including both chocolate and stickers to discover. The Cadbury Dairy Milk Classics Advent Calendar will return for another season, filled with Cadbury Dairy Milk chunks with walnut and caramel. The brand also offers a range of returning products and formats for the festive sharing and Big Night In occasion, including different size boxes, tubs and pouches of Cadbury Roses and Cadbury Heroes to enable retailers to offer their shoppers different treats for various gifting and sharing occasions over the Christmas season.

Also joining the new and exciting innovations will be the remainder of Cadbury’s selection box portfolio which includes a range of sizes and products to suit all shoppers. Cadbury’s Hollow Santas, Cadbury Crackers and Freddo Plush Toy Gifts will return as well to give retailers a full portfolio of Christmas treats to range in store. ‘

 

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