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The UK’s two big autumn high spots, Bonfire Night and Halloween, present seriously exciting opportunities for wholesalers to help retailers cater to shoppers who are keen to enjoy the fun, going to events and hosting events at home.

The good news for retailers and wholesalers is that the Halloween/Bonfire Night season goes on for two weeks, give or take. Better yet, Halloween spending isn’t limited to pumpkins and fancy-dress items, it’s a peak time for food and drink and much more. As many as half of consumers say they look for special products related to Halloween, including Halloween-themed varieties of popular products such as soft drinks and sweets, when making purchasing decisions for special occasions over the season.

After Christmas, Halloween is the second biggest occasion in the candy category, says Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondelez International. Its popularity as a season in the UK shows no sign of slowing, with total Halloween confectionery sales up 1.3% to £35M in 2018. Within this, candy has been the biggest driver, with sales topping £30M and growing ahead of total, at 4.7%, showing the importance of brands like Maynards Bassetts at this time of year.

Over Halloween and Bonfire Night shoppers look to buy products for trick-or-treaters, or hosting Halloween parties. 52% of consumers say they buy gifts for trick-or-treaters, while 40% say they will be hosting some form of party or gathering. These two opportunities helped drive sales of sharing bags, worth £5.8M in 2018, up 11.8% year-on-year and ‘bag of bags’ products up 13.2% year-on-year in 2018, with sales of £8.1M. Retailers and wholesalers should capture this by increasing their sharing bags over the months, building on “Big Night in” opportunities.

Maynards Bassetts is helping wholesalers get into Halloween with two new products for 2019. Maynards Bassetts Soft Jellies Scary Safari is a ‘bag of bags’ product with 17 x 16.7g mini bags, perfect for trick or treating. Available at £2 RRP each bag contains a variety of soft jelly sweets in fun animal shapes, in a range of fruity flavours. Maynards Bassetts Soft Jellies are worth £2.6M and tap the growing trend for permissibility in confectionery products, each mini bag containing only 54 calories.

Next, Maynards Bassetts Dead Chewy is a great-tasting chew product. Each 162g bag contains individually wrapped chews, in a variety of flavours. They meet the growing desire for chews at Halloween, up 26.8% in 2018. The new bags retail at £1. Finally, Mondel?z International has also launched a new Cadbury Oreo product for the Halloween season.

Cadbury Oreoooo is a 256g bag of Oreo Mini Filled Eggs, with spooky Halloween branding. Available at an RRP of £4.19, the individually-wrapped products are perfect for sharing and trick or treating. This year HARIBO, the UK’s leading sweet manufacturer and the number one sweets brand at Halloween, is inviting retailers to ‘Share the Scare’ with its top selling seasonal range and a new exclusive treat. Building on its success during 2018, HARIBO and MAOAM are offering an ideal range for trick or treating and parties.

“Each year more people participate in Halloween,” comments Claire James, Trade Marketing Manager at HARIBO. “In 2018 over half of UK consumers splashed out on it. So, if a household isn’t preparing to go trick or treating or to host a party, they’re likely to be planning to cater for those that come knocking at their door!

“This creates a great opportunity for retailers, especially those that get their Halloween confectionery range right by offering variety, volume and value from recognised brands. As category leaders we deliver top sellers at Halloween, so our range is a risk free, crowd pleaser, delivering reassurance for the retailer and the customer.”

To capitalise on this key shopper occasion, retailers need a range fit for purpose and relevant to key trends within the market. According to seasonal research value for money remained top driver of retailer choice last Halloween. There was also a focus on products that were season-neutral but fit for purpose; popular, portioned, all year round treats loved by the majority.

This was echoed by seasonal, shopper research commissioned by HARIBO during Halloween 2018. Shoppers looked for strong performing brands offering good value for money. While catering for trick or treating was crucial, products did not need to be themed. 76% of shoppers positioned HARIBO as the number one confectionery brand at Halloween, closely followed by MAOAM.

To capitalise upon the key seasonal trends the HARIBO and MAOAM range boasts variety, volume and value, delivering more than just treats to retailers. New for 2019 the HARIBO and MAOAM Duo Pack combines top selling gums and jellies, with the leading fruity chews, bringing HARIBO and MAOAM together in one bag for the first time.

Containing 32 treats, the Duo Pack is made up of mini bags and individually wrapped chews including HARIBO’s family favourites Starmix, Tangfastics, Supermix and Giant Strawbs Gone Mini, alongside MAOAM Stripes, Pinballs and Joystixx.

Claire James says: “Our Duo Pack brings together popular HARIBO and MAOAM treats to cater perfectly for Halloween occasions and shopper trends, around volume, wrapped treats and non-themed products. Whether we have families knocking at our door or joining us for a celebration, we want to delight them all and share their favourites. We know individually wrapped is important too because it delivers from a safety, hygiene and convenience perspective, so our HARIBO and MAOAM Duo Pack is a great addition to our range.”

On shelf and offering volume for Halloween are Tangfastics and Starmix Minis, containing 11 mini bags. For a larger selection, Super Party features 22 mini bags. Also offering value and volume are MAOAM’s selection of individually wrapped top selling chews, including Stripes, Joystixx and MaoMixx. Available all year round, these treats support the occasion and are ideal for retailers who don’t want to risk being stuck with themed stock after the event.

Claire continues: “While all year-round treats are a popular choice, novelty is still welcomed and 61% of shoppers look for themed products and packaging to add fun and theatre to Halloween celebrations.” The HARIBO Trick or Treat multipacks, featuring a selection of themed gums and jellies and containing 11 or 35 pre-portioned bags, enhance any seasonal display or aisle. Back on shelf for 2019 is HARIBO’s seasonal twist for Starmix and Tangfastics, allowing consumers to enjoy the iconic pieces in each bag, but in frightful colours and spooky flavours.

“There’s one more trick to getting ready for Halloween – availability,” concludes Claire. “There’s no point stocking the right range if treats aren’t on shelf at the right time.

Stocking up to one month in advance supports planned purchases. Here shoppers look to top up their weekly shop. Trick or treating goods and party treats also peak in the week running up to the occasion and on the day, so make sure visibility of Halloween treats is good, with secondary displays in place to capture impulse sales. This year Halloween falls on a Thursday, so we expect to see parties and celebrations extend into the weekend. Getting stock levels and formats right is therefore crucial.”

Halloween is becoming increasingly sophisticated, says Mark Roberts, Trade Marketing Manager at Perfetti Van Melle, with people going beyond the call of duty to host the biggest and best parties:

“In grocery Halloween is the third biggest time for sales and continues to grow in convenience. Consumers are making more planned purchases, stocking up for trick or treat visits, entertaining at home and gifting. “Sharing bags are an incredibly popular sugar confectionery format, growing +4%. This growth will continue in the run up to Halloween, not only with consumers getting stuck into trick or treat, but for parties, which are likely to be even more popular this year with Halloween on a Thursday.”

Mark says convenience stores should ensure they’re maximising basket spend by offering shoppers the opportunity to trade up to bigger pack sizes: “This year we’ve introduced new Fruittella Favourites XL bag to meet this consumer need. We’ve also included sharing bags containing portionable, wrapped sweets in our Halloween offering to cater to the growing trend for portionable treats. Fruittella bags are growing +10.3% MAT and Chupa Chups sharing is also up +8.4% MAT, must stocks for Halloween.

“At this time of year, wholesalers should consider placing themed displays in areas of high footfall to add excitement in depot. Consumer favourites with a spooky look add to these displays, ensuring they stand out. PVM offers themed shelf-ready packaging to complement our themed Halloween packs, adding to the occasion and engaging consumers. Products from our core range which have been given a spooky makeover include Fruittella Duo Stix and Juicy Chews, which last year grew +46% and +20% respectively at Halloween.

Halloween is the second biggest drinking occasion after New Year’s Eve and presents a huge opportunity for wholesalers to drive higher sales, says Toby Lancaster, Category and Shopper Marketing Director at HEINEKEN UK. Not only that, the UK is taking more note than ever of calendar events as key celebrations. As identified in Heineken UK’s Sports and Seasons driver, more than half of beer and cider value sales happen over key seasonal periods.

With Halloween particularly popular among 18-25s, cider sales tend to spike at this time of year, says Toby Lancaster, as students opt for more refreshing and fruity tastes. Throughout these occasions, they are likely to be purchasing cider or beer to enjoy with friends ahead of going out, often alongside crisps or snacks.

Premiumisation continues to be a key trend in Beer and Cider, with 28% of shoppers looking to trade up. Wholesalers should stock up on a variety of brands, including premium options, to secure maximum sales from retailers.

Wholesalers need to respond by offering the right range of premium alternatives to retailers that suit the Halloween occasion. Desperados is a great example of a brand driving this trend and delivering exponential growth. Desperados has a link with Halloween due to its Mexican perception, aligning it with events such as Day of the Dead. Sunshine Lager attracts the 18-34s’ sweeter taste profile and is experiencing +22% growth in the off-trade, bringing in new shoppers.

Halloween is the next biggest sales period for wholesalers outside Christmas and Easter, says Jessica Smith, Marketing Executive at Continental Wine and Food. This presents a huge opportunity for wholesalers and retailers, as shoppers will be making last minute purchases including food and drinks for a party or children’s treats, and the prospects for driving impulse purchases have no limits. Meanwhile Bonfire night sees people all over Britain celebrating this tradition and although it has a very different feel to Halloween, consumers still expect warm food and a good selection of drinks for their get-togethers.

“Whatever the tradition, it pays to get in to the spirit of the celebration. People should be intrigued and mesmerised on their way through. Shoppers are after convenience so ensure your layout is simple, easy to navigate and displayed attractively. “

Continental Wine and Food recommend stocking up for these celebrated occasions, with a strong range of bag-in-box products which promote quality and value to the consumer. The Straw Hat is the UK’s Number 1 British Wine Brand, featuring a bag-in-box format in White, Red and Rosé variants. Each box is equivalent to 3 x 75cl bottles and features an easy-pour tap, ideal for people wanting to refill their glass without trailing back and forth to the fridge for a top up. The bag in boxes stay fresh for up to 6 weeks.

Focusing further on alcohol, independent retailers and wholesalers can compete with multiples by offering value and variety through a number of lower-priced alternatives to premium spirits. Statistics show 64% of UK shoppers actively look to try new brands. CWF manufacture a number of speciality drinks that have proven to be firm favourites such as Nectars – a peach Schnapps, and Sandy Cove – a Caribbean Rum and Coconut flavoured drink, both striking a chord among Millennials, as their stylish and high-quality brand appeal balances with their ‘value for money’ price pitch.

Lastly, the rise in demand for new liqueur flavours is an emerging trend and innovation is key to success. The Straw Hat have extended their demographic through their new gin liqueurs, which give a taste of gin while softening it with 20% ABV and a sweeter profile. The three flavours, Rhubarb & Ginger, Violet and Raspberry & Rose, fit the demand for lower alcohol spritz-style drinks. They can be used in mixed drinks or served over ice, but the most popular use is in addition to the base spirit in cocktails.

With an estimated 6.1 million people choosing not to drink alcohol, it’s vital for wholesalers to provide a range of exciting soft drinks options at this time of year, says Amy Burgess, Senior Trade Communications Manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP):

“Sharing formats are a frontrunner for these occasions, which are usually shared with family and friends, so wholesalers should ensure shelves remain stocked with well-known brands to help maximise sales.”

Brits are spending more on Halloween products than ever before, almost double since 2013, and last year reaching a record £419 million, up 5% on the year before. Soft drinks are increasingly important to retailers for Halloween, growing +6.2% (£35.8million) in value last year, with most of this growth driven by flavoured carbonates, + 7.9%. Fanta was one of the key brands, seeing a 17% increase in value sales vs 2017.

“Fanta is to Halloween what Coca-Cola is to Christmas,” says Amy, “ and our activity for this year’s Halloween is set to be bigger and better than ever. Supported by a multi-million marketing campaign spanning digital and outdoor advertising, social media and Twisted Carnival activities, the Fanta brand is a must-stock for Halloween.”

The mists may be swirling around when Halloween comes, but consumers are clear about their health, says Amy Burgess:

“People have a greater awareness of health and wellness than ever, which is impacting on the way they shop. As more of us look to make positive changes in our lifestyles, sugar content has become a major factor in making choices and consumers are continuously on the lookout for more low-sugar options, so wholesalers should make sure they offer a wide range of low-sugar soft drinks.”

With consumers becoming more adventurous and looking to experiment with new and exciting variants, Amy Burgess says it is increasingly important for wholesalers to keep an eye out for the latest flavour innovations across a range of different soft drinks formats over the Halloween and Bonfire Night period, such as Fanta Dark Orange.

7.4 million households in Britain are now buying flavoured colas, equating to an extra 1.7 million buyers over the last year, adding +30% growth to Flavoured colas in 2018, and demonstrating the clear opportunity for more flavour variety.

“Our Light Cola flavours have proven extremely popular since launching in 2018 and have sold over £25m. This has prompted the launch of two new flavours – Coca-Cola zero sugar Raspberry and Diet Coke Twisted Strawberry.”

CCEP’s biggest Halloween innovation to date is this year’s launch, Fanta Dark Orange, the first of its kind, a great tasting blood orange flavour with a dark twist. The disruptive dark colour and wolf on-pack graphics will catch shoppers’ attention and drive purchases as people stock up for Halloween. Fanta Dark Orange is Soft Drinks Tax exempt. The launch follows Fanta Zero Grape, introduced in 2019 following huge demand on social media and now worth nearly £4 million.

In another CCEP initiative, Fanta’s Twisted Carnival is a travelling Halloween show inviting Fanta fans to make their way through a haunted carnival tent. The show returns this year to terrify consumers, supported across social media with posts on Snapchat and partnerships with online media and influencers.

The core Fanta range is again receiving a Halloween-themed makeover with the return of Noma Bar’s ghoulish on-pack graphics. The designs link Fanta with Halloween, engaging and exciting consumers during the countdown to the scariest night of the year. The packs are available across both regular and zero variants in ‘instant consumption’ and ‘future consumption’ formats and all the Fanta flavours, including Orange, Lemon, Fruit Twist, Pink Grapefruit and Grape.

“We know consumers want special packaging, and half look for special products relating to Halloween, when making purchasing decisions for the occasion. It’s worth keeping stocks high to meet increasing demand for soft drinks, with as wide a choice of products as possible, considering a range of variants and pack formats to provide options that appeal to every consumer taste and occasion. Creating spooky Halloween or sparkling Bonfire Night displays can help leverage the high level of interest that can be generated ahead of these occasions.”

Wholesalers can drive profits from soft drinks this Halloween, says Adrian Troy, Marketing Director at Barr Soft Drinks, by displaying fun, affordable products that enable retailers to cater for shoppers stocking up for seasonal parties or trick or treaters. Themed displays are vital for driving in depot sales:

“The Halloween occasion represents a significant opportunity for wholesalers to grow sales during a key period in the UK retail calendar, with 1 in 3 people celebrating either attending or hosting a Halloween party,” says Adrian Troy, Marketing Director at Barr Soft Drinks.

“Soft drinks and confectionery are the biggest profit drivers, with shoppers stocking up on take-home packs of soft drinks for parties and smaller packs to hand out to trick-or-treaters.” One in three shoppers buy soft drinks at Halloween, making this a key category focus for retailers and wholesalers alike. Halloween bestsellers include IRN-BRU, the UK’s No.1 Flavoured Carbonate brand, available in Regular and XTRA variants and the colourful Barr Family Range, the UK’s biggest range of flavours.

Retailers should also stock up on premium soft drinks for the adults attending Halloween parties who do not drink alcohol. A great suggestion here is Bundaberg, the range of craft-brewed, premium non-alcoholic beverages from Australian family-owned Bundaberg Brewed Drinks. The UK range comprises six flavours – Ginger Beer, Root Beer, Blood Orange, Lemon/Lime & Bitters, Peach and Pink Grapefruit.

Strike a light!

Key celebrations such as Halloween and Bonfire Night provide the year’s biggest opportunity for retailers to spark extra sales from the UK’s £20 plus million matches market.

“Virtually every household in the country has a requirement for matches or lighters at this time of year as families enjoy these key celebrations, providing a major opportunity for sales uplift,” says Gavin Anderson, General Sales Manager at RYO accessories specialist, Republic Technologies (UK) Ltd.

“With reports estimating more than £400 million was spent on celebrating Halloween last year, almost double what it was just six years ago, and millions of people carving out pumpkins and placing candles inside for extra effect, matches are a must stock item and a vital household accessory,” adds Gavin.

“Bonfire Night is another occasions when matches come into their own, not forgetting that every pack of fireworks sold is a chance to offer a box of matches.

“This really is the optimum time to stock a range of matches, meeting different user occasions and needs. For example, Cook’s matches are targeted at kitchen usage whereas Bryant and May Extra Long matches are ideally-suited for lighting candles and fireworks.”

Consumer awareness for Republic Technologies’ best-selling matches is at its highest ever thanks to a high profile relaunch of its Swan, Bryant & May, Cooks and Ship products. The move marks an increased focus on sustainability coupled with growing demand for eco-friendly matches.

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