Inviting friends and family round for a Big Night In, cheered by food and drink treats for sharing, is a major part of British life in the 21st century. As we work harder and longer, increasing numbers of us like to spend our down time with our favourite people watching movies, TV shows and major sporting events or bingewatching box sets.

Across the demographic range, in our austere and health-conscious times, for many of us ‘Not going out’ is more than a classic TV comedy series, it’s a way of life. But we still like to enjoy ourselves.

Our shopping habits for Big Nights In tend to be characterised by high frequency, spontaneous or last minute purchases, great news for convenience and independent retailers and the wholesalers who serve them. To make the most of the sales opportunity it’s vital that wholesalers give their convenience and independent retail customers as wide a choice of products as possible across the categories, to keep shoppers coming back. Optimising your range now is key, with the colder months and the peak ‘Big Night In’ season ahead. Here is an overview of what’s happening in the different categories.

Savoury snacks, healthy Profits

The Big Night In phenomenon covers three key areas – savoury snacking, sweet snacking and drinks. Consumer appetites for healthier products have grown rapidly in each of these in line with our busy, on-the-go lifestyles. And with health and wellness now topping their agendas, people are more mindful about what they consume, although traditional treats remain huge sellers.

In savoury snacking, as big suppliers and specialist players alike embrace the ‘better for you’ opportunity in their NPD and retailers turn over increasing amounts of space to healthier snacking, there are more opportunities than ever for wholesalers to capitalise on the trend.

PepsiCo, one of the UK’s leading names in snacks and nutrition, has embraced the ‘Better For You’ proposition alongside its mainstream snacks portfolio.

Walkers Oven Baked crisps are the biggest brand in the ‘Better For You’ segment, averaging 50% less fat than standard crisps. Another Walkers ‘Better For You ‘ brand which is important for Big Night In is Snack-a- Jacks, the UK’s number one rice cake brand with a 48% repeat purchase, contributing to the Better For You segment’s +38% growth.

A very Big Night In indeed

The Big Night In opportunity goes on all year round. The impact of weather on consumer shopping is huge, especially in the convenience channel, which relies on unplanned purchases. With the colder months encouraging increases in social gatherings as we hunker down, independent stores can tap into this sales opportunity by stocking up on the essentials for lastminute get-togethers.

Matt Collins, Sales Director for Convenience, Wholesale, Discounters & Foodservice at KP Snacks, outlines the scale of the ‘BNI’ habit:

* 78% of consumers spend most of their leisure time at home

* 64% of cinema goers watch more films at home than 2 years ago

* 48% of consumers eat crisps, snacks and nuts when watching films at home and 71% say they enjoy watching TV with others.

* There are 1.7 bn sharing occasions annually

* 45% of snackers say crisps are a must have for an evening in

* 51% of shoppers are more likely to visit their local store if they offer themed promotions like Big Night In

* 51% of sharing occasions are on weekends

KP’ing it healthy

KP Snacks’ portfolio includes 23 products which are 100 calories or less per pack, including POM-BEAR, Hula Hoops Puft, Skips and Space Raiders. Responding to rising demand for products that address both sharing occasions and healthier snacking, KP Snacks’ range now includes Popchips, the fastest growing bagged snack brand and number one ‘Better for You’ bagged snack brand in sharing packs, and Tyrrells, the UK’s no.1 vegetable crisp brand, no.2 hand cooked crisp and no.3 premium popcorn brand. KP launched a new KP Nuts on the go range, followed by new 120g sharing format KP Sharing Nut Mixes in June.

Some Like It Hot

Wholesalers should also look at promoting savoury snack foods which can be served hot for Big Nights In. Rustlers, the UK’s No.1 micro-snacking brand, meets the demand for hot, tasty, convenient solutions, says Angela Daulby, UK Group Sales Director of Kepak Convenience Foods:

“Rustlers is the perfect

accompaniment to a wide range of Big Night In options including soft drinks, alcohol, sides and desserts, providing the variety shoppers are looking for.” As Britain’s love affair with spicy foods continues, Pizza Express Retail is positioning its fiery Romana American Hottest pizza as the perfect sharing option for a Big Night In, says Richard Mills, Head of Retail at Pizza Express, building on the success of the Classic American. Pizza Express’ most recently launch in the Romana range, American Hottest fits alongside the Magherita Speciale and Padana.

Another perfect option for cold winter evenings, baked and filled Potato Skins and Mini Potato Skins from Bannisters Yorkshire Family Farm, come ready-topped with tempting fillings like cheese & bacon, cheese & jalapeño and cheese & onion, and can be heated in the oven or the microwave. Marie Medhurst, Sales Director at Bannisters Yorkshire Family Farm, says: “All our products are gluten free. It’s important to consider the on-going shift towards healthier snack foods, and allocate space accordingly.”


Evening snacking is worth over £6.5 billion and growing, says Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Mondel?z International:

“Chocolate is still number one choice for a night in, followed by candy, biscuits and crisps, so there are plenty of opportunities for cross category selling. 52% of confectionery occasions take place with other people present, so sharing formats are key to maximising this opportunity.”

“Confectionery is the biggest food and drink category in convenience, and also the most impulsive. The main confectionery fixture should be really easy to shop, in a highly visible location.

Follow the basics, put best-sellers in best-selling locations, group products by format, keep shelves fully stocked, and use POS to highlight products where possible.

Chocolate tablets play a big role in Big Night In Confectionery sales and are growing 2.4% YTD. Category leader Mondel?z is driving growth through its Cadbury, Cadbury Dairy Milk and Green & Black’s brands. In 2017, Mondel?z brought hero brands to Chocolate bags, the fastest growing standard chocolate segment, launching Cadbury Fudge Minis, Cadbury Curly Wurly Squirlies and Cadbury Picnic Bites. The Cadbury- Oreo power co-brand has led to snacking innovations with Cadbury Dairy Milk Oreo Sandwich and Cadbury Oreo Bites.

In the £1.2 billion UK candy market, Mondel?z International’s portfolio includes the UK’s number one adult bag, Maynards Bassetts Wine Gums. Recent Wine Gums additions include Tangy, Tropical and Merry Mix candy bags and Wine Gums Mocktails, appealing to younger adults with nonalcoholic flavours.

Jodie Wood, Business Unit Controller at Ferrero, says three trends have continued throughout 2018: at-home entertainment and sharing, treating in moderation and quality over quantity. Sharing bags are worth £1.2bn, making up 20% of total confectionery, with chocolate sharing enjoying growth. Ferrero’s sharing formats include Kinder Choco-Bons, and Kinder Chocolate mini, both in double digit growth.

Following the healthy trend, Ferrero products have always been available as single wrapped portions. Over 95% are below 150 kcal, perfect as little treats. Confectionery is a category where consumers are willing to trade up to more premium treats, especially at key seasonal peaks like Christmas and spring. Last Christmas, Jodie Wood says the biggest growth came from statement gifting and statement sharing.

Russell Tanner, marketing and category director at Tangerine Confectionery, quotes Harris Interactive research, indicating that nearly half of British adults choose a night in over a night out:

“Big Night In continues to be a real sales driver in confectionery, especially during the winter. Nostalgia has become one of the biggest drivers of confectionery as a whole and is particularly relevant for ‘Big Night In’ sales. Consumers are buying sweets to share with friends and are keen to purchase the sweets they loved when younger. Our Barratt brand confectionery ties in perfectly and our new Softie sweets, a soft gum twist on classics like Refreshers and Fruit Salad, are a modern take on the nostalgic trend.”

The healthy trend also comes into Tangerine’s Big Night In propositions:

“Parents and those watching the calories prefer their sweets in preportioned packs that can be easily limited. Our most recent launch, Bag of Bags, are multipacks of mini-bags of retro favourites such as Shrimps & Bananas, Mini Bears and Strawberry Milkshake Bottles. Under 65 calories per bag, these are ideal for family movie nights, allowing them to indulge in treats while reassuring parents on sugar intake.”

Mark Walker is Sales Director at Swizzels, the UK’s fastest growing sugar confectionery manufacturer and largest independent family-owned sugar confectionery business. Swizzels has expanded its PMP range and entered the soft chew hanging bag category with its newest sweet invention, Choos. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and available in 150g non-PMPs, Choos are perfect for sharing. Swizzels’ Loadsa range includes a variety of their most popular products, with each individually wrapped sweet under 100 calories.


Part of KP Snacks, Butterkist is the nation’s favourite popcorn brand, with 33% market share. 56% of popcorn shoppers buy into Butterkist, 45% repeat buying. Voted best tasting branded sweet & salted popcorn, Butterkist has 50% of the sweet flavour market. Sweet & Salted is Butterkist’s No.1 sharing flavour with over 35% of sales, while Sweet is the second biggest and fastest growing flavour, at almost 21%.

Propercorn, the number one premium popcorn, has launched a new microwave popcorn collection in Sweet, Salted and Cinnamon flavours, targeting Millennial shoppers and families.

Ice Cream

Mars Ice Cream’s research shows a third of UK consumers entertain at home more than ten years ago. Michelle Frost, general manager at Mars Ice Cream says three quarters (71%) of consumers plan to entertain friends and family at least once a month until December. And one in three (37%) of 18-34s plan to entertain at home weekly over the next six months. Sixty-eight per cent of hosts opt for ice cream sharing tubs, one in three (36%) preferring to serve ice cream on a stick and one in five (22%) an ice cream bar. Seventy per cent look for great taste, followed by great quality (51%), value for money (38%) and recognised brands (24%).

Soft Drinks

Amy Burgess, Trade Communications Manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) says we should raise a toast to the consumer trend for big nights in:

“Socialising at home is a growing opportunity for retailers and wholesalers. The rise of streaming services like Netflix has resulted in over 80% of consumers spending nights in watching movies at home each month, compared to just over half visiting pubs or bars.

“As well as the obvious soft drinks, mixers are growing in popularity, with or without alcohol, partly due to the popularity of cocktails and non-alcoholic mocktails, as people becoming more adventurous making them at home. Some are even buying bar equipment and cocktail glassware to recreate a ‘bar atmosphere.’ Retailers should place mixers alongside alcoholic drinks, so shoppers can stock up in one go.”


Andrew Nunney, Accolade Wines’ Category, Shopper and Insights Director, says that the ‘wall of wine’ needs breaking up, with key wine brands called out as the wine to trust for these occasions. Where different tiers of the same brand are listed, placing premium options higher on shelves encourages trading up.

Tasting evenings featuring brands and products not listed by the multiples will also encourage customers to try and buy.

Lighten Up

Dan Harwood, head of wine education at Halewood Wines & Spirits, says wine drinkers’ habits are changing, with the latest MAT figures showing alcohol free wine worth around £40m and Eisberg leading with 60% share:

“Drinking rates are the lowest in 18 years, with ONS statistics showing around 1 in 5 consumers are teetotal, 8% up on 2008.”

Staying focused on the party season, Halewood also offers warming reds like world-class Rioja brand Marques de Caceres and on the sparkling side, Colle Baio Organic Prosecco. English sparkling wine is also surging in popularity.

Getting Fruity with it Westons Cider has launched Stowford Press’ first fruit variant into the offtrade following their most successful ever on trade launch. Holly Chadwick, Brand Manager for Stowford Press says the launch coincides with impressive growth for fruit ciders in the off-trade, growing +13.6% year on year and set to make up 48% of cider sales by 2023. Fruit cider is exceptionally popular with existing cider fans, as well as attracting younger and female shoppers.

The ‘Spirit’ of a Big Night In

Pernod Ricard’s focus between now and Christmas is ensuring shoppers think about alcohol choices before going shopping and encouraging retailers to promote premium spirits until 1st January. to capitalise on growing demand. Pernod Ricard reckon if every store took an extra £557, or three bottles per week, in spirits sales in the eight weeks before Christmas, the independents would command the same market share as supermarkets.

Chris Shead, Pernod Ricard UK’s Off- Trade Channel Director, comments: “Retailers should give premium spirits more shelf space than standard, increase basket spend by advertising cocktails in store, and list NPD to excite consumers seeking new flavours and tastes.”

The ‘Big Night In’ concept is growing in popularity among young adult and older couples, says Faith Holland, Head of Category and Insights at Diageo GB, with heavy emphasis on making ‘staying in’ special:

“Making cocktails at home is huge as people look to replicate at home what they’ve seen in pubs and bars. Ready-toserve cocktails make it easier to recreate specific favourites from the on-trade.”

Six steps to spirit sales from Diageo:

1. Range – Stock the best-sellers and up-weight your premium product offering, highlighting new and growing products. Display premium products above value products

2. Layout – Ensure customers can easily find must stock items. Blocking vertically by category, then brand and size helps do this. Let shoppers see all bottle sizes by brand together

3. Eye-catching point of sale – Use POS materials to highlight new, growing, seasonal or promoted products

4. Category insight – Communicate compelling reasons to buy products on promotion

5. Price led communication – Ensure the profit on return (POR), recommended retail price (RRP) and actual vs promotional price is clearly communicated to shoppers

6. Cross merchandising – Use certain products to uplift sales of accompanying items by displaying together as an ‘add-on’

Let’s Get This Party Started

Home drinking is on the rise, says Christian Sarginson, Brand Controller at Global Brands, with 28% of 24-31’s drinking at home rather than going out. Students and young professionals alike are opting for a Big Night In, with ‘cost’ and ‘effort’ the two factors influencing decisions. The average night out costs £54.49, so a house party or an evening in front of the TV is a much cheaper option.

Although at-home drinkers often look to spend less on a night out, they will spend money recreating the experience at home. The value of cocktails is soaring, worth £500m in the on-trade, growing nearly 10% annually and inspiring consumers to find accessible RTD canned cocktails in the off trade. Cans are driving growth, +27.8% in volume and +29% in impulse, holding 44% category share, +5% on 2017.

Global Brands’ Big Night In top tips:

The big chill – 55% of alcohol is drunk within two hours of purchase, so retailers should keep top sellers in the fridge to maximise impulse buying. Ones to watch – Cans and Ready To Serve cocktails can refresh your RTD fixture and help capitalise on growth trends.

Drive value with PMP – Consistent price points – 61% of convenience shoppers think PMPs offer more value than supermarket equivalents. Make the most of the student market – Millennials and LDA Generation Z consumers are big convenience and impulse shoppers Convenience is KING – At home drinking and entertaining is increasing, so cater for these new habits with multipacks and seasonal promotions.


Russ Goldman, Buying Director at Rayburn Trading, says:

“Staying in is the new going out. Retailers should capitalise on how consumers are now proud to say they’re staying in rather than having a night on the town. Despite tightening their purse strings, entertaining at home is still widely popular, and on such occasions, they still want to treat themselves. This trend can be taken advantage of all year round.

“The most popular ‘big night in’ staples include fizzy drinks, confectionery and snack products like crisps and dips. Sharing bags do particularly well. Our larger Haribo bags and 1.5-litre Pepsi bottles are also popular for independent retailers looking to ramp up ‘big night in’ sales, as they’re also found in the larger multiples.

“On the other hand, we have seen a large increase in the sales of treat bags, which are smaller than family packs and with a lower price point, so consumers feel they have got better value for their money.

“When entertaining at home, consumers tend to buy premium products, so it is always a good idea to have a large selection of premium brands and keep up with growing trends and new, exciting products.”

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