Whether it’s Sky, Netflix or Amazon Prime, the unrelenting rise in popularity of streaming content and box-set binge-watching means that ‘staying in’ is officially the new ‘going out’.

It certainly is a booming opportunity for wholesalers and retailers, and one that is only going to get bigger as new players with deep pockets like Disney and Apple throwing their hats into the ring.

It’s a view shared by Paul Adams, Head of Sales & Development at best-one: “With shifting cultural changes – including the growth in streaming services, the range of catch up TV options and the rising popularity of games nights – there is an increasing number of consumers choosing nights in, instead of nights out.”

Moreover, recent data reveals 90% of shoppers cook for their family and 39% cook for their friends at least once a month (HIM).

“There are many ways that wholesalers can boost sales and tap into this burgeoning trend [of home cooking],” says Paul.

“For example, offering a variety of ‘quick and easy’ pre-prepared dinner options are popular amongst those looking for hassle-free cooking at home. [But] nights in are not always about dinner,” Paul reminds wholesalers.

According to HIM market research over a third (31%) of shopper’s get-together with family or friends to watch sports at home (HIM). Nearly half (46%) of these shoppers are purchasing crisps and snacks, and a further 44% purchase alcohol and 32% purchase soft drinks.

“We suggest stocking sharing bags of crisps, bags of chocolate or packets of biscuits as well as healthier options too – such as healthier crisps and lower alcohol drinks alternatives,” says Paul. Money, or rather spending power, has played its part in category growth too.

A decade of austerity has seen belt-tightening Britain fully embrace the big night in, and although the colder winter months entices the ‘stay at home’ crowd, it has in-fact grown to become a year-round category.

“The ‘big night in’ is an occasion that includes many different categories and appeal to all ages, therefore it’s a key trend to tap into year-round,” says Frances Booth, UK Category Development & Marketing Manager at Lotus Bakeries.

“Wholesalers must consider all areas including snacks, mains, drinks and desserts and having these in a dedicated area will ensure everything is to hand and can help to encourage multi-purchases and increases the overall spend,” advises Frances.

“Promoting deals like this is easier for retailers due to the single price point and value for money.”

It’s clear to see that ice cream is a must-stock item and it’s crucial to include plenty of variety, says Frances, who highlights that Lotus Biscoff recently launched their own ice cream within the UK.

“The Lotus Biscoff ice cream will add a delicious new flavour to your offering and will also catch the eye of customers who have seen the brand featured in a number of different outlets like Krispy Kreme or Pizza Express.”

With many big nights in being a spur of the moment arrangement, consumers will often be picking up drinks, snacks and easily prepared items on their way to an occasion. This gives convenience stores the edge over multiples as shoppers will be looking for a quick and local shopping option.

This is why wholesalers have an important role to play in driving category growth.

“Wholesalers need to tempt convenience store owners by reminding them of the big night in opportunity to bring in new and existing customers for extra shopping trips,” says Charlotte Hulbert, Sales Manager at Brioche Pasquier.

“Wholesale customers will need to be able to find what they want quickly and easily and may be looking for inspiration on the shelves of your store.

“Store owners need to be able to visualise how they can present these goods in their own shop so be sure to give them ideas with positive signage, clear labelling and effective displays.”

She adds: “Cross-merchandising will bring a selection together in one area which allows retailers to pick and mix from an edited range, encouraging them to pick up more than they might if they were roaming round the store trying to make decisions across all areas.”

Ideally for Charlotte, a display must include items such as sharing packs of crisps, nuts and packs of confectionery. “Add dips, salsas and sauces, and tortilla chips for nachos – include Brioche Pasquier’s Brioche Rolls for hot dogs and as a side to other dishes.”

A huge market, the big night in has established players that are competitors to the wholesale-supplier-convenience store model, notably Deliveroo and JustEat.

Megan Cornelius, Product Manager Food To Go from McCain Foodservice Solutions outlines the growth in delivered through the McCain SureCrisp ‘The Future Delivered’ report.

It states Britons now spend £4.2 billion a year on takeaway and delivery – up 73% in the past 10 years – and growth of the category expected to comprise 11% of the total hospitality market by 2022.

Compellingly, the report highlights how 80 of the top 100 UK takeaways were profitable last year, compared to just 65 of the top 100 restaurant groups, as consumers opted for convenience and affordability.

“As the most frequent consumers of food prepared outside the home (30%), Gen Z and Millennials’ use of technology – from delivery aggregator apps to voice-activated ordering and soon drone deliveries – is driving this consumer trend,” says Megan.

But one area wholesalers and convenience stores can better takeaways is on chips, which is where new McCain SureCrisp enters the fray.

“Fries play a vital role in delivery orders but 82% of consumers who order them have experienced soggy, cold, poor quality fries via delivery or collection because regular fries don’t travel well,” says Megan.

The new McCain SureCrisp range is designed to enable wholesalers to help operators to improve consistency, food quality and customer loyalty. The extra holding time means that wholesalers can assist operators to extend their delivery zone – reaching more customers with better fries – to help drive profitability.

All things potato are a must for big night in ranges, says Aviko Senior Marketing Manager, Shah Khan: “Frozen potato sides are therefore a must-stock for wholesalers and retailers.”

Kantar research has found that 84% of consumers ‘like’ or ‘love’ pizza, and eat it as a snack, a lunch and an evening meal across most days of the week. In fact, the most popular time to consume pizza is between 6 and 9 pm, making it the ideal meal for a Big Night In.

Chicago Town is helping retailers get a slice of the big night in market with its hot and fresh takeaway pizza concept – Pizza To Go, available in their two most popular flavours, Loaded Cheese and Loaded Pepperoni,.

Stores can freshly prepare and sell 12 inch stuffed crust Chicago Town ‘Pizza to Go’ straight from a hot cabinet sited in store.

“With unique fresh rising dough, that’s never pre-cooked, the pizzas deliver real takeaway taste with a stuffed crust bursting with its signature tomato sauce,” says Richard Cooper, Senior Brand Manager at Dr. Oetker Professional (UK)

Other brands helping wholesale and convenience channels meeting the demand for snacking include Rustlers and KP Snacks.

“When it comes to the Big Night In, consumers want food that can be prepared easily and delivers on taste – Rustlers fits the bill perfectly, providing a tasty solution that takes only minutes to be served,” says Monisha Singh, Shopper Marketing Manager at Kepak Consumer Foods.

Rustlers now provides a full category day part solution, featuring in the key consumption occasions of breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a major presence in three of the key shopper missions; food to go, meal for tonight and top up.

By creating a dedicated display, offering complementary snacks and drinks, and using POS to clearly signpost the occasion, retailers and wholesalers have an opportunity to drive basket size, spend and profits, says Monisha.

Insights from HIM show that 48% of consumers eat crisps, snacks and nuts when watching a film at home and 45% say snacks are a must have for an evening in with family and friends.

Price-marked packs have proven to be a successful tool in driving these impulse purchases across the sharing sector as they interrupt and inspire shoppers.

The KP Snacks PMP portfolio is currently worth £59m (Nielsen) and demand for the range is growing exponentially.

“Our £1 PMP ranges are out-performing market PMP growth at a staggering +35% (Nielsen),” says Matt Collins, Trading Director at KP Snacks.

When snacking, 39% of Brits will always or regularly want to experiment with new and exciting flavours (Cat Com), which is why KP Snacks’ latest, and biggest ever, new product launch – McCoy’s Muchos – taps into the growing popularity of one of the UK’s biggest food trends: Mexican.

“Mexican is now the third most popular cuisine eaten at home in the UK, and the nation’s fourth favourite takeaway (Mintel), and its popularity shows no signs of slowing,” says Matt.

McCoy’s Muchos are a new and innovative corn, wheat and potato based crisp with a unique blend of 6 spices and beans locked into the base before being seasoning with full on Mexican flavours.

They come in three Mexican flavours (Smoky Chilli Chicken, Nacho Cheese and Sour Cream & Onion) and are available in a 180g sharing bag size.

When it comes to desserts for the big night in, chocolate is still the number one choice for those settling down for a night in with friends and loved ones, followed by sugar confectionery.

Chocolate sharing formats, like bags and tablets, are an important part of a retailers’ range and therefore in depot too.

“In fact, bags are the fastest growing standard chocolate segment and Mondel?z’ popular sharing bags are growing by 4%, driven by Cadbury and premium brand Green & Black’s (Nielsen),” says Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondelez International.

This performance was also helped by Bournville moving into the sharing bag format for the first time with the launch of new Bournville Giant Buttons in February last year.

Sugar confectionery is another important part of a big night in and offers the perfect treat to share with friends and family.

Maynards Bassetts is the second biggest branded sugar confectionery player in the UK (Nielsen) and recently developed the iconic Wine Gums recipe to offer a new 30% Less Sugar variant.

While Mondel?z and Mars Wrigley have the lion’s share of sugar confectionery, Swizzels is one of the UK’s fastest growing large sugar confectionery manufacturers and the largest independent family-owned sugar confectionery business in the UK.

The Derbyshire based business continues to perform well in the confectionery market, with sales up +14% over the last two years.

Mark Walker, Sales Director at Swizzels, said: “Perfect for the big night in occasion, Drumstick and Refresher Choos were developed to satisfy growing consumer demand for softer sugar confectionery products.” Swizzels has launched its own Big Night In campaign running until April to build awareness of its Choos and Loadsa hanging bags. The consumer element of the campaign will run across PR, social media and influencer activity.

The trade element of the campaign will include promotional pricing, feature displays and a competition allowing retailers to win TV’s and streaming vouchers if they buy 3 cases and upload their receipt.

There is a clear spike in alcohol purchasing during big events, such as sports or musical events, according to Kantar’s UK Drinking Habits report.

“To help anticipate demand in advance, wholesalers can also put together a calendar of Big Night In events covering the first quarter and featuring sporting events, popular TV show finals and even launches of box-sets,” says Hannah Dawson Head of Customer Category, Off Trade GB at Diageo

“This will both help with their internal preparations and also act as a welcome reminder for their customers and encourage them to stock up ahead of time.”

According to The Diageo Drinks Report, spirits have been outperforming the traditional beer and wine segments for a number of years now (CGA).

The majority of this increase was fuelled by gin which grew by +52.2% in value.

“Accounting for 82% of total gin growth, pink gin has undoubtedly been the driving force behind the category’s growth (CGA),” says Hannah. “Gordon’s Premium Pink Distilled Gin is now the no. 1 gin (CGA) after just under two years in the market.”

In terms of the Big Night In and at home celebrations market it’s a good idea to combine products that can be merchandised together as a ‘party pack’, says Charlie Leaver, Senior Brand Manager at Global Brands.

“For example, pairing Hooch with popcorn and film snacks and Shake Baby Shake with party food, accessories and decorations allow retailers to target consumers and maximise sales.

“To further aid wholesalers, Global Brands offer a range of POS items from shelf strips to barker cards, posters and social media support. POS is vital to showcase new products and ongoing offers, increase brand visibility and encourage purchases.”

Designed with a “fun and feisty” attitude, Shake Baby Shake deliver a fresh take on classic cocktail flavours with their premixed drinks.

With two 4% ABV flavours available, Passion Fruit Martini and Raspberry Mojito, Shake Baby Shake offers a convenient cocktail solution, minus the messy mixing.

Cider is particularly popular for low-tempo occasions, such as a quiet night in or a drink after work. In addition, 79% of cider serves are with food, an increase of 12% from 2018 (Westons), meaning cider is an ideal choice for a big night in with sharing food.

Diamond White is a triple-filtered premium canned cider, with a strong and recognisable brand. This medium-sweet cider has a loyal following and has grown since its initial launch in the 1980’s.

Available exclusively to independent and convenience retailers, Diamond White Premium Cider is available in a 500ml can which is an ideal and popular format for the convenience sector.

Growing levels of health-consciousness is seeing soft drinks become a bigger opportunity for wholesalers to cater for those planning nights at home.

Millennials are driving the occasion’s popularity, with two-thirds of young people expressing a preference for less alcohol consumption (Kantar).

“Wholesalers should consider the importance of low and no alcohol drinks for these occasions,” says Amy Burgess, Senior Trade Communications Manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP).

“Sharing formats of Coca-Cola zero sugar, Fanta Zero and Sprite Zero are popular choices for these occasions, so making sure shelves are stocked up can help wholesalers make the most of the opportunity.”

In May 2019, Coca-Cola unveiled one of their biggest innovations yet and launched the Coca-Cola Trademark into the premium mixers category for the first time with the creation of Coca-Cola Signature Mixers.

A range of premium mixers available in four distinctive cola flavours including Smoky Notes with warm brown spices, Spicy Notes with lime and ginger, Herbal Notes with lemongrass and Woody Notes with patchouli and basil.

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