Unitas has launched its first cross-category guide of the year – Impulse Category Guide 2024 – which is available now in depot and on the Plan for Profit website.

The 76-page guide contains category insights and core range recommendations across confectionery, crisps, snacks & nuts and soft drinks.

Each section also offers planograms, with solutions for different sized stores available through QR codes.

Commenting on the launch of the guide, Mark Langohr, Category Controller – Plan for Profit, at Unitas, said: “Impulse categories represent roughly 52% of volume sales in symbol & independent stores,1 so are a critical area for retailers to get right.

“We’ve combined data providers such as TWC, NielsenIQ, Circana, and Lumina to equip independent retailers with an unbiased view of these key categories. The Plan for Profit team is dedicated to supporting retailers with the best view of profit-driving categories and the launch of our Impulse Category Guide is a demonstration of that commitment.”


Confectionery is valued at £1.2bn in symbols & independents and has grown by +14.5% in the past year. Sharing bags, singles, and blocks make up the three biggest areas of the category, valued at £404m, £392m, and £203m respectively.2

Duos, valued at £58m, are the fastest-growing area of the market, up by +20% in the past year.3 We advise retailers to capitalise on this growth by placing these products in high-footfall locations where HFSS restrictions allow and merchandising them alongside snacks and soft drinks.

Price is the No 1 factor when purchasing confectionery, so make sure you highlight value by stocking PMPs and running promotions in line with seasons, holidays, and events.

61% of shoppers buy confectionery from the main fixture,4 meaning it’s crucial to have a neat and tidy display containing the bestsellers. The top 150 confectionery products make up 70% of sales,5 and we’ve revealed these key products in our Impulse Category Guide.

Kids confectionery is worth £396m and has grown by +10.6% in the past year. Chocolate is the biggest segment, at £231m and is up by +17%, while lollipops is the fastest-growing area at +34%, worth £18m.6 Kids sugar confectionery products priced over £1.25 have experienced growth of +83% in value and +109% in unit sales.7 Focus on this area to grow your sales and profits.

Crisps, snacks & nuts

This category is valued at £628m and has grown by +18.4% in the past year. While snacks are the biggest area, valued at £409m, it is also the joint fastest-growing alongside popcorn at +20%.8

Sharing formats continue to drive growth in the category, accounting for 72% of sales, with the majority in PMPs.9 We advise 60% of the display is dedicated to these lines.

Multipacks play an important role, with smaller formats making up 91% of total sales, growing by +7%.10

Singles, meanwhile, have dropped by -18.2 million units (-10.2%) as shoppers shift to PMP sharing packs for better value.11 These lines are still key for driving lunchtime meal options though, so ensure you are stocking them in this area and dedicate 30% of the main fixture space to singles.

Soft Drinks

1 in 2 impulse products purchased is a soft drink.12 Worth £2.5bn in symbols & independents, there are few categories more important to get right than soft drinks. Sports & energy drinks make up £1bn of sales, with colas, flavoured carbonates, and water worth £575m, £330m and £246m respectively.

The total category is growing by +16%, with sports & energy the fastest-growing segment at +28%. RTD Tea & Coffee is up by +15% and colas up by +11%.

Within sports & energy drinks, 80% of sales come from drink-now products. In fact, one in two single-serve drinks sold is a sports & energy drink.13 Retailers should allocate 25% of chiller space to energy drinks and 10% to sports drinks, focusing on the bestsellers from Red Bull, Monster and Lucozade.

18-24s are a key demographic to target with your range and considering 71% of people in this age group make ‘quick’ purchasing decisions, promotions and brands are key. 57% make purchases when items are on sale.14


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