NOVELTY and nostalgia are, in many respects, what Christmas is all about. And confectionery firms say sweets are ideally placed to deliver both.
In the UK, the market for sugar confectionery peaks at Halloween and Christmas, and figures suggest seasonality is increasingly important to sales.
According to research from Nielsen, quoted by independent sugar confectionery business Swizzels, sugar confectionery at Christmas is seeing significant growth, with sales up 14% year on year.
Convenience stores’ Christmas sugar confectionery sales are worth £17.4m and in 2013 total volume over the festive period grew by 12.5%.
Swizzels says its own independent consumer research – conducted by Dipsticks – has shown that consumers are looking for brands that they recognise and trust, especially when purchasing gifts.
Its own Sweet Shop Favourites tin collects a variety of well-established sweets – including Drumstick Lollies, Refreshers Chews, Love Hearts, Double Lollies and Fruity Pops – as an alternative to tinned chocolate assortments. Returning for Christmas 2014, it is available alongside the firm’s Sweet Shop Favourites Gift Box and extra-long tubes of Sweet Extravaganza, which come in a shelf-ready box or a free-standing display unit, and can be positioned at the front of store in a bid to attract impulse sales.
Drumstick, Love Hearts and New Refreshers festive gift tubes are also available with new pack designs and are joined by a Parma Violets gift tube in 2014.
The worldwide popularity of boy band One Direction has also inspired a new branded gift tube, which is filled with mini Love Heart rolls featuring 1D messages chosen by fans.
Other products the company tips to do well this year include Squashies, a newcomer to the gums and jellies category, and variety bags such as Loadsa Sweets or Loadsa Lollies.
“We are confident that our Christmas range will continue to be best sellers in 2014,” said Sarah-Louise Heslop, marketing manager at Swizzels.
“Our brands make perfect gifts as they are loved by consumers and offer variety and value for money. Our range offers something for all Christmas gifting and family sharing occasions. We encourage retailers to merchandise the range prominently to encourage impulse gift purchasing.”
According to Cloetta UK, the brand owner of Chewits, 70% of sugar confectionery growth is a result of NPD and it’s important for retailers to promote all new Christmas ranges alongside the category top sellers.
“Some figures suggest that seasonal launches can add as much as an extra £12m in sales for retailers,” said Bev Seymour, Cloetta UK’s trade marketing manager.
“To maximise potential sales, retailers should showcase Christmas products in seasonal aisles. This makes space highly premium for brands so they will invest heavily in festive packaging, producing and providing POS, which is great for retailers who don’t have large budgets for extravagant Christmas displays.
“Limited-edition festive products provide something different for consumers as an alternative to standard purchasing of discounted multi-packs. Impulse purchases should be the main focus of the Christmas period when consumers are attracted to festive packaging and deals.”
This year’s Christmas-specific products from the brand include the Chewits selection box and the Chewits Chewbs.
The selection box contains a selection of eight full-size chewy stickpacks, including flavours like Strawberry and Fruit Salad as well as Chewits Xtreme variants.
The Chewits Chewb is shaped like a cracker and contains two Strawberry and two Xtreme Sour Apple stickpacks.
But while considerations of stock and merchandising are important, it’s also worth sparing a thought for chewy sweets’ target customers.
“At Christmas, children often have more disposable income than normal, so retailers can benefit from dedicated kids fixtures and areas, maximising pocket-money sales,” said Seymour.
“Arranging the fixture or area further by price allows children to understand which products they can afford. Retailers should also be aware of the height of the shelves and the overall fixture, so that children can shop it independently.”