Choc’s not just for Christmas

When it comes to shifting confectionery, the festive period is traditionally a time when consumers are on the lookout for something sweet. But as Ferrero’s Head of Wholesale Jodie Wood explains, there are plenty of other opportunities coming up

There’s no doubt that chocolate can solve a lot of the world’s problems. The difficult birthday present, a nightmare day at work or even just that pang for something sweet.

And Christmas is one of the biggest opportunities for confectionery, with more gifting and celebrations as the nation lets its hair down. So, with wholesalers, retailers and manufacturers preparing for the big day, it’s crucial that communication channels along the supply line are functioning properly to maximise sales to ensure they’re hitting all the key drivers at this time of year.


Ferrero’s Christmas campaign is gathering pace. What’s the big opportunity this year?

Christmas is a really big opportunity for confectionery and specifically Ferrero. We have a lot of products that play really well in the seasonal space, with Thorntons, our Rocher and Raffaello products, Kinder, as well as our increasing novelty range.

If you think about the Christmas confectionery around novelty, such as a Grand Rocher, or a product to treat yourself with, like a Kinder Joy, or something to share with family or go to dinner with, we play in all the key shopper missions. What we want to do is work with our wholesalers to make it as easy as possible for retailers to understand which range they should be stocking and how to merchandise them in their store.


How can this be translated to retailers?

When we talk to retailers, they tell us that confectionery is an area they need help with. It’s an important category, but they don’t always think they’re maximising their sales. Going back a few years, retailers felt seasonal wasn’t for them and it was more about the grocers, but increasingly it’s becoming more relevant for independent and convenience stores, so there’s a big opportunity for wholesalers to work with them.

Traditionally Ferrero has been strong in the depots at Christmas, whether it’s great activation in the fixture with great POS category messages and retailer education pieces, or impactful front-of-depot displays. Our big gold Rocher displays are quite famous in the trade for signalling the start of Christmas, but we’re taking it further this year with a retailer competition to win a sparkling store makeover worth £4,000, which we hope will drive wholesale sales.


Is communication between wholesalers and retailers important in promoting this?

We know retailers trust their wholesalers, so that relationship is crucial – be that messaging in the depot, talking to depot staff or even seeing something on wholesalers’ websites that provides information. It gives retailers that confidence in what they’re doing and that their wholesaler really understands what they’re doing. Wholesalers are uniquely placed to work in partnership with retailers to drive sales, and as a brand that’s something we want to support them with.


How is Ferrero currently performing in the channel?

We’ve seen really good, consistent growth in our portfolio for a number of years. Our market share has more than doubled since 2013 and last year Christmas was huge for us, and we saw the Ferrero brand grow by £8.6m. When we talk to consumers, they tell us that Ferrero products remain a staple in their households at Christmas.

For us, it’s about making sure our brands are out there, available and visible. We’re also refreshing the brands and coming up with innovations around the seasonal occasion.

It’s not just about Christmas. We know it’s big, so is Easter, Valentine’s and Mothers’ Day, but in some areas we’re seeing Diwali as the biggest opportunity of the year – over and above Christmas. When we talk to retailers, we’re hearing a lot of them don’t engage with their customers around Diwali, but we know that boxes of chocolate are the most common gift during the Asian festivals, so we’re working with wholesalers to maximise the opportunity. Ferrero Rocher is particularly well placed for that with the gold packaging and looks fantastic in depot, which we know retailers get excited about. It’s another opportunity that retailers say they know exists, but don’t know how to do it and want to work with wholesalers to maximise that.


Premiumisation is entering every category. How is Ferrero adapting?

We’ve seen that shoppers are looking for new ways to enjoy their favourite brands around the seasons. A great example of this is how the wholesale trade has embraced our Grand Rocher product and that’s worked really well for Diwali and Christmas. Likewise, our Kinder Chocolate Santa is something kids love – it’s their favourite brand and it’s an innovative way to enjoy it at Christmas.


With health more important, how will this impact sales?

In many ways, Ferrero is ahead of the curve because we’ve always produced products in small portions. If you look at Kinder Bueno, for example, the two fingers are individually wrapped to eat one now and another later. Our products are treats – they’re not for every day – they’re little moments of pleasure that are responsibly portioned. We believe there is a place for that within a balanced diet.

Consumers are always looking at ways to have a treat. It’s absolutely right that people are evaluating their diets and ensure they’re making responsible choices, but treating does have a role to play with that if it’s at the right portion size and a responsible frequency.


While depot activations stand out, what can wholesalers do for customers who shop online?

We all know how to activate in depot and make fascia and displays look fantastic, but the challenge for the channel is how we engage with retailers who aren’t walking into the depot. We need to make sure they see NPD and have the right category advice, and we’re excited to see that wholesalers are tapping into the digital market.

It’s about manufacturers having the right conversations with wholesalers and engaging with their marketing teams, and making sure there’s clear messaging. What is so exciting about online is the depth you can go to – in depot, there’s a limit on how much you can put on one piece of POS. For retailers online, you can link to Ferrero’s digital site to get category advice or do a deeper dive for bespoke solutions. Wholesalers are primed to help and provide advice and information.


What is Ferrero doing to support wholesalers with this?

It’s important for wholesalers to understand the category support we give them. We know retailers want support for confectionery, but also that wholesalers can’t be experts in every category, so they need us as their supplier to work with them. We’ve developed a Shopper Experience Centre that has a typical store that can be laid out to any retailer’s planogram, but also a virtual reality suite, so wholesalers thinking of refreshing their depot layout or considering new ways of merchandising can experiment virtually first.

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