Chocolate remains one of the most impulsive categories in the petrol and convenience (P&C) channel, driven by strength in brand innovation and in-store product placement.  

The chocolate segment has proved resilient over the past 12 months, dropping slightly in the first half of 2020 before improving as restrictions relaxed and foot traffic normalised.

For the April/May issue of Convenience & Impulse Retailing magazine, we spoke with Danielle Gaylard, Customer Development Head at Mars Wrigley, about their strategy within the P&C channel.

C&I: How important is the P&C channel to Mars Wrigley?

Gaylard: The convenience channel is a critical part of our network as it is the gateway to our consumers. With over half the nation passing through the doors of a P&C retailer each week, we aim to deliver creative growth and drive recruitment through new brand experiences. We are proud of our strong relationships we have with our convenience retailers and continually are working with them to create a better experience for their shoppers with our world class global brands.

C&I: What are your strongest performing products in the channel? Do you have any data available on how your brands are performing within the chocolate bar category?

Gaylard: With the impact of OVID-19 to our market we are seeing accelerated growth of our sharing formats with consumers spending more time at home.

In the Bitesize Chocolate segment M&Ms is growing at 4.3 per cent, Maltesers at 9.8 per cent and Pods at 18.6 per cent. In sugar sharing, Skittles is growing by 37 per cent (Nielsen Scan MAT 07.02.21).

With 42 per cent value share of Total Confectionery in Convenience, chocolate bars remain critically important for the channel.

The Mars and Snickers branded King Bars make up two of the top four SKUs in Convenience Confectionery and the Mars King Bar portfolio (which includes Snickers, Mars, Twix and Bounty) accounts for six per cent of all confectionery sales across the channel despite only being a range of four SKUs.  

C&I: Have you noticed any trends within the chocolate category in P&C over the last 12 months? Are there any emerging trends, or any changes in consumer expectations?

Gaylard: Throughout 2020 we saw an acceleration in confectionery that was bought for sharing occasions. People are spending more time than ever at home and spending family time together on the couch so products like a big of Maltesers or M&Ms were a big hit. We know that when times are tough, Australians often look for that small treat to reward themselves and break up the mundane chores of life, like filling up at the petrol station. So, bars played a critical role in surprising and delighting our Aussies through a tough year.

We also saw fast adoption of home delivery options through the convenience industry, which drive incremental sales to in-store. As restrictions have eased across Australia, we continue to see growth in this space especially in larger sharing confectionery formats.

C&I: Is there anything Mars Wrigley Australia has recently launched or is about to launch? Do you have any activity planned specifically for the P&C channel?

Gaylard: We have some exciting consumer led innovation on our three biggest bar brands this year, Mars, Snickers and Twix. We know consumers love a trusted brand with a slight twist and we have some exciting innovation on it is way to convenience stores!

C&I: Do you have any advice for retailers when it comes to positioning and selling chocolate bars in-store?

Gaylard: Chocolate bars are one of the most impulsive categories in your store. Shoppers don’t think about it and won’t search for it, but when it is in front of them at the point of purchase, they will pick it up. This is one of your most effective ways to get your shoppers to spend more in your store. Use new flavours to attract attention and break shoppers out of their shopping trance, but don’t forget to display with the core brands as they will deliver you the bulk of your sales. Shoppers will try the new and exciting but will generally revert back to the core because it reminds them how much they love the original.

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