Candy Concerns and the Early 2016 Easter  6/10/2015

Kids may have a harder time finding Easter eggs next year – not because they are well-hidden, but because their parents can’t find them on the store shelves as candy buyers and sellers say they might reduce the amount of holiday-specific items they sell due to 2016’s super-early Easter.

That was the sentiment of many buyers and sellers who attended ECRM’s Seasonal Candy – Valentine’s Day and Easter EPPS, held last week in Aventura, Fla. During ECRM Event Debriefings – one-on-one meetings with ECRM staff – attendees were asked about trends, challenges, and opportunities in the category.

Some of the industry trends they noted were licensing, an increase in natural and healthy options, the demand for smaller case packs and the popularity of larger stand-up bags. But the chief topic on almost everybody’s mind was the early 2016 Easter holiday and the challenges it poses.

“Timing is a huge challenge next year,” said one seller. “That changes your discussions with retailers, as they want to keep everyday candy on the shelf.”

The concern among buyers, is that with the shorter selling period for Easter Candy, they don’t want to be left with excess inventory that’s no longer relevant.

Fortunately, there are some options for both retailers and sellers that can help get the most from next year’s early holiday while minimizing the risk of having a pile of discounted products on March 28. Here they are”

  • Focus on products, packaging and merchandising that have longevity: While seasonal novelty items are an important part of any holiday assortment, for the 2016 Easter season, retailers may want to leverage some everyday candy items that can perform “double-duty” as Easter holiday items as well. For example, while Hersheys has holiday-specific products, it also sells Kisses wrapped in festive colors that can be sold on Easter but will still be relevant after the holiday. Sellers can develop Easter-related sleeves for their packaging that can be pulled off after the holidays to extend their selling period. Everyday candy on holiday-themed shippers can also help. When Easter is over, the shippers go, but the candy stays. 
  • “Spring” ahead: Some retailers are leaning more toward “spring” promotions versus “Easter” promotions to extend the selling window, so sellers may want to tailor their offerings to this.
  • Increase everyday candy promotions before the holiday: According to ECRM Ad Comparisons data for the 2015 Easter season, Seasonal Candy represented 8.7 percent of all Easter promotions, with novelty items representing more than half of that. For the 2016 season, retailers and suppliers might want to change this mix to reflect the increased push toward non-holiday items.
  • Leverage the premium trend. Premium items don’t have to be holiday-themed to serve as great holiday gifts
  • Focus on tight forecasting and inventory control: For those holiday-themed items, buyers, merchandisers, and category managers should work closely with their supply chain folks to optimize their assortment and amounts they order, taking into account the early holiday.
  • Go big or go home with novelty: Instead of worrying about the early Easter, embrace it and make your stores THE go-to destination for all things Easter, with strong promotions, large displays, and a larger variety of Easter novelty items than anyone else in your market. Kids do love Easter-themed candies, and if your stores have more of them than anyone else in your market, word will get around. Sure, there is greater risk of leftover product, but with the right assortment and inventory control, there is also a greater potential reward in terms of larger margins.
SELLERS: SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS! -- How are you planning to work with retailers to address their Early Easter concerns? Click the link below to add your comments,

Next year's Candy Planning - Valentines's Day and Easter will be held June 5 to June 7 in Tampa, Fla. Click here for more information, or to register.

Joseph Tarnowski

VP Content

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