Mars has finally joined the Easter promotion party, but it is rival Cadbury that led the way in confectionery promos this month. With Easter around the corner, confectionery brands have upped promotions to take advantage of this year’s extended season. The 11.2% month-on-month rise in branded promotions was buoyed dramatically by Mars, which has been relatively late to the promotion party this year. Most confectionery manufacturers barely give shoppers time to pull down their Christmas tree before kicking off Easter promos, but Mars had an extremely slow start to 2011, initially offering almost half the number of promotions it did last year (19 compared with 36). In the four weeks to 6 March, however, it upped the stakes, ­increasing the number of deals 202% on the previous month and 8% on last year. This has helped it rise 15 places to fourth in Assosia’s latest Promo Dynamic table.

However, warned Assosia MD Kay Staniland, the late start could have played into the hands of its rivals. Mars has already lost ground to them over the past year, as our 100 Britain’s Biggest Brands list this week reveals (see supplement). Despite a move to slash saturated fats in some of its most popular chocolate bars, it plummeted 20 places the biggest faller on our list after volume sales slumped 13.9% and value fell 14.2%. In the Promo Dynamic rankings, Cadbury reclaimed its position as the biggest promoting brand after posting an 82.6% month-on-month increase in deals. Nestlé also boosted support for its Easter confectionery portfolio, increasing its deals 6.8% (although they were down 26.5% on last year).

While it climbed one place, Walkers jumped four, thanks to a 78.8% month-on-month uplift in deals. The total number of promotions was 10% higher month-on-month and up 6% year-on year. “We’re seeing extreme promotional activity at the moment because the consumer goods industry as a whole is trying to use promotions as a compensator for price because prices are being forced upwards,” says Aidan Bocci, CEO of consultancy Commercial Advantage.

Despite CEO Martin Glenn’s declaration last year that promotions were “really important to frozen”, Birds Eye fell from first place to fifth, having cut its number of deals 28.9% month-on-month. Nescafé’s mainstay coffee jars were the most constantly promoted products, according to Assosia, and the launch of its sachets and specialities helped push the brand up 10 places this month.

Published in The Grocer, 12 March 2011

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