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Capture the Sweet Buying from Chocolate Lovers This Holiday

chocolate bar squares

BY NCS Marketing

We’re starting to reach that season—where the occasion always calls for chocolate. Halloween candy. Chocolate turkeys. Chocolate coins. Holiday chocolate. Chocolate gifts. Lousy day. Great day. You catch our drift. You don’t have to twist our arms to get into the celebratory spirit all year round. 

As we approach the holidays—BIG seasons for chocolate—what can candy and confection brands do to reach their buyers through advertising? Here are our top tips from a dive deep into the chocolate data.

1. NO TRICKS—JUST TREATS: CAPTURE THE HEAVIER BUYING

SWEET TIP: Serve ads to your loyal brand buyers who bought throughout the year to encourage heavier buying; mix in some competitive targeting to reach buyers who bought your competitor’s chocolate brand in recent months.

Halloween 2020 was anything but normal, with many neighborhoods skipping in-person trick-or-treating in favor of safer, smaller gatherings. Perhaps unsurprisingly, U.S. chocolate sales for Halloween week 2020 were 7% lower year-over-year, and total October 2020 chocolate candy sales were 4% lower. With Halloween predicted to look more “normal” this year (the CDC says kids can trick-or-treat outside in small groups this year and Dr. Fauci urges kids to enjoy Halloween), expect families to go all out with the treats.

Year-to-date U.S. chocolate sales through September 18, 2021 are already 6% greater year-over-year, and slightly elevated over 2019 levels. Chocolate is outperforming total CPG growth: consumers really went chocolate crazy this summer, buying 8% more chocolate than they did in Summer 2019. 

U.S. chocolate candy sales are on the rise in 2021, elevated compared to 2019 and 2020


2. SHARE THE LOVE THIS HOLIDAY (AND START NOW)

SWEET TIP: Continue your advertising cadence and frequency leading up to Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. If you’re worried about out-of-stock challenges, spread your advertising early in the season to encourage consumers to stock up sooner. 

Though Halloween is typically the prime holiday for chocolate, Christmas week 2020 surpassed Halloween week in chocolate candy sales. Americans stuffed their faces with 3% more chocolate in Q4 2020 compared to Q4 2019. And if Easter is any indicator (Easter 2021 chocolate sales were 19% greater than Easter 2020), it’s going to be a sweet holiday season. The CDC has shared that in-person holiday gatherings are okay if guests are vaccinated, and we expect consumers to gather at higher rates this holiday than last, having tired of the distance. More gatherings mean more chocolate to share!

NCS consumer purchase data shows chocolate sales for most 2021 holidays have surpassed 2020 levels


3. MAKE SURE TO ALIGN YOUR STRATEGY AND YOUR AUDIENCE SEGMENTS

SWEET TIP: Whatever your strategy, build your audience to align with your sales goals to defend, conquest or grow your brand. Want to reach new buyers? Target those who haven’t purchased with you the past year. Losing share to competitors? Serve ads to buyers of their brands or those who recently strayed from yours. 

Consumers moved up and down the loyalty ladder over the past year; use purchase-based targeting to move them back up. Did you know you can combine your custom segments with purchase-based targeting to home in even more on those most likely to respond to your ads? We recognize it is an incredibly challenging season, with supply chain disruptions and rising costs putting extra pressure on your bottom line. In a recent NCS consumer survey, we learned that three-quarters of Americans find it helpful to receive ads for products they have purchased before. Be efficient with your media budget and spend to reach those consumers who are most likely to purchase your chocolate candy and help you achieve your marketing and sales goals. 

With the NCS loyalty ladder you can align your media plan with your sales goals to move customers back up.

For inspiration on how to advertise effectively during this challenging climate, check out our conversation with Ferrero’s SVP, Marketing.

BE INSPIRED BY FERRERO 

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