Mars’ research indicates that the recession is changing people’s purchasing habits and they are going to the shops more often, which is creating more opportunities for impulse buying and affordable indulgence that confectionery taps into.
They are also staying in more but without sacrificing a sense of occasion, which lends itself well to sharing formats such as pouch packaging.
Mars has just published its latest market review and it said that last year the company saw a further increase in sales of its Bitesize products, as sharing confectionery was an “ideal way to enjoy a big night in”.
Also the pouch format taps into a growing sharing sector as research shows that 70 per cent of chocolate consumption happens when with others.
Meanwhile, Richard Peake, Mars UK Impulse Category Controller, said that people are indulging to survive the credit crunch.
He added: “People are actually cutting back on what we call more basic and necessary items to allow them to continue to have more indulgences.
“Years ago people used to save up to allow themselves to have indulgences.
“Now there is instant gratification on indulges.”
He said that for a category like confectionery, which is a low cost way to indulge, there was good reason why it was buoyant and resilient at the moment.
Figures show that the confectionery market is worth more than the crisps, savoury snacks and fizzy drinks markets combined at £4.9bn, and grew 2.2 per cent in 2008.
The leading manufacturer in the confectionery market by share is Cadbury at 29.8 per cent, followed by Mars at 21 per cent.
Sixty eight per cent of confectionery is bought on impulse, which is twice as much as soft drinks and three times as much as crisps.
Mars’ research indicates that consumers are no longer cash-rich and time-poor but cash-poor and time-rich. They are also shopping more locally and going to the shops more often to top-up.
Peake said this could drive confectionery sales as there are more opportunities to create impulse moments, as confectionery is considered an “impulsive category”.
Peake added: “Seven out of ten people who walk out of a store with a confectionery item didn’t know they were going to buy it when they walked in.”
Consumers are also buying in to more promotions, shopping around to manage their spend and moving from premium to discount and value items.
However, Peake added: “People aren’t necessarily looking to buy cheap, they are looking to buy value for money.”
The research also showed that consumers were not prepared to sacrifice their basic ethics and beliefs.
Peake said: “They are really looking for ways to manage their spend and looking for ways to cut back, but they won’t do that by compromising their core values (such as sustainable sourcing).
“When people are finding it hard, they will often draw back to their core principles and buy into brands they know and trust.”