Picture it. Easter Sunday, you see the box with the shiny tightly wrapped egg trapped inside that you want to liberate. You open the box, get rid of that plastic, take out the egg and unwrap the foil. You can’t resist giving it a quick smell before you crack it open with force and take a bite or two (or three). A yearly excuse to eat your weight in chocolate, with the day fast approaching will Easter be as egg-citing this year?
Looking back at 2016, chocolate lovers everywhere were dealt blow after blow by something now commonly referred to as ‘shrinkflation’.
Taking a moment, let’s recap the most memorable changes so far. In October last year, Terry’s chocolate orange was cut by 10%, just months before the Christmas period began. A few weeks later, Mondelez International increased the gaps between the legendary triangular treat we know as Toblerone. Meanwhile, confectionery giants Mars lived up to their Maltesers slogan ‘the lighter way to enjoy chocolate’. First by cutting down individual bags then moving on to their sharing bags; both within six months.
It was no surprise to hear voices in January questioning what the public should expect come Easter, with many expecting shrinkflation to continue.
Up until now the only egg to be effected has been the Cadbury Creme egg. Following an ingredient change, fans of the gooey treat were saddened to find the pack size dropped from six to five. Would Easter would turn out to be the exception (or should we say, egg-ception?).
With the introduction of giant Kinder Bueno eggs and luxury solid Easter eggs, hopes were raised that Easter was cracking the trend of shrinkflation. However, at least three popular eggs have been identified as being smaller than in previous years; with some being cut by up to a fifth. A Maltesers egg has shrunk by 12%, a Galaxy Egg with Minstrels has been reduced in size by 14% and a Mars and Friends Easter egg has reduced in size by almost 20%!
A recent study by SBXL found that 62% of shoppers will buy an Easter egg this year. Of those buying eggs, a whopping 77% will be doing so from a supermarket.
But what are you really buying? As a long-standing tradition for many, shoppers aren’t buying into the price of an Easter egg. Instead, they’re buying the emotional aspect associated with the chocolate treats. Children and adults alike are consumers come Easter, with no age restriction on the excitement of buying, or receiving an egg.
We know emotional reactions are 3,000x quicker than rational thought. We also know the persuasiveness ratio of emotion to reason is 24:1. Easter is an exciting time, excitement being just one of over 142 emotions. By better understanding this emotional alignment shoppers have with Easter products, you can get a better grasp on how to improve your sales.
Without understanding the strong role emotions undoubtedly play in shopping, it’s easy to assume the right choice is to shrink a product to keep the price the same. Maybe you’ve conducted some research with shoppers who have told you they’d be happy with that. We have news for you… shoppers lie, shoppers get confused and shoppers don’t know what they want. If price was all that mattered, brands wouldn’t succeed.
Let’s think about that. Shoppers know the brand you buy is more expensive than own label options, but they keep buying it regardless. Why? Because they’re emotionally connected to that brand. They know it and trust it. The latter of which is crucial for maintaining a good relationship with shoppers.
Unfortunately, with brands quietly reducing sizes, many shoppers feel they are being ripped off. Leading to devaluing the brand and a decline in that all important shopper trust. Surely the better option would be to keep the products shoppers know and trust and just increase the price. If you’ve done your job right and established trust, your shoppers will still feel the emotional attachment and dig a little deeper. The richer the emotional connection, the more likely a shopper is to continue to buy.
Easter is an exciting time, with potential for a huge emotional draw. We all know advertising can be a powerful way to communicate, so it follows you use this come Easter. With emotionally enticing adverts to all out POS in-store displays, shoppers are pushed to take action and buy. Take a little free advice from SBXL. Instead of persuading shoppers to buy Easter eggs, remind your shoppers of the emotional experience they’ve had with it! This is what will make the real difference in the long term.
Phillip Adcock is the founder and Managing Director of the research agency Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd, a shopping research organisation that uses psychological insight to explain and predict how consumers will behave. SBXL operates in seventeen countries for hundreds of clients including Mars, Tesco, and B&Q.