Easter Eggs: A family affair?

It’s hard to miss the chocolate element that accompanies Easter, with supermarkets lining the shelves with a variety of egg-shaped offerings – and in keeping with tradition, many parents give the treat a seasonal “pass”. Mintel’s research shows just under a third of UK consumers buy Easter eggs for children, whether their own or relatives. The propensity to buy Easter eggs for children is highest among consumers who are likely to be parents or grandparents, with 36% of 35-44 and 65+ year olds giving Easter eggs to children.

Although children are the main recipients of Easter eggs, the treats are by no means restricted only to them. In fact, nearly two fifths of Brits gift Easter eggs to adults, with consumers aged 55-64 the most likely to do so. This age range are often parents of adult children, looking for a nostalgic way to share the holiday, reminding both parents and children of their younger years and their established holiday traditions.

Re-imagining the Easter egg for adults

In order to engage the adult recipients of Easter eggs and to make the Easter egg category a little more “adult friendly” by avoiding the cartoon themes and bright colours that are often on display, a number of manufacturers have been experimenting with more sophisticated products.

Examples of new Easter egg launches that are aimed squarely at more mature audiences, include two products by Unilever, a relatively new player in the Easter egg market, both of which launched in 2015. Unilever teamed up with chocolate manufacturer Kinnerton to introduce a Marmite chocolate egg and a Pot Noodle egg, leveraging two of the food giant’s most popular brands. According to Rachel Wyatt, a spokesperson for Kinnerton, “Easter isn’t just for kids. We want to bring fun to Easter fixtures by using these two iconic brands.” The launches follow on from Univerlever’s 2014 foray into Easter eggs, launching three eggs that played off the popular Magnum, Cornetto and Mini Milk ice cream brands.

Whilst a Marmite egg was always likely to garner headlines, due to its off-beat flavour juxtaposition of savoury spread and chocolate and the fact that it already divides opinion so strongly, Unilever is not the first company to challenge the traditional perception of the Easter egg. In 2014, Ireland-based Lir introduced Easter eggs flavoured with Guinness beer, whilst in the Netherlands, Lidl launched a whiskey-filled Easter egg and Albert Heijn opted for a mango red chili variety.

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These unusual offerings are likely to appeal to the adventurous chocolate eater. This could bode well for the 14% of UK chocolate eaters who are interested in chocolates with unusual flavours and the just over a fifth who are put off by chocolate with fillings that are too sweet.

Easter eggs under scrutiny

Although Easter eggs tailored to suit a more adult palette are picking up pace, Easter eggs as a whole have been under siege over the past few years. Price hikes for chocolate have made headline news and consumers have become sensitive Easter egg shoppers, to the extent that more than third look to buy Easter eggs on promotions and just over a quarter agree they are not good value for money.

With consumers increasingly aware of their impact on the environment, the excess packaging of Easter eggs has also come under scrutiny. And if that wasn’t enough to challenge the market, childhood obesity and concerns about children eating too much confectionary has driven manufacturers to rethink product launches.

Although Easter eggs tailored to suit a more adult palette are picking up pace, Easter eggs as a whole have been under siege over the past few years. Price hikes for chocolate have made headline news and consumers have become sensitive Easter egg shoppers, to the extent that more than third look to buy Easter eggs on promotion and just over a quarter agree they are not good value for money.

With consumers increasingly aware of their impact on the environment, the excess packaging of Easter eggs has also come under scrutiny. And if that wasn’t enough to challenge the market, childhood obesity and concerns about children eating too much confectionary has driven manufacturers to rethink product launches.

Although Easter, like Halloween and other child-focused holidays, is often overlooked by parents as a treat and decide that kids should be allowed to indulge “just for the holiday”, there is a move towards healthier treats for kids even at Easter. UK supermarkets are recognising this shift and responding to it. UK supermarket Sainsbury’s, for example, suggests that parents organise an Easter egg hunt, hiding “small eggs” and that “for every five eggs kids collect, ask them to complete a physical challenge, like doing 20 star jumps.”

Some manufacturers are looking beyond targeting children altogether and are instead focusing on the adult Easter egg market – which may be a good place to focus, given the global trend toward government intervention in eating habits, as outlined in Mintel’s Supernanny State trend. And, if recent regulation in Mexico and Brazil are any indication, where the government has stepped in to reduce the exposure of children to unhealthy snacks, Easter egg manufacturers in the UK may start to refocus at least some of their products to engage more mature Easter egg recipients.

Mintel’s Director of Insight, Food and Drink, Marcia has been with Mintel since 2000. Her expertise center on a number of areas in confectionery and snacks. She also has a deep understanding of consumer demographics, having previously served as an associate editor for American Demographics magazine. Before joining Mintel, Marcia headed her own consulting company which focused on consumer behavior and product innovation in a wide range of industries.

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