The supermarket price war has dominated the grocery industry for the past few years, with retailers increasingly attempting to gain an advantage over their cut price rivals including foreign import brands such as Aldi and Lidl. The latest manifestation of this battle represents the lucrative Easter trade, and has seen the average cost of chocolate eggs plummet to just £3.97, a significant drop from last year’s £4.40 average price.
Morrisons was the first to throw down the gauntlet by dropping the price of Easter essentials steeply in a bid to catch up with its Big Four rivals in terms of sales – something the nation’s fourth largest supermarket group has struggled to do for some time now. This forced the other members to play catch-up in order to prevent a seasonal sales dip, with the resulting price drop equating to 9.7 per cent.
According to analysis by brandview.com, supermarkets are even choosing to slash the prices of their own brand Easter eggs, this time by an average of 6 per cent. In part, this has been triggered by the introduction of the Co-Operative’s Easter egg range, which offers consumers the choice of three designs for a relatively pocket friendly £5 each.
However, supermarkets are not the only ones dramatically dropping prices as a means of outsmarting competitors, as the manufacturers of the eggs themselves are fiercely competing for supremacy too.
Cadbury’s, last year’s key driver of Easter egg sales, is not only battling traditional rivals such as Nestle and Thorntons, but new players in the field such as Pot Noodle and Marmite, meaning it has been forced to drop the overall price at the till of its goods by 4.4 per cent.
Even luxury retailers are beginning to get in on the act, many of whom are following in the “alternative” Easter trend of offering savoury snacks in place of chocolate eggs. Fortnum and Mason, for example, has chosen to combine the two taste palates by launching a seasonally exclusive “Chotch” egg – a dark chocolate scotch egg with a rich venison centre.
Easter has always been something of a competitive holiday for the grocery industry, with the mid-season sales boom representing one of the major opportunities for retailers to cash in following the lucrative Christmas trading season. Yet it is only in recent years that the craze has moved out of the confectionary sector and into the mainstream retail industry – clothing and perfume sales, for example, have seen notable rises coinciding with the Easter Bank Holiday in the years since the recession ended.
Unfortunately for the Big Four, however, while their prices may be low it seems that Aldi remains a step ahead in terms of social media presence. The discounter used the shock departure of One Direction member Zayn Malik to drop the price of the band’s branded egg range from 99p to 79p in its UK stores – pointing out that a 20 per cent reduction in band members should be met with a 20 per cent discount.
Do you think consumers will turn to the Big Four for Easter eggs, or will Aldi’s #clever marketing move play well with shoppers?