As the weather has turned colder, has brands’ appetite for featured space cooled off too? The ranking has barely moved over the past four weeks, and many brands have reduced activity month on month.

This could suggest retailers are deciding to stick with the big brands that the majority of shoppers know and want – or “potentially a lack of brands willing to pay for the promotional featured space,” says Assosia MD Kay Staniland.

But the current stability must not lull brand owners into complacency, she warns. “With some consumers spending more time looking for the cheapest products and best offers, branded suppliers need to be extremely careful not to be pushed into discounting too heavily for one retailer, as the others will very quickly want – or need – to follow suit,” she says. “So it’s important that brands retain a balance on cost savings offered while retaining different promotional mechanics across each of the major multiples.”

Some brands have made significant changes to their promotional strategy over the past year. Cadbury ran no bogofs during the four weeks to 10 August 2013 but this year bogofs account for nearly 10% of all its deal activity during the equivalent period. At the same time, it’s dialled back on x-for-y deals, now at 32.9% of all its deals – down from 53% a year ago.

By contrast, Nestlé has cut back on bogofs and increased x-for-y, from 11.4% of all deals last year to 16.8% this year.

Across the sector, basic single product price cuts continue to be the favoured mechanic for seven of the top 10 most promoted brands, with only Coca-Cola, Walkers and Wall’s opting for volume-shifting x-for-ys.

‘Save’ accounted for almost 50% of all featured space promotions in the four weeks to 10 August, up nine percentage points year on year from 39.7% to 48.7%. Meanwhile, x-for-y accounted for 30% of all deals, with ‘half price’ at a third of all activity. wine remains the most promoted category, accounting for 10.9% of all deals – up from 10.2% a year ago. 

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