How much of the market do the multiples command? According to Mintel they now account for more than 50% of sales, while TNS says they have a 61% share by value, headed by Tesco then Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, the hard discounters and Waitrose.

Merchandising typically follows a standard format of one main battery display at the end of an aisle near to the checkouts. In many multiples Duracell dominates, sometimes taking up as much as 50% of the display, indicative of both its marketing muscle and consumer recognition of it as a signpost brand.

One issue with batteries is that the displays can be confusing. And the greater the variety of cell stocked – such as speciality, coin and hearing aid cells – the more confusing it can become.

“Visibility is key. Batteries thrive on impulse-led purchases,” says Nick Powell, managing director at Energizer. “We understand that there’s only so much space available. But it’s not necessarily about more and bigger, it can be about clarity and impact. For example by having a technology flow from left to right, from low-end to high-end, and putting in icons to help people link the batteries to the product, you can make the fixture more attractive.”

He cites the battery section of the Argos catalogue as an example of the ‘power bar’ format that retailers could successfully adopt in store. “We invest a lot of time talking to retailers and getting them to try new things, including trialling different formats.”

Multiples are also learning from the sales generation methods employed by stores such as Wilkinson (see boxout below) and B&Q, which overtrade in batteries by 590% and 330% respectively [TNS]. These stores bristle with secondary sites and clip strips in aisles where battery-powered products are sold, and they also have batteries at till points. B&Q in particular makes use of ‘don’t forget…’ signage around the outlet to stimulate product pick-up

Some of these methods are already evident at larger Tesco and Asda stores. The Asda visited by The Grocer had Energizer batteries in the five most commonly purchased cell sizes at every till, while Tesco Extra had six Duracell 6x2 displays around its non-food section, as well as a display within the electronic games section.

However, the credit crunch could hit sales, warns Jim Clark, senior market analyst at Mintel. There is a trend, he says, for shoppers to use online ordering as a method of sticking to their shopping lists and budgets. Given that battery purchases are often triggered by visual reminders, sales could suffer as a result.