Suppliers have been redesigning packaging to help consumers choose the right type of batteries, and merchandising also has a big role to play in ensuring confused shoppers don't go home empty-handed.

Energizer suggests using a colour-coded power bar on the fixture to illustrate suitable uses for different types of battery to help consumers choose the right one. Retailers should avoid stocking too many different brands at the same price point, suggests Varta, but should stock a primary and secondary brand to give shoppers choice.

PoS can also help shoppers select the right battery, which is why Varta has developed standalone displays with information wings, product choice wheels and information panels for shelf edges. The company also says about 80% of fixture space should go to AA and AAA. As devices have got smaller, the need for the larger C and D cells has shrunk. In today's market, more than half the cells sold are AA size, and there is a shift towards the smaller AAA and AAAA.

"Devices are getting more energy-efficient and are using smaller battery sizes," says Uniross MD Mike Doole. Batteries are often 75% of the time according to Varta an impulse purchase rarely on a shopping list. Secondary locations are important, particularly in the festive season as about 35% of a year's sales come in the last quarter, with shoppers loading up on cells to accompany Christmas presents.

The split between the main fixture and secondary sites can be as much as 50:50, says Panasonic UK sales manager Tim Clark. And the impulse nature of the market makes c-stores an important retail channel. "C-stores, forecourts and corner shops play a big part in helping to drive sales" says Varta UK divisional vice president Vince Armitage.

Focus On Batteries