Sales of Hovis loaves soared £56.9m, up 14.6% on last year to £445.8m winning market share as the total bread category managed only a £49.7m increase in total. Hovis' resurgence, after a paltry 1.9% growth in 2008, meant it took the crown of biggest riser from rival Warburtons, whose growth slowed to 0.9% , narrowing the gap between the loaves to £135.8m from £187.8m last year.
In a year own label was predicted to flourish, Hovis was one of a number of big brands to put in strong performances while own label lost market share.
Other big winners this year included Heineken UK's Foster's and Strongbow, Danone Activia yoghurts, First Cape wine and Cadbury's Wispa.
The growth demonstrates the dramatic impact advertising and promotions can have. Hovis launched a nostalgic sequel to its blockbuster 'Go on Lad' ad in June, this time featuring a young girl. Foster's, which leapfrogged Carling to take second place in the lager league, also went for consumers' emotions, albeit with a more humorous advertising approach.
● Value sales across the Top Products categories
rose 4.6% overall
● The biggest growth
came from branded
products, which rose 5.0% in value
● Own label lost market
share, falling from 26.7% of the value of the
categories to 26.5%
● The category with the
biggest increase in value sales was canned
● The category with the
biggest fall in value sales was juice drinks and
Heineken stablemate Strongbow was able to build on the continued popularity of cider and perry. The category grew 16.4%, assisted by the 21.9% increase in sales of its biggest player. Walkers crisps demonstrated that consumer engagement is key with its Do Us A Flavour contest contributing to a £38.6m uplift in sales.
In the already heavily promoted wine category, First Cape showed the strategy's efficacy. The South African brand was the second-biggest promoter across all alcohol, despite sitting sixth in the Top Products wine table, and saw a 79% sales uplift coinciding with a 200% increase in featured space promotions [Assosia].
And despite a defensive approach taken to NPD by many brands in the recession, two of the biggest sales rises came from newcomers Ariel Excel Gel and the re-released Wispa.
Sainsbury's trading director Mike Coupe confirmed Ariel Excel Gel and Wispa had been two of the most successful launches of the year. "Wispa has worked particularly well for us," he said.
Ariel Excel Gel hit £35m in its first full year through tapping into environmental concerns. The Turn to 30 campaign enabled consumers to feel they were doing their bit, without sacrificing cleaning results.
However, the success of Excel Gel appears to have come at the expense of the rest of the Ariel portfolio, with value falling across every other format.
Ariel wasn't the only brand to see values fall Gallo wine tumbled £36.3m, Pork Farms fell £30.1m, while Wrigley Extra and Innocent were hit by declining sales of chewing gum and smoothies.
We’re dangerously not in love with... chewing gum
It's cheap and cheerful, but chewing gum is proving one of the surprise victims of the recession. Sales of market leader Wrigley's Extra plummeted by £21.4m, or 12%, to £153.9m.
Wrigley's Orbit also lost more than 5% of sales. And despite signing up Beyoncé as brand ambassador in May, Cadbury's Trident brand slumped by 27%, or £7.1m. Jonathan Summerley, senior buyer at Hancocks, said consumers were "confused" by a congested fixture and over-premiumisation. "We're not big gum eaters as a nation. Here it does a job. It's not seen as an indulgent item."
The drop in sales could also be down to hard-up consumers switching to nostalgic sweets, said brand agency The Value Engineers. "In this climate, heartwarming appeal is a more important sales driver than functional branding," said a spokesman.
Top Products Survey 2009