batteries unsplash

Batteries’ power appears to be waning in grocery

Batteries’ power appears to be waning in grocery. With less at-home use of remote controls and gaming systems since lockdowns ended, it’s probably no surprise the category has mustered just 0.4% in value growth.

A closer look at the data, however, shows the weak performance is down to a 12.1% decline by own label. Brands’ value is up by a relatively robust 2.5% – and it’s market leaders Duracell and Energizer that are largely responsible. They’ve grown by 5.1% and 3.5% respectively. That’s the equivalent of £9.1m between them, as shoppers continued to favour trusted brands.

“We have seen the biggest share gain compared to our closest competitors,” says Duracell marketing director Christina Turner, pointing to the brand’s 2.4 percentage point gain to take 54% of market value.

“We have the strongest brand in the category and, as we’ve seen in other categories over the past year, people tend to turn to brands they trust in times of difficulty.”

Duracell has been doing its best to reinforce that trust, with the launch of its Optimum range (see below), the relaunch of Duracell Plus with an extended battery life, and sustained marketing investment. The brand is also running an education push around the child safety issues raised by lithium batteries.

Supply chain resilience has also been crucial to sales performance, adds Turner. Having a manufacturing base in nearby Belgium has given Duracell an advantage as global shipping routes have become clogged.

“We are closer than our competitors,” she says. “We had been preparing for Brexit before 2020 to build up stock. Having manufacturing closer to home means we can be more reactive and haven’t been as affected by the broader shipping crisis.”

Meanwhile, Energizer – which makes its batteries in China and the US – has grown market share by a smaller 0.9 percentage points to 29.4%.

“There has been a usage shift from batteries being purchased as a potential stock-up to being purchased for immediate use,” says David Cautley, the brand’s marketing director for modern markets.

“Lockdown has seen increased usage of battery powered devices such as remote controls, portable lights, gaming devices, clocks, children’s games and toys, home health/medical devices and radios. Many shoppers have also opted for larger pack formats, and this has led to an increase in average weight of purchase.”

Now Covid restrictions are well and truly over, battery sales are showing signs of normalising, suggests NielsenIQ analytics executive Rebecca Hallam.

“Since the ease of restrictions in May, battery sales have dipped slightly but are returning to normal base sales as prior to Covid,” she says. “In the latest four weeks, Duracell is losing sales and Energizer is in growth.”

And its good news for number three brand Panasonic, which lost most value over the past year. The brand slumped by 25.8% “despite its average price falling by 10.6%” Hallam notes. “Its biggest decline was during lockdown, but it’s showing recovery in the latest four weeks.”

Top launch 2021

Optimum | Duracell

Duracell Optimum

Duracell played a blinder with the launch of the Optimum range in July. Not only do the 1.5-volt AA and AAA batteries offer “up to 200% extra life”, they also promise better performance in the appliances they power. That means torches shine brighter and radio-controlled cars go faster, says the batteries leader, which has shifted an extra 1.1 million units through the mults in the past year. Optimum’s rsps range from £5.50 for a four-pack to £13 for a 12-pack.

The Grocer’s Top Products Survey 2021: who’s up, who’s down – and our overview of the key trends