Batteries GettyImages-1204642510

Battery sales have plunged. The category has lost £22.7m on the back of a 19.9% decline in volumes. It’s understandable, though.

Lockdowns demanded extra power for TV remote controls, gaming devices and myriad other electrical items in the home.

With Brits out and about once more – and many kitchen drawers still brimming with stockpiled batteries – 7.3 million fewer packs went through grocery tills.

As a result, many brands have taken a hit – and none more so than top two Duracell and Energizer. They’ve shed £24m between them, compounded by the loss of distribution and promotional support in major retailers since the lockdown ended.

However, market leader Duracell is looking to bounce back, with deals once again on the cards, notes NielsenIQ senior client analyst Rebecca Hallam.

“Duracell is seeing signs of recovery due to a push in promotions, as promotions are key for the category’s success in driving incrementality and shopper retention,” she says.

For its part, Duracell says recent trading has been positive, with a focus on consolidating the success of its high-power Optimum batteries and improving availability. “We have translated our mission to be the undisputed choice that powers people’s life through last year’s launch of Duracell Optimum, and the continued attention on child safety through our lithium coin battery innovation and campaigns,” says a spokesman. “With our store-wide strategy and focus on availability, we made it easier for shoppers to find us.”

Greater availability has also been key to third-placed Panasonic’s sales this past year. The brand’s grown volumes by 17.5% after recovering distribution lost during the pandemic.

A lower average price per pack than its two bigger rivals will likely have helped too – though price is not as big a driver in batteries as one might expect, suggests Andrew Beaumont, commercial director of batteries wholesaler Supreme.

Even with high inflation and a cost of living crisis in full flow, there has not been a noticeable trend in shoppers trading down, he says.

“Consumers are still staying brand loyal on the basis that they know the leading brands are delivering products that give them value in respect of high performance. This is what you need in modern appliances.”

Beaumont’s observation is reflected in our data, which shows numerous cheaper brands, including Eveready and Varta, have suffered significant declines.

Rather than switching brands, price savvy consumers are buying larger packs, which represent better value. Packs of 12 AA and AAA batteries are declining at a slower rate than four-packs, which are showing double-digit decline.

Another reason for this, says Beaumont, is Brits preparing for the worst, with the UK at risk of energy shortages and power cuts in coming months.

“If people are thinking about potential blackouts over the winter, and need to have batteries in reserve, they want to make sure that those batteries are performing as they would expect.”

Top Launch 2022

Plastic-free packs | Energizer

Energizer recyclable packaging TP

Innovation in batteries was thin on the ground this year – making this launch by Energizer all the more notable. The brand has axed plastic from the majority of its products, switching to 100% recyclable cardboard across ranges including Max and Ultimate Lithium. Unveiled in May, the revamp uses up to 50% post-consumer recycled material. It’s the result of investing “significant R&D time and energy into reducing the environmental footprint of our batteries”, says Energizer.

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