Lock, stock and (biscuit) barrel!

FMI has unveiled its research on Ireland's favourite biscuit brands
FMI has unveiled its research on Ireland's favourite biscuit brands

Field Management Ireland (FMI) has subsequently conducted exclusive research for ShelfLife, examining consumers’ biscuit preferences. Canvassing the views of 106 shoppers (45 men and 61 women), the research delves into key questions, such as the most effective promotions, favourite biscuit types, the most popular occasions for eating biscuits, and consumers’ verdicts on retailers’ own-brand ranges...


Brand Central

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22 September 2015

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Surveys Completed No. %
Completed 106 100.00%
Gender No. %
Male 45 42.45%
Female 61 57.55%
Age Bracket No. %
20– 24 16 15.09%
25 – 29 38 35.85%
30 – 34 19 17.92%
35 – 39 9 8.49%
40 – 44 12 11.32%
45 – 49 6 5.66%
50+ 6 5.66%
Please name your favourite biscuit brand No. %
Mcvities 21 23.33%
Cadburys Chocolate Fingers 11 12.22%
Oreos 10 11.11%
Fox’s 7 7.78%
Jacobs 5 5.56%
Toffeepops 4 4.44%
Belvita 3 3.33%
Digestives 3 3.33%
Jaffa Cakes 3 3.33%
Mikado 3 3.33%
Borboun 2 2.22%
Hob Knob 2 2.22%
Arnotts 1 1.11%
Chocolate Digestive 1 1.11%
Chocolate Goldgrain 1 1.11%
Cookies 1 1.11%
Custard Cream 1 1.11%
Dont Buy Biscuits 1 1.11%
Ginger Nuts 1 1.11%
Kimberly 1 1.11%
M & S Cookies 1 1.11%
Marks And Spencer Cookies 1 1.11%
Maryland 1 1.11%
Rich Tea 1 1.11%
Ritz 1 1.11%
Supervalu Custard Creams 1 1.11%
Tesco Own Brand 1 1.11%
Tuc Crackers 1 1.11%
Would you be brand loyal? No. %
No 72 67.92%
Yes 34 32.08%
How often do you buy biscuits? No. %
Weekly 26 24.53%
Fortnightly 26 24.53%
Monthly 54 50.94%
What would be the main reason for your purchase behaviour? No. %
Dietary reasons 15 11.19%
Routine snacking 28 20.90%
Treats for family & friends 47 35.07%
Special occasions (parties) 20 14.93%
Cupboard filler 24 17.91%
When choosing your biscuits type, what would be the most important consideration? No. %
Biscuit brand 7 6.60%
Nutritional value 11 10.38%
Pack size 6 5.66%
Packaging 1 0.94%
Price 19 17.92%
Taste 62 58.49%
What times would you normally consume biscuits? No. %
Breakfast 7 5.34%
Mid morning snack 9 6.87%
Lunchtime 6 4.58%
Afternoon snack 32 24.43%
Dinner 5 3.82%
After dinner snack 72 54.96%
When shopping do you choose branded biscuits, or do you prefer shop own label? No. %
Private own labels 6 5.66%
Branded biscuits 34 32.08%
Both 66 62.26%
Which retailers do you think do the best own brand range? No. %
Lidl 32 16.08%
M&S Foodhall 31 15.58%
Supervalu 31 15.58%
Tesco 29 14.57%
Aldi 27 13.57%
Dunnes 23 11.56%
SPAR 12 6.03%
Centra 10 5.03%
Applegreen 1 0.50%
Costcutter 1 0.50%
Iceland 1 0.50%
Londis 1 0.50%
Gala 0 0.00%
Mace 0 0.00%
What are your favourite biscuit types? No. %
Plain biscuits (these are uncoated & unfilled but could be flavoured) 17 9.50%
Filled biscuits (these are filled with jam, fruit pastes, cream etc) 31 17.32%
Chocolate coated biscuits 44 24.58%
Savoury biscuits & crackers (normally consumed with cheese & other savoury foods) 16 8.94%
Cookies 53 29.61%
Specialised biscuits 9 5.03%
Breakfast biscuits 9 5.03%
What do you consider the most effective channel for driving awareness for new biscuit brands? No. %
Newspapers 1 0.94%
Internet 11 10.38%
Magazines 3 2.83%
Radio 1 0.94%
Televisions 30 28.30%
Billboards 3 2.83%
In-store tastings 57 53.77%
What is your average monthly spending on biscuits? No. %
Less than €5 39 36.79%
€5 – €10 47 44.34%
€11 – €15 10 9.43%
€16 – €20 6 5.66%
€21+ 4 3.77%
Where do you purchase your biscuits? No. %
Convenience stores 10 9.43%
Discounters 31 29.25%
Supermarkets 65 61.32%
Do biscuit promotions influence your purchase behaviour? No. %
Yes 72 67.92%
No 34 32.08%
What promotions do you think work best for biscuit purchases? No. %
Price – offs 55 51.89%
Bonus Packs – (Buy one get one free: BOGOF) 50 47.17%
Increased pack size 25 23.58%
Sampling 28 26.42%
In – and – on pack coupons 2 1.89%
Competitions & prize draws 4 3.77%


Male consumers

45% of males believe branding to be important when buying biscuits with 31% believing it not to be important

33% of males thought packaging was important when buying biscuits with 35% saying it was not important

51% of males said that nutritional value was important when buying biscuits with 36% saying it was not important

73% of males believe price to be important when buying biscuits with only 8% deeming it not important

49% of males believed quantity was important when buying biscuits, leaving 31% to believe it not to be important


Female consumers

42% of females believe branding to be important when buying biscuits with 23% believing it not to be important

26% of females thought packaging was important when buying biscuits with 23% saying it was not important

40% of females said that nutritional value was important when buying biscuits with 15% saying it was not important

75% of females believe price to be important when buying biscuits with only 11% deeming it not important

45% of females believed quantity was important when buying biscuits leaving 15% to believe it not to be important



  • Biscuit buyers are not brand loyal and love to purchase biscuits as treats for family and friends
  • Most biscuit consumption is done as an ‘after dinner snack’ and taste tends to be the most important consideration when purchasing
  • People love cookies the most and like the idea of in-store tastings to try out new biscuits
  • Promotions are the way to go with ‘price-offs’ being the most attractive promotion in terms of swaying a purchase decision



The retail market in biscuits in Ireland is worth approximately €170m per year, with brand loyalty featuring heavily in the category. Across Ireland, consumers average 2.5 snacks per day. Research suggests that despite an increase in the popularity of healthy snacks, biscuits are still a popular category, especially among the 40+ category*. Classic and vintage varieties such as bourbon creams and custard creams are as popular as ever among younger consumers also. Research reveals that six in ten respondents aged 16-24 disagreed that older biscuit varieties are “boring”. The savoury biscuit category has also enjoyed growth in recent years, as consumers seek healthier alternatives. That said, consumers are likely to continue reaching for chocolate and sugar-based biscuits for their home and work snacks times.

*(Source: Bord Bia snacking report, March 2014)



Q&A with Niamh Barden, customer marketing & insights manager & Niamh Twyford, consumer marketing manager, United Biscuits

Q What are the key trends you see taking shape in the biscuit category?  

McVities' iconic biscuit brands remain customer favouritesNB: The last number of years have seen the health and wellness trend manifest itself as a key driver of new occasions in the biscuit category. Breakfast biscuits, long a staple on the continent, arrived on the Irish biscuit scene about three years ago and created a whole new snacking occasion, delivering value growth and new shoppers into a mature category. The other area that has benefited from this trend is savoury biscuits. With gluten free/wheat free diets becoming more and more on trend, there is an ever-increasing demand for alternatives to bread and the likes of crisp breads/flatbreads and even rice cakes have proved very popular alternatives.

Q How do you differentiate your products from your competitors’?

NT: McVitie’s has been loved by Irish families for generations. It’s a brand with a long history of delivering the products that consumers want. With our continuous focus on product quality, winning innovation, investment in brand support and responding to changing market needs, we have been able to sustain that position over the years.

Given our heritage as best bakers in our class, it’s not surprising that our Carr’s brand consistently delivers on taste. Being the core of the brand, we ensure that our products meet the highest standards of taste, while also providing the perfect solution no matter the time of day or occasion. While we once were seen as the ‘special occasion’ solution, our recent investment in product innovation and brand support is delivering dividends and bringing the brand into the mainstream as a very strong contender to the major players.

Q Have you any plans for any new products / brand extensions in the pipeline?

NT: Innovation is one of our key strengths across both our sweet and savoury biscuits. While I’m not at liberty to give specifics about our brand plans, I can confirm that we have some very exciting news to share starting in early 2016. Watch this space!

Q What advice would you give retailers/buyers hoping to further drive sales?

NB: It’s all about understanding what your shoppers want – this starts with getting to grips with the key trends in the Irish grocery market and understanding how they affect your categories. For instance the recession has left most of us with a very different perception of what value-for-money means than it may have three years ago. There is no denying that price is a key driver in the market, but we must feel we are still getting quality and value for our euro – which means the cheapest price is not always the right price. Attractive promotions can be a lot more enticing than a low base price and this coupled with standout point of sale to interrupt the shopper throughout the store, can lead to incremental sales and impulse purchases.

Of course, this won’t happen if the right range is not on the shelf and given the right space. This can be a particular concern in the biscuit category where there can be anything up to 800 products live in the market at any one time. Understanding when and why the shopper buys biscuits and how this comes to life at the fixture, can help retailers and buyers resist the temptation to over-list and focus on the areas of growth and products that will deliver this.




Mix'ems Fruit Jellies combine Maryland's original cookies with fruity jelly pieces Burton’s Biscuit Company added a dash of fun and excitement to its market-leading €74.5m* Maryland Cookies brand earlier this year with the introduction of a new sub-brand, Maryland Mix’ems.

Maryland Mix’ems feature a playful combination of textures and sweet flavours mixed into every cookie; targeted at families with teens looking for a sweet treat to enjoy at home in the evening and at weekends.

Mix'ems Fruit Jellies combine Maryland's original cookies with fruity jelly piecesMaryland Mix’ems are available in two 144g variants, Toffee Popcorn, Caramel & Candy Shells, and Fruit Jellies & Candy Shells, with nine x 16g cookies in each pack and an RRP of €2.49. Vibrant packaging featuring colourful stripes and a cookie bursting with a mix of flavours creates standout on-shelf, attracting current Maryland shoppers whilst helping to drive new shoppers to the fixture.

“Maryland Mix’ems offer a fun-filled combination of flavours and textures in every bite,” says David Costello, Burton’s Biscuit Company head of customer category management. “They also broaden the appeal of a brand that is already clearly established as one of Ireland’s best-loved cookie brands.

“The latest NPD from Maryland builds on the spectacular success of multi award-winning Maryland Gooeys,” says Costella, “and, more recently, Maryland Soft Baked which introduced American-style soft cookies to the biscuit aisle. It’s another example of Burton’s NPD leading the way with category-boosting products that attract shoppers to the fixture and drive incremental sales.”

For enquiries, call Flanagan’s Foods on +353 1 450 6100.

*(Sources: Nielsen Total Coverage UK, Kantar Value Channel (Discounters & Bargain stores) and Kantar Ireland 52 we 08/11/14)



Walkers Shortbread uses the same recipe as a centurt agoWalkers Shortbread Ltd was established more than one hundred years ago, when the Walker family started baking shortbread in the Speyside village of Aberlour, surrounded by the picturesque landscape of the Scottish highlands, and it is where they remain to this day, manufacturing Walkers products to be sold all over the world. It is only by baking in small batches that Walkers can ensure the classic taste for which Walkers is famed.

As it always has been, Walkers shortbread is made using only four ingredients: flour, pure creamery butter, sugar and salt. All Walkers shortbread, biscuits and oatcakes are free from artificial colours, flavourings and additives. They are certified Kosher and are suitable for vegetarians and free from artificial colours, flavourings and preservatives. Walkers Shortbread bakes the most extensive selection of pure butter shortbreads available, with many varieties and sizes to choose from. From familiar fingers, rounds and petticoat tails to something more unusual, there is a Walkers Shortbread for every taste. Further to this, the company prides itself on traditional Scottish products including the baked oatcakes and fruitcakes, both of which are firm family favourites.

Walkers Shortbread recently announced the launch of its brand new Certified Gluten Free range, ensuring everyone can enjoy the simplicity and luxurious taste that sets it apart from anything else. Watch out for Walkers Shortbread new biscuit range coming soon. For more information visit: www.walkersshortbread.com



The new Gluten Free offering ensures everyone can enjoy the classic tasteWalkers Shortbread, purveyor of The World’s Finest Shortbread, adds to its extensive collection with a brand new Certified Gluten Free range ensuring everyone can enjoy the simplicity and luxurious taste that sets it apart from anything else. The new Gluten Free range includes three equally tasty options – Pure Butter Shortbread, Chocolate Chip Shortbread and Ginger and Lemon Shortbread.

  • Gluten Free Pure Butter Shortbread: This classic pure butter shortbread offers a crumbly “melt-in-your-mouth” texture.
  • Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Shortbread: A generous helping of chocolate chips provides a rich and luxurious complement to this classic shortbread.
  • Gluten Free Ginger & Lemon Shortbread: This crumbly shortbread combines the best of traditional Scottish baking with the exotic tang of Stem Ginger and Lemon.

Walkers Gluten Free range is baked with only the finest quality ingredients combined with the company’s world class craftsmanship. This ensures that no compromise is made enabling all gluten intolerant consumers the chance to enjoy the same great-tasting pure butter shortbread as expected in every pack of Walkers Shortbread.

Established over a hundred years ago in Aberlour, Scotland, Walkers Shortbread remains an independent family concern to this day and faithfully maintains the tradition of producing The World’s Finest Shortbread from original recipes using only the finest ingredients – a policy that has earned Walkers a global reputation for quality and excellence.

The Walkers Shortbread Gluten Free Shortbread is available to buy in-store now. For more information visit its website www.walkersshortbread.com.



Peanut Butter Oreo combines the fun of Oreos with a brand new flavourThis August, iconic cookie brand Oreo is launching Wonderfilled, a colourful new campaign designed to reawaken the inner child in everyone. Timed to coincide with the introduction of two new Oreo flavours; Golden Oreo and Peanut Butter Oreo, the campaign features an infectiously catchy advert which has been airing since early August. Golden Oreo contains the same classic crème filling but swaps the traditional Oreo chocolate cookie for a crunchy vanilla-flavoured cookie instead. Meanwhile, for the Peanut Butter flavour, the classic crème Oreo filing has been swapped for a smooth peanut butter crème, to ensure there’s still a cookie to suit everyone’s taste. Golden Oreo has been permanently introduced into the Irish market, while Peanut Butter is a limited edition SKU and will only be available for 12 months.



Michelle RynneQ What are the key trends you see taking shape in the biscuit category?  

Over the last year, at least within our brand, we have seen a resurgence of the old favourites such as Club Milk and Mikado with consumers returning to both brands and buying more frequently. We have seen the growing importance of innovation in a dynamic category, evident particularly within the savoury segment which continues its growth as new flavours enter the market and consumers continue their search for credible bread substitutes. Sales of our Jacob’s Cream Crackers are up +6% year-on-year, while new flavours are driving growth of over 20% for Tuc. We have also seen the healthy segment start to show a decline of -18% with breakfast biscuits, in particular, losing appeal as the options in the market widen. Retailer focus on range rationalisation has led to the growing importance of big brands to deliver guaranteed sales.

Q How do you differentiate your product(s) from your competitors’?

Well we are lucky to work on mainly Irish brands like Jacob’s and Bolands within our head office here in Dublin so there’s a simple focus for us. We get to create products and campaigns which connect with our national audience. Our competitors base their products and campaigns across global or European markets so it can be harder to keep shoppers happy. We just have to listen to what our consumers are telling us and bring it to market.

Q Have you any plans for new products/brand extensions in the pipeline?

As always we have plenty of new products in the pipeline. This summer we are launching a great new range of tasty crackers under the Mediterraneo brand. The Tapas Crackers come in three great flavours, Tomato & Basil, Feta & Oregano and Leek & Onion and are designed to be enjoyed with small dishes and dips. We will also be launching a great new fun product for kids within the J-Os stable this November. January and into the first quarter of next year will also be a busy time for us in biscuits but you will have to watch this space.

Q What advice would you give retailers/ buyers in order to further drive sales?

I’m not sure they need advice from us, they are definitely the experts in this field but, if I had to pass anything on that I have learnt from our brands in the last year, it’s that there are some family traditions that don’t change and with the Jacob’s brand showing year-on-year growth of 4% and sales in the assortments segment up +16% at Christmas 2014, we expect our Jacob’s Afternoon Tea, Elite and USA tins, our Mikados and Kimberleys whether chocolate covered or not and our figgy Fig Rolls and chunky chocolate Club Milks to remain number one as long as we keep ensuring shoppers keep them top of mind. We’ll be doing our part with a national campaign later this year.




Tapas Crackers combine convenience with authentic flavourJacob’s biscuits have been loved by Irish families since 1851 and iconic brands such as Elite, Mikado, Fig Rolls, Cream Crackers and Club Milk are still household favourites.

As the number one biscuit brand, Jacob’s prides itself on leading category innovation and this year has been no different with the successful launch of Jacob’s Mega Creams and the relaunch of Jacob’s Jaffa Cakes in new and unique re-sealable packaging for added freshness and convenience.


Tapas Crackers combine convenience with authentic flavourMore exciting Jacob’s innovation will be reaching stores nationwide in the autumn with the launch of a new TUC Paprika flavoured cracker and a brand new range of tasty Jacob’s Mediterraneo Crackers. Designed for small dishes and dips, Tapas Crackers come in three great flavours: Tomato & Basil, Feta & Oregano and Leek & Onion. As for sweet biscuits, Jacob’s will be extending the J-Os range with a great new product due in October. Jacob’s will also be bringing to the market a new everyday biscuit assortment, USA Teatime, available in a convenient flow-wrap format.

Tapas Crackers combine convenience with authentic flavourBuilding on the success of the Jacob’s “Feel Good” TV advert featuring Jacob’s Cream Crackers and Rice Cakes earlier this year, Jacob’s will continue to invest strongly in its brand communication so look out for the next Jacob’s through the line campaign in the coming months… something biscuit lovers will be sure to enjoy.

www.facebook.com/jacobslovebiscuits  / twitter.com/Jacobs_IRL






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