Ferrero Rocher gets squirrely again with bunny-less Easter

Chocolate maker expands on Easter squirrel point of sale with new smaller size.

Ferrero Rocher’s Squirrel was named BrandSpark International’s 2019 Best New Product Award Winner for the Seasonal Chocolate category. Now, the squirrel-shaped chocolate is back for another year, building on the initial success and going head-to-head with the abundance of bunnies at Easter with a new, smaller 45 gram size to go along with 90 gram squirrel.

“There are a lot of bunnies,” concedes Eric Oziel, Ferrero’s shopper marketing manager. If you go into some stores, he likens it to “a wall”’ of them. Ferrero Rocher had its own line of hollow, roasted hazelnut chocolate Easter bunnies in 60 and 100 gram sizes, but there was shelf confusion with its high-end confectionery competition, Lindt and Godiva. The brand’s offering “was getting lost in the bunny clutter” he says, hence the development of the squirrel.

Ferrero launched “Hazel the Squirrel” for Easter last year (named to emphasize its “hazelnut” chocolate ingredients). The hazel-centric branding is part of Ferrero’s ongoing efforts to draw attention to the brand’s use of a whole hazelnut during the production process, as well as to highlight its chocolate for special, seasonal occasions. Ferroro Rocher is emphasizing its gold foil too.

When Hazel the Squirrel first came out, Oziel says it was met with a lot of skepticism, even from retailers internally. However, backed by a campaign in TV, social and digital, he says Hazel became a top Easter SKU for the brand. Oziel tells strategy that it has since become a national Top 20 SKU and says the brand is making the product “big in store, with displays and pop banners to create excitement around the Easter season.” This includes a large golden brown squirrel hugging a hazelnut in front of a three-panel gold display, with messaging highlighting the festive aspect of the season.

Advantage Marketing Partners handled banners for the 2018 launch, and Vaughan Ontario’s Hughes Decorr developed the 2019 in-store display.

The Ferrero Rocher squirrel is currently only available during Easter and can be purchased at all major mass, drug and grocery stores. The brand is also renewing its 2018 loyalty points program with Shoppers Drug Mart where users can earn 1,000 Optimum points with any purchase of a 90-gram chocolate squirrel.

According to recent Nielsen data, chocolate has its highest percentage of annual sales around Christmas, followed by Easter.