Consumer lifestyles have drastically changed over the last year. The future of snacking is reshaping as we speak. To endure difficult times, it is crucial to look for opportunities and trends.
We identified two key opportunities to consider for long term success in the experiential side of the snack sector.
- New selling channels
- Focus on digital
Innovation in the snacking category is booming. In this snacking innovation race, let’s have a look at some key trends. We combined industry insights by Mintel and Euromonitor with our own experience and we see 3 key trends shaping the snacking space:
- Taste comes first
- Colour & texture add to an exciting eating experience
- Balance between health & indulgent
The opportunities of COVID-19 on snacking
Like everything else, the COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted the snacking industry. However, although the way in which consumers buy snacks has changed, the desire and demand for snacking did not decrease.
While many people tend to focus on the negative, we must also see the possibilities for the snacking industry. Yes, there has been a drop in sales from on-the-go channels such as vending machines. Yes, there has been a decline in impulse purchases. But this pushes the industry to look for new ways to meet consumer needs. Many snacking brands have been extending their selling channels, for example by joining a food delivery service like Deliveroo or Pepsi Co Direct-to-Consumer channel. There has also been an increasing number of providers who have introduced direct-to-consumer delivery models to bring the snacking experience to the homes of their consumers. Hereby effectively bypassing third-party retailers, wholesalers, or any other middlemen and improving profit margin.
Another trend accelerated by the pandemic, is the focus on the digital world. Due to the reduced brand exposure in retailers, the industry had to look for new ways to maintain and develop engagement with consumers. More and more snack companies concentrate on online marketing strategies centred around social media in particular. Increasing the online presence of consumers through their own posts, is set to be one of the key drivers of the current and future snacking experience.
(Euromonitor, February 2021)
Taste comes first
Pomegranate and blueberry make a tasty superfruit blend
When it comes to fruit snacks, we see clear 3 important trends leading the way:
- Classics keep going strong
Raspberry, strawberry, apple and blackcurrant stay amongst the most preferred fruit tastes.
- The perfect blend
The success of flavour combinations largely depends on the consumer group you are trying to reach. For adult snacks, mango-passion is a popular combination (although sales volumes are limited). Superfruit blends like pomegranate & blueberry are on the rise. For kid’s snacks, strawberry-banana stays popular.
- Accessible yet on-trend
Flavours that combine a familiar flavour with a new element are a smart idea. Herbal and flower notes score well. Combinations that have proven to be successful in our lab include strawberry & basil, cherry & chili and apricot & rosemary. More adventuruous flavour blends include pineapple with curry and strawberry with pink pepper.
Colour & texture for an exciting eating experience
Cherry pistachio & puffed rice (Photocredit: @barbarajustblog)
In the “eat with your eyes era”, colour in nutrition has become an important part of the eating experience. Colourful ingredients such as vegetables or fruit contribute to the Instagrammability of food. Snacks that are bright, with contrasting colours trigger the attention of foodies.
Next to colour, texture is an innovation area not to ignore. Snack products with layers, combining multiple textures, are gaining more traction. Combinations of crunchy, creamy, crispy, pulpy, and contrasting textures contribute to an exciting eating experience.
If you plan to experiment with texture, 2 considerations are key:
- Accessible yet exciting
Finding the right balance between accessibility and excitement is the key to success. Tweaking a proven successful snack flavour like raspberry with a crunchy ingredient like seeds or popcorn, adds just that little bit of excitement.
- It’s a local thing
What appeals to consumers in one geographical area might turn off those in another area. As formulators, it is important to understand the regional differences in texture preferences, and to avoid a one-size-fits-all mindset.
Balance between health & indulgent
Balancing health & indulgence: sugar reduced cookies with fruit pieces for great taste
The trend of healthy food has been around for quite some time. But as a result of COVID-19, health concerns are rising. A growing number of consumers worldwide pay more attention to their eating habits to maintain good health. At the same time, people are also tended to snack more at home during uncertain times. This means that consumers are constantly trying to juggle between healthy food and indulgent snacks. The opportunities are on both sides of the spectrum. Healthy snacks look for new and tasty ways to bring fortification in a pleasant format. Indulgent snack brands can look for new ways to make their snack “permissible”, like size reduction, sugar reduction or caloric reduction.
So what's next?
Look for opportunities in the hard times. Expand your business by looking for new selling channels and concentrating on digital. COVID is a dark tunnel, but remember that you don’t have to be out of the tunnel to see the light.
In the snacking innovation race, focus first on taste: after all, you want to create a delightful eating moment. Second, rate your new product on colour and texture. And third, find the right balance between health and indulgent because the desire for ‘lighter’ and healthier snacks has been enlarged as a result of COVID-19.