Brought to you by Mrs. Freshley’s.
OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. — Keeping pace with evolving snack trends could be a full-time job. Luckily for convenience retailers, it is someone else’s job. CSP had a chance to catch up with one of the industry’s most notable experts to learn the latest on snacking in America. The bottom line? Demand for indulgent snacks continues to grow, and convenience stores are in an ideal position to profit.
Despite the hoopla around healthy snacks, the numbers show that consumers still want to indulge. In 2014, dollar sales for indulgent snacks showed a 3.1% increase over the prior year vs. a 2.5% rise for healthier items, according to data company IRI Worldwide.
As the U.S. demographic landscape changes, snacking preferences and purchasing behaviors fluctuate, according to Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive vice president and practice leader, snacks, IRI. “Shoppers are making different buying decisions, especially when it comes to snacks,” she said. “For many consumers, in particular millennials and boomers, snacking is now a regular part of their day.”
She refers to IRI’s 2015 consumer snacking survey, which brings good news for snack manufacturers and c-stores: Since 2011, fewer shoppers (-16%) indicate they are cutting back on their snack spending, while increasing numbers (+11%) are snacking more.
Research firm Mintel’s findings are similar. According to Snacking Motivations and Attitudes US 2015, 94% of Americans snack at least once a day, 50% of adults snack two to three times per day, and 70% agree that any type of food or beverage can be a snack these days.
In addition to capitalizing on the fact that more people are snacking—and more often—retailers need to be aware of who is snacking when, and what drives their behavior.
Healthy vs. Indulgent
With the younger generation more concerned about health and nutrition than ever, one would think that would be the death knell of indulgent snacks. Not quite, says Lyons Wyatt.
“Consumers are looking for a balance between healthier and indulgent options,” she says. For example, snack bars realized growth in 2014 for several reasons, including that they’re a portable option that serves as both a snack between meals and a nutritious mini-meal.
“At the same time, super premium and niche brands are leading the growth in several bakery and snack categories, like bars, cookies, pastry/doughnuts and bakery snacks,” said Lyons Watt. “These niche products are driving excitement in the store and down the center store aisles, impacting sales of established brands.”
Mrs. Freshley’s, for example, recently launched a new premium product to cater to consumers looking for a moment of indulgence. Called Icers, the creme-filled cakes feature moist, rich cake and a velvety layer of icing.
But although consumers may claim they seek out better-for-you options, according to Mintel, that’s not exactly the case. While 33% of consumers say they are snacking on healthier foods this year compared to last year, they most often snack to satisfy a craving (62%). Additionally, 63% of consumers value the taste of salty snacks more than the nutrition. This highlights the important role taste and flavor play in snacking behavior.
This all bodes well for c-stores. In fact, Mintel’s research shows that convenience is one of the most important factors when selecting a snack; 77% of snackers prefer ready-to-eat snacks over those they have to prepare.
“Convenience stores are in a great position to provide consumers with the balanced options they are looking for across the day,” Lyons Wyatt said. “Understanding their shoppers and aligning their assortment by daypart will deliver against these consumer needs and demand moments, ultimately winning with consumers.”