With taste so important, it is vital to track consumers’ flavor needs. There is no simple answer for formulators, but research suggests a clear need for balancing the innovative with the familiar. “A total of 35-40% of consumers expressed a preference for strong, novel and varied flavors,” reports Lu Ann Williams, Global Insights Director at Innova Market Insights. “But at the same time, 20-25% said that they preferred mild, light and traditional tastes.” Delivering variety is therefore vital in snack innovation.
When it comes to whether and when people purchase and consume snacks, there can be strong regional differences. National purchase rates vary considerably, even in neighboring markets. For example, typical purchasing is twice as likely in Sweden as in Denmark. What is more certain, however, is that snack-buying is generally highest in households with children and among consumers of parenting age. Children are clearly important snack consumers, but this also suggests that sharing and social snacking remain popular. This again reflects the role of snacks in delivering a boost to happiness.
The afternoon, between-meals period remains the number one occasion for consumption of salty snacks, followed by evening snacking. Europeans are most likely to eat snacks in the evenings, while Latin Americans over-index on morning usage. Similarly, by age, older consumers seem to greatly favor evening occasions, while the young are more open to snacking in the mornings.
Looking ahead, the global pandemic has made treats and indulgence more important than ever and the snacks category can capitalize on this. As a result, continued diversification and premiumization of products and flavors is anticipated. Meanwhile, a staggering growth is observed in on-pack claims that relate to specific feelings and life qualities. The so-called ‘mood foods’ are targeting both general mental well-being and specific benefits by using claims related to attributes like focus and concentration, replenishment and recharging, and better sleep.