As the salty snack market continues to grow, it also has begun to feel the effects of tightened budget – this is according to recent research conducted by Mintel, which shows that those who report their financial situations as struggling/in trouble are most likely (34%) to have decreased year-over-year salty snack consumption.
Among those who haven’t increased consumption, 37% would be motivated to purchase more salty snacks if there were more budget-friendly options. In line with increasing inflation, 43% of consumers today consider the price of salty snacks to be the most important, compared with 37% in 2022. When it comes to other attributes, flavour (40%) and brand familiarity (40%) remain important to consumers.
Despite budgets becoming smaller, research by Mintel shows that the salty snack market continues to grow as consumers reach for a range of options. Over a quarter of consumers (27%) report increased consumption of salty snacks compared with last year, led by millennials (47%), parents (46%) and those who are employed and work from home some of the time (42%).
According to Mintel, consumers have increased consumption across all salty snack segments with top growth seen across cheese-flavoured snacks (+6%), microwaveable popcorn (+7%) and corn snacks (+8%) as well as less mainstream snacks including crisps made from vegetables, beans or ancient grains (+7%).
“Budget constraints are challenging consumers across the board, and even though salty snacks are relatively affordable, they are not necessities. As consumers increase their snacking overall, brands will be challenged to find a mix of the familiarity and newness that consumers are seeking,” explained Kelsey Olsen, Consumer Insights Analyst Food and Drink at Mintel. “Brands can meet these consumers with value options that offer them familiarity, like a box of Cheez-Its or a bag of Fritos, when the trial of new snacks may feel risky.
“Retailers also have a prime opportunity to provide value in their private-label salty snack offerings while showcasing that private brands can deliver on flavour and innovation. Winning brands will need a crave-worthy flavour experience at the forefront, with a foundation of comfort.”
Research done by the organisation also reveals that salty snacks are meeting more specific emotional needs for consumers, as over two-thirds choose snacks for relaxing and to satisfy a craving (67%), overtaking hunger as a motivator (58%). For younger generations, this emotional appeal becomes more apparent – two in five millennials (39%) choose snacks to relieve boredom.
“As consumers continue to navigate stressful and evolving times, salty snacks can be there to help them slow down and even relieve stress. Salty snacks are winning in their ability to satisfy cravings and meet emotional needs, expanding their role beyond a quick hunger-satisfying solution,” added Olsen.
“Salty snacks must be versatile in their ability to meet different occasions, but at base, they must simply bring consumers joy. Brands must continue to help consumers make positive associations with snacks to further encourage permissibility on different occasions as well as facilitate an experience that meets more emotional needs like a snack positioned for self-care,” she concluded.
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