Consumer Comfort In Salty Snacks

Salty Snacks, Pretzels

According to new research, salty snack purchasing has significantly changed for consumers reporting that they are struggling or in trouble with their financial circumstances, with the category continuing to experience growth.

Mintel’s latest study has shown that 37 percent of USA consumers would be motivated to purchase more salty snacks if there were more budget-friendly options, and 43 percent consider the price of salty snacks to be the essential attribute.

Regarding other salty snack attributes, flavour (40 percent) and brand familiarity (40 percent) remain essential to consumers.

Mintel research has shown that the salty snack market grew as consumers increasingly reached for various options.

Over a quarter of consumers (27 percent) report increased consumption of salty snacks compared to last year, led by Millennials (47 percent), parents (46 percent), and those who are employed and work from home at least some of the time (42 percent). Consumers say they have increased consumption in the last year across all salty snack segments, with top growth seen across the popular cheese-flavoured snacks up six percent, microwavable popcorn up seven percent, and corn snacks up 8 percent.

Kelsey Olsen, Consumer Insights Analyst for Food and Drink at Mintel, said that budget constraints are challenging consumers across the board, and even though salty snacks are relatively affordable, they are not necessities.

She continued that as consumers have increased their snacking overall, brands have been challenged to find a mix of the familiarity and newness consumers seek. Brands can meet these consumers with value options that offer them familiarity 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.”

Furthermore, Mintel research also showed that salty snacks meet more specific emotional needs for consumers, as over two-thirds choose snacks for relaxing and to satisfy a craving (67 percent respectively), outpacing hunger as a motivator (58 percent). For younger generations, the emotional appeal is even more defined, with Olsen adding that it’s rising.

Two in five Millennials (39 percent) choose snacks to relieve boredom. A third of Millennials (34 percent) choose snacks to relieve stress compared to 24 percent of Millennials five years ago.

“As consumers continue to navigate stressful and evolving times, salty snacks can 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.”

Olsen stated that salty snacks must be versatile in their ability to meet different occasions, but at the base, they must bring consumers joy.

“Brands must continue to help consumers make positive associations with snacks to encourage permissibility on different occasions further and facilitate an experience that meets more emotional needs like a snack positioned for self-care,” concluded Olsen.