Salty snacks

Snacking company pladis has revealed its insights into ‘the new breed of snackers’ in the UK.

“The options for consumers have never been greater. Whether it’s as a wholesome snack, an indulgent treat or a mood-enhancer, it’s interesting to see what will steer people to one particular snack over another. We’ve put consumer insights at the heart of every new product in our pipeline to ensure there is something for everyone, for every occasion,” explained Colette Noé, senior director for consumer and market insights at pladis.

The company has seen increasing demand for products that are easy to buy, store, transport and that can be consumed ‘on the go’ or which are easily sharable.

Consumers are becoming more ‘mindful’ about what they eat, pladis found. They often want portion control but they won’t compromise on things like taste, quality or familiarity.

In some cases, consumers are looking for a more ‘sensory’ experience – as seen by the explosion in salted caramel flavoured snacks in 2017 or products with added protein.

Often consumers choose a well-known brand, but a new format, a variation of an old favourite.

Baby boomers are crucial to the success of a particular snacking category, pladis believes, and the company pays close attention to how it markets effectively to this demographic.

Younger consumers are snacking more than any previous generation, triggered largely by the erosion of traditional food rituals such as set meal times; pladis has seen the emergence of the ‘fourth meal’.

“The boundary between meals and snacks is blurring. Most people understand a meal to be influenced by cultural traditions around timing, setting and specific food groups. Snacks, on the other hand, are highly personalised and variable mini meals,” added Noé.

With their high levels of social media usage, millennials continue to wield a lot of influence over the UK snacking industry, pladis says. “We call them the ‘taste makers’ among their peer group, they make much quicker purchases and buy fewer groceries online than you might think,” explained Noé. “We know that millennials are a more visual generation than their parents were; they need to be tempted by a particular type of packaging or instantly register how a product fits into their busy lifestyle,” said Noé.

Whilst millennials’ incomes may have decreased compared to previous generations, they often choose an indulgent treat or wholesome snack as a quick pick me up in favour of a full meal.

According to a Snack Hack report by Mintel, young consumers are more likely than any other generation to snack, and one in four are now “Super Snackers” who snack four or more times in a single day.

Data from Euromonitor International 2017 shows that the fastest growing consumer segment is the over 50s, which has grown by a third in the last three years.

“For the ‘baby boomer’ generation, biscuit-buying is part of their routine and they are more determined to cut through the choice in the supermarket aisle to get to the value product, so need to be marketed to in different ways,” added Noé.