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Packaged snacks are yet to reach their full potential

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India is a nation of snackers. In fact, according to research, almost 9 out of 10 Indians have snacked between meals in the last six months to March 2020. Furthermore, snacking is a daily habit for almost half of the Indian snackers.

Packaged snacks are yet to reach their full potential

With snacking habits so well-entrenched among consumers, there’s little room to recruit new snackers. Having said that, specifically targeting needs of less-frequent snackers presents an opportunity for brands to have an increased engagement.

Day-part-specific offerings can fuel growth 

There are two sets of opportunities that a snack brand should look at. One is how to increase the frequency of consumption among regular/daily snackers so that they are encouraged to snack multiple times a day and two, driving purposeful consumption in non-regular consumers to make snacking as a daily habit.

What is fuelling the snacking culture in India today is the time-pressed and busy lifestyle and irregular meal times. Mintel research reveals that consumers are looking for different snack attributes for different times of the day, depending on their need states at that point in the day.

For example, energising is the most sought-after snack attribute for the morning occasion. However, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database, only 7% of launches from Feb 2019 to Jan 2020 in the snacks category carried ‘energy’ claims.

As consumers snack multiple times in a day, there is potential for snack foods to meet consumers’ health/nutrition goals by offering energy-boosting snacks in the morning, high satiety snacks in the afternoon and fun and indulgence for later part of the day.

BFY snacks can drive purposeful consumption

In India, snacks can play a bigger role in daily food intake. An important opportunity in the snacking space is better-for-you (BFY) snacks. BFY snacks can help non-regular snackers like older consumers meet their health goals on a daily basis. It is important for brands to call out functional benefits such as digestion, stress relief and slimming in their marketing campaigns as well on the pack, especially for senior consumers.

BFY kids’ snacking is a white space that, if tapped effectively, can also push parents to snack more often and can also pave the way to drive consumption frequency among parents. There is potential for brands to offer nutritious, tasty and fun snacks to children; being transparent about what these snack foods contain and use natural ingredients will help establish trust among parents.

Exploring the Untapped Potential of Snack Bar Format

While out-of-home snacking is big, home has always been the most common place to eat snacks. Mintel research conducted before the COVID-19 outbreak reveals that nine in 10 snackers snack at home. During the lockdown, at-home snack consumption is likely to have increased. This will continue to remain high in the short- and mediumterm even as lockdown restrictions are relaxed, as a certain section of consumers will continue to be cautious and stay at home.

In the post-COVID era, consumers will seek preventive health and convenience. As on-the-go snacking grows, snack bar formats will be more relevant than ever. Snack bars are nutritious, portion-controlled, convenient and hassle-free options. As a format, they fit the bill for snacking on the go or while out. However, currently, the penetration of the snack bar format in India has been low, as only one in five Indian consumers have eaten cereal/energy bars in the last six months to March 2020.

There are two reasons why snack bars haven’t yet caught on in India. One, the bar format is Western and mostly associated with chocolates and hence the consumer expectations from a snack food in a bar format are misaligned. Two, the formulations that work globally do not necessarily suit the Indian taste buds.

While the big brands have shied away from snack bars as a
format, with the exception of legacy brands like Snickers and, a slew of innovations have been introduced in the market by start-up brands. These start-up brands are bringing in innovations that match global trends and at the same time they work with local tastes and flavour preferences.

Moving forward, as consumers resume out-of-home and on-the-go snacking, snack bar format will be more relevant than ever. Thanks to the convenience that it offers, snack bar formats have potential to grow in the Indian market provided they offer taste to the liking of Indian consumers and couple it with better-for-you benefits in the post-COVID world.