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April 21, 2021 // //  //       //  Opinion

How the Pandemic Paved the Way for Snacks to Take Center Stage

This blog was also published on The Drum.

snˈak] - a small amount of food eaten between meals. 

My love for snacking started at an early age – chips, fruit, veggies, pretzels, popcorn – you name it, I’ve perfected the art of snacking on it. Who doesn’t love to sit down with their favorite snack to enhance the experience of watching TV, reading a book, working, or just relaxing

Snacking has been on my mind more over the past year, permeating my thoughts since I’ve worked from home. My kitchen  stocked full of my favorite foods  calls out to me to come grab a bag of chips to help me think better or reminds me I only have 10 minutes before the next call… just enough time for a little nosh. It got me thinking I can’t be alone, which led me to partner with my food industry practice colleagues to unveil key insights from our latest report, “The State of Snacking,” to answer a critical question as we address the evolution of mealtime: Has our pandemic-shifted focus on food paved the way for snacks to take center stage? 

Traditional sit-down meals three times a day can be a challenge with our many competing priorities, which has led the practice of snacking to enjoy a rise nothing short of meteoric. While it’s clear snacks have become a focal point of our eating habits and is expected to continue as 2021 unfolds, we wanted to dig a layer deeper to understand how brands big and small could take advantage of this behavior. 

We found that while taste is table stakes, there are four key insights – the four Ps – that food marketers need to consider:  

  • Price: More than 60% of consumers indicate price is a priority when it comes to snacks. It’s critical to execute marketing programs that emphasize a curated selection of limited availability deals or promotions through strategic channel placement and emotion-based messaging to catch consumer attention. 
  • Private Label: Complementary to price, retailers’ private label brands continue to rise in popularity among consumers, as evidenced by the popularity of Trader Joe’s, Kroger, Costco and other store brands with a cult following. Snack brands – even those not categorized as “private label”  can tap into this trend with a strategic marketing program that shines a light on on-trend tastes, flavors and retailer availability at key times of year. 
  • Plant-Based: From chips and pretzels made from peas and cauliflower to meatless jerky and oat milk everything, the rapidly growing plant-based snack segment attracts small startups and big food companies alike. Consumers are hungry for healthier, plant-forward snacking choices, and they’re more willing to experiment with new brands, flavor profiles and taste sensations. 
  • Purpose: Purpose is more important than ever, providing opportunities for CPG snack brands to showcase their missions through their products. There is a myriad of ways brands can remain actively involved to help solve problems that matter to consumers and impact the world in a positive way – leveraging their impact for marketing purposes. 

While it’s clear from our research snacking's star burns brightly today, how soon before it fades?  

Download the report and make sure to grab a snack to enjoy while reading. I know I will! 

Cheryl Weissman brings 15 years of experience to Allison+Partners’ Consumer Brands practice and leads the agency’s food and beverage specialty. She is responsible for the strategic management of account teams within the category across the agency, supervising client activities, providing counsel and helping some of the world's leading food and beverage brands navigate the ever-changing world of public relations. If you’re interested in learning more about Allison+Partners' work with food and beverage brands, get in touch at [email protected] 

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