Mondelez released the new “Oreo Thins” in the US this week, aimed at consumers with the allure of low-calorie indulgence. However, the term “thins,” prominently displayed front and center of the pack, could be misleading for consumers as the new cookie offers only slightly fewer calories than the original, fully stuffed version. Will the new product be enough to incite evolution in the cookie category? Here, Mintel’s expert Food and Drink Analysts weigh in as Oreo goes all in on “skinny.”

Beth Bloom, Food and Drink Analyst

BETH_BLOOMCookies are present in 68% of US households. Even at a time when health–consciousness is top of mind, Mintel’s Cookies and Crackers US 2014 report finds total US retail sales of cookies grew 17% from 2008-13. We’ve found that product innovation, including the expansion of options that allow for lower-guilt snacking, contribute to this performance.

Adding to increased sales in the US, more than half of cookie eaters do so as a dessert, snack, or anytime indulgence. Mintel’s Snacking Motivations and Attitudes US 2015 report finds that snacking has become nearly universal; 94% of US adults snack at least once daily, and half snack two to three times per day. However, health does play a strong role in the types of snacks consumed (and avoided). More than a third of snackers limit their intake of sweet snacks, and 33% of consumers say they are snacking on healthier foods this year compared to last year. Mintel research shows that a full two thirds of cookie buyers consider health-related attributes in their purchase decision.

Two thirds of US cookie buyers consider health-related attributes in their purchase decision.

While appealing to health-consciousness will be important to staying relevant in the snack market, consumers continue to look for indulgence. A third of cookie buyers usually buy indulgent varieties, pointing to a willingness to go “all in” to the category.

Oreo is a cookie standout, with flavor innovation and marketing gusto contributing to 13% MULO sales growth in the 52 weeks ending Dec. 1, 2013. A strength of the Oreo Thins launch is variety through familiarity. Nearly a quarter of cookie buyers say they are more likely to buy bite-size versions for snacking. This increases to 29% among respondents who eat cookies daily. Diversifying product ranges by introducing smaller versions of popular brands can increase permissibility, allowing consumers to enjoy multiple smaller units, while delivering familiar indulgence.

JODIE-MOTTO Jodie Minotto, Global Food Trends Analyst

Oreo Thins are an evolution of the brand that had to happen. Mondelez have played around with flavored fillings and done well, but these activities appeal mainly to existing consumers. With Oreo Thins they are hoping to lure back lapsed consumers, espresso and tea sipping Millennials. In doing so they’ve let go of the twist and dunk nostalgia, but nostalgia was never going to work with these consumers in the first place. More adult cookies, such as biscotti and other thin, crispy formats, have done well in recent years, and Oreo Thins are an attempt to play in that segment of the market. It’s all about strong, adult flavors that stand up to a strong espresso or exotic tea. This new format opens the door to a whole raft of more adult innovation, expect to see sophisticated flavor variants, based on nuts, spice, cocoa, chilli, and even liqueurs.

 

Beth Bloom is a Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel and part of the US Reports team. She covers a range of CPG food and drink categories, including home baking, confectionery, lunch meat, ethnic food, and condiments. Beth has more than ten years of experience as a freelance writer/editor/researcher for regional and lifestyle magazines.

Jodie is a Global Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel, based in Sydney, Australia. With 13 years’ experience in sales, marketing and market research predominantly in the food and beverages industry, Jodie has managed major brands and worked on a full range of marketing activity including strategy, communication, NPD and research projects. Throughout her career she has gained experience in the dairy, confectionery, meal solutions, snack foods, beer and wine categories.

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