Marcia Mogelonsky
Marcia Mogelonsky, Ph. D. is the Director of Insight, Food & Drink, at Mintel. Her expertise focuses on consumer behavior across a range of categories.

With consumers snacking now more than ever, snacks have replaced meals as the standard eating occasions. Motivating consumers to try something new and keeping their attention in a snacking industry that is saturated with product innovation present big challenges for manufacturers.

Next week at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago, Director of Insight, Mintel Food and Drink, Marcia Mogelonsky will provide attendees with an in-depth analysis of current trends in snacking. Here, we’re offering a sneak preview of five of those trends:

Taste is not the only driver

It’s not all about taste. Of course snacks have to taste great, but all of the senses are engaged when snacking. We eat with our eyes as well as our mouths. Eye-catching colors, engaging textures and creative packaging all contribute to a snack’s success. With the growing interest in natural colors, there is room to incorporate vegetables and florals into new snack offerings. In this “Instagrammable,” shareable era, it’s the most colorful and dynamic snack that grabs our attention.

Every snack should tell a story

We want to know the story behind our snacks. It’s not just eating snacks with identifiable ingredients and recognizable origins, it’s also snacks that have authenticity or a storied history. We know that consumers love “old-fashioned” snacks and nostalgia is a big factor in snack choice, but there’s also room for “new-stalgia” and creative options that Millennials and Gen-Z will share with their children.

Snacks should tell your story

Can we have snacks that tell our story? Personalization and customization are the way of the future. It started with DIY M&Ms, Coke’s “named” cans and Nutella’s personalized message labels, but there’s room for more. A number of online companies offer custom snack boxes and customizable snack blends. 3D printing and other new technologies will make it possible for us to tailor our snacks to our personal wants and needs.

Balance is key

Balance is the key word for successful new snacks. Consumers want to indulge, but also want healthy options. More than ever, snacking is about balancing the ‘good’ with the ‘bad.’ Consumers may look for healthier options like vegetables or fruit for one snack, but allow themselves to eat chips for the next one. Looking for healthy indulgence in the same snack is also on trend with snackers choosing wholegrains, vegan, or Paleo snacks to satisfy snack urges while supporting good intentions.

Snack saturation

The perception of the snack market is that everything is a snack these days. In our frenetic, on-the-go society, snacks can be mini-meals, bits, bites, or just about anything else. That’s not necessarily good for consumers, unless they make themselves heard. And it’s not just standing out in a growing array of snack options; it’s also standing out on store shelves.