Emotional support snacks? The shifting salty snack market

Emotional support snacks? The shifting salty snack market

March 8, 2023
3 min read

Most consumers aren’t just eating to live, and, especially with snacks, hunger will not always be driving the occasion. Brands have an opportunity, both with messaging and product development, to reimagine what a snack is and what snacking can mean. 

Provide emotional support snacks

Consumers are most likely to choose snacks to meet emotional needs, with over two-thirds choosing snacks for relaxing and to satisfy a craving. Secondary to these emotional consumption needs is the motivation to satisfy hunger. Salty Snacks must be versatile in their ability to meet different occasions, but at base, they must simply bring consumers joy. While snacks inspired by flavorful dishes are not new to the market, products with intriguing but believable flavor combinations can be an easy and fun solution to satisfy certain food cravings.

Evolve with snack time occasions

When it comes to salty snacks, rest, relaxation and relief are most important, even outpacing hunger as a motivator. As consumers continue to navigate stressful and evolving times, salty snacks can be there to help them slow down and even relieve stress. While convenience and portability remain important in supporting salty snacks’ ability to meet versatile needs, brands must consider the importance of the slowed-down snacking occasion, perhaps facilitating an experience that meets more emotional needs.

Brands need a diverse and flexible approach to engaging the salty snacker, which includes messaging around snacks, packaging and product options. While messaging can help those who are snacking more find a place for salty varieties, flavor innovation can keep consumers from getting bored or slowing down consumption in the future. Resealable and smaller packaging works well for on-the-go consumers and will keep salty snacks at their fingertips regardless of what the day brings.

Tap into the “treat yourself” narrative

Personal purchasing leads the market, as adults look for ways to incorporate small indulgences into their day-to-day lives. It’s easy to say yes to impulses and cravings when non-chocolate candy is associated with the “You deserve it” message, especially when coupled with associations of a mood boost. 

Non-chocolate confectionery is most often a personal purchase, made to meet different needs while tapping into personal emotions. Products that provide a consumption experience that brings joy, comfort and nostalgia will foster a connection with consumers in a market when purchases are split. Personal treats play a role specific to each consumer, from a moment of happiness to a part of a self-care routine. Securing a place in daily routines is an opportunity to gain consumer allegiance in a market where consumers are less loyal in purchasing. 

What we think

Snacking is not going away. There has been an increase of snacking frequency over time. Snacks are stereotypically an on-the-go or quick solution to hunger, but salty snacks mean more than that to consumers. Brands should appeal to consumers’ emotional needs first with salty snacks that support a somewhat slowed-down experience.

For more information about the salty snack industry, please contact your Account Manager today or click here for more information. 

Kelsey Olsen
Kelsey Olsen

Kelsey joined Mintel in 2022 as a US Food and Drink Analyst. In her current role, Kelsey uses her expertise to identify changing consumer behavior, industry trends, and innovations across packaged food and drink categories. Prior to joining Mintel Kelsey worked for Daymon managing the private label business and new product development for Midwest retailer Lunds and Byerlys.  

Kelsey has a B.A. in Nutrition with a concentration in Food Studies and Business from the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota.

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