Although snacking habits evolve, nostalgia remains part of our diet

Walking down the aisle at the grocery store, it seems like there are more snack options than ever before. So how do you choose what to eat? While some grab familiar favorites, others are curious about new products that can satisfy their evolving tastes. Either way, consumers are filling their carts with cookies, chips and bars.

According to a new study by snack giant Mondelēz International, nearly 90 percent of consumers surveyed reported eating snacks daily.

Mondelēz is one of the world’s largest snack companies, with revenues of approximately $36 billion by 2023. Its brands include snack staples such as Chips Ahoy, Oreo, Honey Maid, Ritz, Triscuit and brands international chocolate companies such as Cadbury and Milka.

Last week, Mondelēz released its 2023 State of Snacking report, which shares insights into global consumer trends in snacking. This is the company’s fifth annual report that tracks snacking trends across countries and demographics. The study, which was conducted in partnership with The Harris Poll, surveyed more than 3,600 adults in 12 countries.

Overall, the study found that people want more from their snacks. Consumers choose brands that align with their values ​​and report placing more emphasis on snacking for perceived health benefits, such as increasing energy, improving mood, and aligning with fitness goals. Nearly 80% said they enjoy snacks more “when consumed mindfully,” and 67% said they look for snacks that work to minimize their environmental impact.

said Martin Renaud, director of marketing and international sales at Mondelēz Newsweek that the company uses the report’s findings to inform many of its marketing decisions, as snacking remains “a consistent daily ritual.”

“We are following consumer behaviors and needs very closely,” he said. “The vast majority of people snack every day … and we’ve seen that habit continue to grow from more active snacking a day.”

Mondelēz was one of them NewsweekAmerica’s Most Trusted Companies 2023 in the Food & Beverage category. Building and maintaining that trust comes down to consistency, as the brand needs to make sure it offers the same product every day so consumers can have the same experience every time, Renaud said.

“[It] it sounds easy, but it’s not,” he said. “We can’t disappoint any of our consumers.”

As snacking habits continue to evolve, companies are looking for ways to retain loyal consumers while reaching out to new demographics.

According to the study, snacking remains a regular part of people’s lives: 6 in 10 respondents said they prefer small meals throughout the day rather than a few larger meals.

Jordan Anthony, a Los Angeles-based dietitian who has worked in corporate nutrition for years, attributes this trend to the ease and convenience of snacking: Grabbing a snack from the pantry requires no prep work and can easily fit into your busy schedule. ‘a person. schedule.

“People are so busy and they don’t have time to go and cook and sit down and make a full meal,” she said. “So they’re just taking things that are quick and easy.”

Anthony notes, however, that there has been a shift since the pandemic, as people are looking for healthier snacks.

“There was a huge influx of snacks during COVID [and] now that people are back to work and back on campuses,” he said, “I think people are still used to eating at least one snack a day.”

The shift towards more conscious snacking is on the rise. Compared to five years ago, when the first State of Snacking study was published, Mondelēz found that 67 percent of consumers are paying more attention to nutritional value and portion size.

“Snacking will always be there, and people will always do it [snack] and I encourage people to do that,” Anthony said. “I hope people will continue to choose better-for-you snacks because I think companies will continue to give consumers what they want.”

Snacks are sold at a supermarket in New York City on December 14, 2022. Mondelz International, a global snack company that owns brands such as Ritz, Wheat Thins and Triscuit, recently released its 2023 state…

Yuki IWAMURA/AFP via Getty Images

Snacking can be a very emotional experience for many people. During a time of unprecedented stress and uncertainty, many people turned to food to help cope with their feelings amid the pandemic.

“People snack because they’re hungry, but a lot of people snack out of boredom, and then people snack because they’re stressed and it’s a comforting stress reliever,” Anthony said. “If someone is stressed or needs that extra comfort or just really overwhelmed, we tend to gravitate toward those snacks that aren’t super nutrient dense. We just want to feel a little better and we’re having a lot of emotions. , so we’re having these comfort foods.”

The emotions associated with eating date back to childhood, when many people established their preferences for snacking. According to the State of Snacking report, 76 percent of consumers surveyed said they have been loyal to certain snacks or brands for a long time.

From a marketing perspective, Renaud said the emotional aspect of the snack is “huge.” He said consumers tend to return to brands that feel comfortable to them.

“Right now, that’s where you see the importance of having trusted brands ingrained in people’s lives,” he said. “It’s in the oven [into] your childhood and snacks [are] linked to very big and strong moments of consumption in life. The products that your mother [gave] for you when you come home from school, that’s forever.”

Jen Millard, a chief revenue officer who specializes in consumer loyalty, said many companies are trying to strengthen that emotional connection that starts early in a consumer’s life.

“Everybody loves nostalgia,” he said. “Nostalgia never gets old.”

While a brand can attract a customer through an emotional connection, that connection can only go so far. Mondelēz therefore has to balance evolution to meet consumer needs while staying true to its roots to deliver the best product experience.

Renaud said that following consumer needs is part of Mondelēz’s strategy. One of the company’s biggest initiatives is a push to offer more choices to consumers. Namely, the launch of Gluten Free Oreos.

Launching gluten-free Oreos was “obvious,” Renaud said, since it’s the largest cookie brand in the world. The challenge was to make this inclusive option as tasty as the regular product, as Renaud recognized that when you adjust a snack to be sugar-free or low-fat, for example, taste is often compromised.

“In the case of gluten-free Oreos, we cracked the code,” he said. “We have a great product, and we were even surprised on social media — people were saying, ‘Wow, I couldn’t believe it tasted so good.’

Mondelez Oreos
A display of Oreo cookie variations is seen at the Museum of Failure in Los Angeles on December 7, 2017. Mondelz International, a global snack company that owns brands such as Oreo, Chips Ahoy and…

ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Millard, a consumer loyalty expert, said consumers often don’t realize how data-driven their snack brand choice is.

“What [brands] what they’re trying to do is called “pantry data,” he said. “What the consumer actually puts in their pantry is very difficult to discern from direct point-of-sale data.”

Millard noted that gluten-free is a health trend that companies like Mondelēz can determine using data through consumer studies and panels. He said repositioning Oreo as gluten-free, a healthier option, was a “very data-driven decision” to appeal to Gen Z consumers.

“[Gen Z] it’s still focused on wellness,” he said. “They have a purpose about what they put in their bodies, and I think a lot of the snack brands are really trying to pare down, simplify things. [with] simpler ingredients and less processed foods, all the kinds of things that consumers now recognize affect their health.”

Maintaining a consumer base not only requires creating more choices, but a company must also advertise those choices correctly.

The 2023 State of Snacking report found that 56 percent of people surveyed discover snacks on social media, with 72 percent of people in younger generations researching new snacks online.

“If we think about our strategies to connect with consumers, digital has taken up a huge space,” said Renaud. “We’re now over 60 percent of our investment in digital, and the majority of that investment will now go into social media and social platforms.”

Product advertising on social media is key to targeting the younger demographic, as apps like Instagram and TikTok have evolved the buying behavior of young people.

“You see this a lot in supplements, once you click on one of these in your feed, you’re presented with hundreds of options,” Millard said. “I think young people specifically feel more comfortable shopping that way.”

As Mondelēz looks ahead, Renaud acknowledges the “tension” of evolving as a brand while “staying true to your roots.”

“The absolutely key thing is to stay relevant and contemporary,” said Renaud. “The biggest fear for me [is] whether our brands get dusted or really focus on… older consumers.”

But he’s optimistic about the future, saying the snack is “here to stay.”

“Snack is an absolutely fantastic space for businesses because it’s a growing area,” he said. “We have incredible brands in this field and we’re working very hard to strengthen our brands and continue the journey.”