BY LEIGH MORRIS
Managing director, Bonamy Finch
The growth in sales of popcorn in the UK – with flavours as diverse as curry and wasabi performing well against standard sweet and salty variants – combined with a decline in sales of crisps suggests that snack brands should turn to deeper insights on changing consumer habits to underpin their new product development and marketing activity.
Research from Mintel recently reported that sales of popcorn in the UK reached £105m in 2014, up 40% from £75m in 2013. The average Briton now eats around 5kg of popcorn per year. This growth has coincided with a decrease in consumption of crisps with sales down almost 2% in the past year to £923.2m and the volume of crisps sold also down 0.4%. Sales of savoury snacks like biscuits and tortillas, in contrast, increased over the same period by 4.1%.
Brands whose NPD or marketing strategy has been based on fragments of data from multiple sources may be working with serious gaps in their knowledge. They need to have a better understanding of what we are snacking on, when and why, may also be unclear about who their primary target groups actually are, and importantly, the financial value of groups whose needs they are not currently addressing.
Some snack manufacturers may benefit from adopting a market tier definition approach that identifies and places a value on discrete market tiers. These range from the core and secondary (those at the heartland of the category), to the periphery (with potential to bring more value to the category), to those who are ultimately (for now at least) are out of market. Understanding the structure of the market in this way provides a sound commercial foundation for marketing initiatives.
We all know that crisps have something of an image problem in an increasingly health-conscious market. Sales of traditional crisps are beginning to suffer compared with snacks that are perceived to be healthier or whose flavours are imaginative enough to attract consumer interest. Against this background, snack manufacturers could benefit from insights that help them understand how and why we are consuming snacks so they can structure their commercial plans accordingly.
Within the population there will be several different groups of consumers. The first might choose a particular type of snack several times a week and be attitudinally positive towards it. There might have a second group who consume it weekly and a further group who aren’t regular snack eaters due to specific psychological or functional barriers. Brand owners wishing to understand the strengths of their brand, and where it might be differentiated, may only recruit to their core or secondary groups to get really effective working insights. If there is strong untapped financial potential in the periphery group, they may focus on these people to understand the barriers that are blocking category growth. The market tier approach means brands don’t waste money and other resources talking to 100% of the market regardless of the business issue. Instead they use their market tier structure to design more effective/efficient research. By adopting a market tier approach to research they can gain insight that not only addresses the prospects for snacks in general but specifically for the type of snack or snacks that they produce.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020