Occasion-based snacking during events like the Super Bowl, Christmas or Thanksgiving is driven by tradition, fun and indulgence not health, an analyst says.
Calendar occasions like sporting events and public holidays can be lucrative for snack makers, but Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel, said the consumer choice will always be traditional snacks, not healthy.
“Consumers tend to go for what’s familiar. Tradition absolutely trumped health at the Super Bowl this year. It’s like Christmas or Thanksgiving – the traditional choices are the ones consumers turn to the most,” Dornblaser told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“Chips, dip, popcorn, chicken wings, pizza – that kind of thing are the popular traditional snacks,” she said.
“I think occasion-prompted snacking will always be indulgent. These occasions are about fun and letting loose a bit,” she added.
Healthy opportunities for occasion-snacking?
“Healthy versions of the traditional snacks could work, but the ones that work the best are the ones that deliver the flavor and experience,” Dornblaser said.
She suggested wholegrain potato chips and reduced-salt popcorn as healthier snacks that could prove popular on occasions.
“The best way for healthy snacks to succeed is to be fun and tasty. It’s difficult to do, but the best healthy products are those that taste delicious,” she said.
“The healthy snack would have to have a flavor that is fun, and positioning the product is first about the flavor and secondarily about the health,” she added.
However, the analyst said that it was unlikely events like the Super Bowl would ever be huge occasions for healthy snacking, despite evidence of a shift towards health in the wider snacks market.
Planned, post-occasion opportunities
Dornblaser said that typically, healthy snacks are planned as opposed to impulsive and therefore there could be opportunities for manufacturers to promote products after unhealthy snacking events, like the Super Bowl.
“Just as with the New Year’s resolutions that consumers make that often result in eating healthier for a while, the same could happen with the Super Bowl,” she said.
“For those consumers who make a point of going to a party or really enjoying the game, they may wake up Monday morning with a bit of remorse and vow to leave behind the chips and dip, wings and pizza for a while. That opens the door for them to choose healthier snack options,” she added.
“The healthy snacks will do well for the weeks after the Super Bowl.”