The limited edition sugar-puffed snack will launch across the US mid-February. Frito-Lay filed the trademark for the brand name in April, 2014.
Matthew Hudak, packaged foods analyst at Euromonitor International, said Frito-Lay had been dipping its toes in the sweet snacking segment for a while, with the likes of Lay’s Wavy chocolate-covered chips and chocolate pretzels.
“In general, they’ve been looking to put some sweet into their portfolio – it gives them a new avenue. Part of the sweet snacking trend is that it’s worked with younger consumers, so they’re hoping they can latch on there,” he told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“Cheetos are skewed to a reasonably young audience. They don’t want to seem they’re blatantly going after kids, but at a certain age it is fine.”
Does sweet snacking resonate with consumers?
Asked if sweet snacks truly appealed to consumers, Hudak said some companies had found success. For example, he said that US popcorn brand Boom Chicka Pop's most popular flavor was ‘lightly sweetened’.
While consumers were more familiar with sweet varieties in the popcorn sector, he said these taste preferences and expectations had evolved and the same could happen for other snack products.
“It all just comes down to how it tastes really, but in terms of trying it there have been plenty of instances where consumers have been willing to do so. Pringles, for example, tried it with seasonal sweet versions.” Pringles has developed a host of sweet/savory festive snacks over the years, including mint chocolate, sweet cinnamon and pecan pie.
For manufacturers looking to successfully develop sweet snacks, Hudak said it was about finding the particular segment of consumers interested in such products.
Testing the water…
Frito-Lay’s decision to launch Cheetos Sweetos as a limited edition snack was a strategy Hudak said had become the “name of the game” for most companies with new product development.
“For the most part, it kind of limits some of the risk but if done correctly you can get enough feedback to know whether that product works – you limit the number of failures overall.”
“It means they’re able to find and select markets and get enough data to find out whether this is a winner or not. You look at candy, with M&Ms for example, they do limited launches for products within the fall season and eventually they can then roll it out,” he said.