The US Snack Index is an annual yardstick that explores the preferences and behaviours of Americans for holiday snacking – and into the new year.
According to the Index, 70% of those polled placed the ‘crunch’ factor in poll position of what makes up the perfect snack. Sweet followed with 66% – evident, perhaps, that bizarre variants like Chocolate-Covered Lay’s and Lay’s Coconut Milk Purple Sweet Potato do resonate with adventurous eaters. However, the quest for salty is still up there (61%) and nowadays, with the cost-of-living-crisis driving consumers to look for additional value for every dollar spent, being ‘filling’ is important (53%).
Almost half of those surveyed (49%) expressed a desire for nostalgia: something that reminds them of a specific moment in time.
“Consumers are at the heart of all we do, so considering every component of a snack – including the crunch factor – is very important to us,” said Denise Lefebvre, senior VP of R&D for Frito-Lay and Quaker Foods North America.
What makes the perfect snack?
While Frito-Lay predicts that the average American adult will continue to seek out crunchy snacks in 2023 – there will be generational differences that will impact the trend.
No one knows when the first one-size-fits-all garment hit shelves, but the idea was well established by the time Frank Zappa’s album One Size Fits All came out in 1975. It then experienced a major surge in popularity with haute couture houses offering one-size items that appealed to the masses.
The concept that one-size-fits-all might suit the garment industry, but it certainly has no place in the snacking space.
Ho-ho-ho holiday snacking
Frito-Lay’s Index confirms that snacking habits vary by generation:
- Nearly 50% of Gen Z believes snacking is most satisfying after dark and are twice as likely to order a delivery when a craving hits.
- On the other hand, 50% of Millennials satisfy their late-night snack cravings by visiting grocery or convenience stores.
- GenXers (64%) and Boomers (62%) are most likely to prepare a recipe at home.
- However, the lure of experimenting in the kitchen is growing in tandem with social media, and the Index found 62% of GenZers and 52% of Millennials will lock into their phones and laptops to try out holiday recipes.
- Many of these will be based on reimaging their favourite snacks: 46% of Americans are more likely to try a recipe made with Lay’s Potato Chips, 50% with Rold Gold Pretzels and 37% with Cheetos Original.
To ensure all generations have loads of inspiration, Frito-Lay and its sister brand Quaker have revamped its dedicated recipe site – More Smiles With Every Bit – that empowers consumers to get creative by incorporating PepsiCo products into their daily lives. The site also encourages submissions of standout creations and snacking ideas.
“As people of all ages experiment with recipes and enjoy snacks this holiday season, we’re excited to bring them new limited time products such as Lay’s Clusters, Cheetos Snowflakes, PopCorners Cinnamon Sugar and more, as well as fun new recipes made by our very own consumers that include your favourite snacks,” said Lefebvre.
Spread the love
Snacking goes hand-in-hand with warm, fuzzy feelings – as do the holidays.
According to the Index, while 65% of adults grab for a snack when they want to treat themselves, 61% are unlikely to crave snacks when they are feeling down.
It’s important these moments of joy also provide an intensely sensory experience, with 55% indicating their tastebuds start to twitch upon smelling a certain snack, while the adage of ‘eating with your eyes’ certainly comes into play for 52% of Americans, who crave snacks when they see them.
Snackers – in the main – are adventurous animals, with 45% of them constantly on the lookout for a limited edition flavour. 49% look forward to variety and party packs that adorn the shelves during the holiday season.
2022 will be no different and specialty offerings will be a key factor.
This year, Americans also want to spread the love – even more important in these harsh times of runaway inflation and rising energy costs – with 55% planning on purchasing at least one value-add sharing pack to share with friends and family over the holidays.
“We know the perfect snack is different for everyone, which is why we constantly listen to consumers and then engage our chefs and our Culinary Centre to provide variety, deliver on flavour and explore new recipes consumers love,” added Lefebvre.
This poll was conducted by Morning Consult between 4-7 November 2022 among a national sample of 2,212 US adults. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of Adults based on gender, educational attainment, age, race, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Frito-Lay North America is the $19 billion convenient foods division of New York-headquartered PepsiCo, with a portfolio that includes Lay’s, Ruffles, Doritos, Cheetos, Tostitos, SunChips and Fritos. The company operates over 30 manufacturing facilities across the US and Canada, serving more than 315,000 retail customers per week through its direct-store-delivery (DSD) model.
As people of all ages experiment with recipes and enjoy snacks this holiday season, Frito-Lay is rolling out limited time products such as Lay’s Clusters, Cheetos Snowflakes and more, as well as fun new recipes that include everyone’s favourite snacks.