Healthier options, niche marketing and exotic new flavours are helping manufacturers win the battle of the snack aisle
THE demand for healthier munchies is driving innovation in the snack market according to Walkers. Launching this month, its latest NPD is Walkers Pops, an air-popped snack with half the fat of a standard crisp.
Walkers Pops joins the company’s other “better-for-you” options such as Walkers SunBites, Walkers Baked and Walkers Lights. Last year’s healthy launch was Walkers Baked Hoops and Crosses – X- and O-shaped corn snacks containing wholegrain and dietary fibre.
Pops come in Sour Cream & Onion, Cheese & Crispy Bacon, Prawn Cocktail, and Original flavours, in multipacks of six (RRP £1.99) and single packs (RRP 63p). Prawn Cocktail is not available in single packs.
Matt Goddard, head of impulse field sales with Walkers’ owner PepsiCo, said: “We expect Walkers Pops to do very well in 2014 as it ticks all the boxes that many shoppers are looking for, offering consumers a new taste and texture experience from a brand they already know and trust, while fulfilling demand for more better-for-you, convenient products. Our exciting advertising and support campaign will keep the new addition front of mind throughout the year.”
Walkers is also upping the ante with its 2014 Do Us A Flavour campaign, with a top prize of £1m and five finalists in line for £10,000 each.
The promotion invites Walkers’ consumers to create a new flavour for the brand, using at least one home- grown ingredient from a list including Somerset cheddar, Devonshire chicken, Norfolk pork, Dorset sour cream and Vale of Evesham tomatoes.
The judges will include comedian and author David Walliams, and Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White. The competition is the focus of Walkers’ current TV ad, in which brand ambassador Gary Lineker is bombarded with suggestions.
Walliams, who was recently a judge on Britain’s Got Talent, said: “I’m looking for creativity and diversity, something that stands out. I’m excited to see what flavour suggestions the nation will come up with. Going by what I know the British public are capable of, it’ll be interesting.”
Pierre White added: “As a nation, we are incredibly proud of the quality of our home-grown ingredients and I’m eager to see how the British public will incorporate these ingredients to create the best flavour. For me, it’s important that the top six are flavour suggestions that taste and sound fantastic.”
• Crisp brand Burts Chips has invested heavily to keep its market share of the buoyant crisps and snacks market In 2013 the Devon-based firm spent £1.2m revamping the products and packaging.
Marketing director Leane Bramhall said: “We realised that we no longer had a unique design, with competitors launching similar packaging. In-depth consumer panels helped us to revamp our packaging and realign key messages to strengthen the brand’s position among competitors.”
Another £2.1m went on expanding and improving the factory. Much of that expenditure went to improve the gas flushing technology. It gives Burts Chips products a longer shelf life, 26 weeks, instead of the 20 weeks they had previously.
Artisanal brands continue to thrive as consumers look for luxury products to have as treats, Bramhall said.
“When entertaining at home, consumers look for premium products to share with guests and as a result investors are looking for new avenues to explore and opportunities to capitalise upon within the snacking industry.
“The development of new formats, such as popcorn and low-fat options, and more adventurous flavours, increase the scope for brand consolidation.
“With signs indicating that the sharing and premium snacking market will continue to grow between 2013 and 2017 by 30.5%, according to Snack Food Markets Report, Burts recognises that if consumers are going to treat themselves they want brands to offer great quality and a point of difference, whether this is a new format of snack, packaging, quirky flavours or unique brand messaging.”
• For Nando’s snack range, produced under licence by All About Food, it’s all about the flavour. Marketing manager, James Beaumont, said: “Despite trends such as healthy eating and squeezed budgets, taste will always be crucial in the snacking market. Snacks, particularly crisps, are seen as a treat and as such, they need to deliver on taste and quality. The flavour experience is key.
“Nando’s has recently revamped its Peri-Peri Groove Cut Potato Chips to comprise three flavours unique to the market: Smokey BBQ, Spicy Chicken and Sizzling Hot, to deliver on these high consumer taste expectations.”
The company has tweaked the range to appeal to male snackers who, it says, especially appreciate bold flavours and unfussy packaging.
“Data from Kantar Worldpanel demonstrates that there is an increase in male consumers eating crisps as a snack outside of the home, as an affordable, tasty treat,” said Beaumont.
“Following the relaunch, sales of Nando’s Peri-Peri Groove Cut Potato Chips have grown by 300% in the last quarter, demonstrating the appeal with this audience.”