2020 saw a number of major changes to how people shop in the Impulse channel, with many of these shifts impacting the savoury snacks category.

Over half of shoppers (54%) now use a convenience store every week (Lumina). It’s not just shopper footfall that has risen either, as consumers are spending more, with basket spend increasing by +11% as well (Lumina).

The increased footfall and basket spend in symbols and independents presents a great opportunity for retailers to boost their crisps and snacks offering too. In fact, the crisps, snacks and nuts segment has grown by +5.3% (Nielsen), with much of this growth driven by demand for larger pack crisps and snacks formats within the channel.

Naturally, with the nation continuing to work from home where possible, demand for larger pack formats (sharing bags and multipacks) is likely to remain.

“Retailers will need to balance the demand for these while also keeping an eye on smaller single serve formats which we expect to start to ‘bounce back’ as restrictions ease through the UK and people are allowed to gather in greater numbers together, comments Guy Harvey, Impulse Category Management Channel Lead for PepsiCo.

“We entirely recognise that this is a difficult time for retailers,” continues Harvey. “Shopper habits and demands will continue to change over the next few months as we go from one phase of restrictions to another. As we don’t expect there will be a clear-cut shift in what to stock, our advice remains that retailers should focus on stocking their bestselling SKUs to meet shopper demand.”

To help retailers maximise their crisps and snacks sales, PepsiCo has updated its core range of bestsellers, the HERO 25 range, to include a number of RRP PMP, singles, multipacks, sharing format products that cover the different shopper missions in the channel.

Value for money is becoming increasingly important for shoppers as the financial impacts of COVID-19 continue, with 62% of shoppers acting more carefully with their money (Lumina). This desire for value impacted RRP PMPs which were the no.1 contributor to crisps and snacks segment growth last year, growing +16.3% (Nielsen).

To help symbols and independent retailers offer greater value to shoppers, PepsiCo is adding +20% Extra Free to many of its bestselling £1 RRP PMPs snacks.

“We know that shoppers love snacks such as Quavers, Wotsits, Monster Munch, Squares and French Fries, so by offering +20% Extra Free, we’re helping retailers to pass the great value onto their customers,” adds Harvey. “We think retailers can benefit by stocking all nine of these RRP PMPs snacks and driving awareness in-store.”

PepsiCo has also recently launched a number of multipack and larger sharing RRP PMP formats to help retailers sign post value to their shoppers. For the first time, two multipack SKUs will include a price-marked flash; Walkers Classic Variety and Quavers Cheese 6-packs and PepsiCo has also launched larger Doritos and Walkers Sensations PMP sharing bags with an RRP of £2, having increased in size by 20g.

With people spending more time at home, take-home missions have become far more important within symbols and independents, currently accounting for 60% of shopper missions (Kantar). Shoppers have turned to symbols and independents for top-up purchases over the last year. This trend was growing even before lockdown, but COVID-19 has helped to accelerate the growth of take-home products. Multipacks have grown by +15.6% (Nielsen), while bigger bag sharing products have also been in growth of +16.42%, and this trend is expected to continue as restrictions ease through the UK and people are allowed to gather in greater numbers together.

“We’ve also seen the rising demand for sharing formats, as consumers spend more time snacking and socialising at home, yet convenience retailers aren’t taking advantage of the opportunity,” says Harvey. “88% of independent and symbols customers’ spend on sharing happens outside of the channel (Kantar), so this represents a real opportunity for retailers to encourage consumers to increase their spend on sharing products within the impulse channel. The key to capitalising here is offering a greater number of sharing formats to meet this demand.”

Shoppers are demanding a greater range of products from their convenience stores, something that we’ve seen over the last year with 54% of shoppers now using a convenience store every week (Lumina). We saw last year that stores increased the number of crisp and snacks SKUs they ranged on average by +8 SKUs last year (Nielsen), but it can be difficult to know which products will help to drive a strong return.

“We believe it’s crucial for retailers to offer the right breadth of range to cater to shoppers’ needs in order to maximise sales,” adds Harvey. “Our flexible range, Walkers DRIVE 25, offers choice and breadth to retailers and shoppers via NPD and different pack types.”

With families within the same household spending more time together, the savoury snacks category has helped bring excitement to lunchtimes, and even helped people to unwind of an evening as part of a Big Night In. Retailers have the opportunity to appeal to shoppers looking for extra excitement, by stocking new and bold flavours.

“We know that taste is the no.1 driver of choice when buying crisps and snacks, so it’s important to stock a selection of classic favourites alongside the new flavours too,” suggests Harvey. “Over the last year, ‘Spicy’ has become the fastest-growing flavour in the UK at +13%, while demand for retro flavours (such as Quavers Prawn Cocktail and Salt & Vinegar) has also come to the fore.”

Matt Collins, Trading Director at KP Snacks, comments: “Bagged snacks remain a vital driver of growth within convenience and demand shows no sign of slowing. Since the beginning of the pandemic there has been a marked increase in savoury snacking occasions within the home, which were up 47% at the height of lockdown (Kantar), with CSN continuing to perform ahead of other impulse snacking categories such as biscuits and chocolate (Kantar). C-stores have also grown in importance with more people shopping locally.”

In the last year, KP has seen a significant increase in multipacks and sharing format sales, with familiar, trusted and well-known brands doing exceptionally well. Strong familiar brands are driving individual segment growth and KP’s diverse portfolio is currently growing at +4.9% (Nielsen) whilst meeting a range of different need states.

“The No.1 CSN category driver is taste, and we are in the business of making great tasting snacks that serve a number of customer and shopper occasions, across all snacking segments (crisps, snacks, nuts, popcorn), delivered in all formats (singles, multipacks, sharing) and up and down the value spectrum,” adds Collins.

The sharing segment is strong and growing. Worth nearly £1.3bn, the largest within CSN, it is currently experiencing growth of +8.8% (Nielsen). KP Snacks has a range of products that covers all of consumer’s ‘Together Time’ needs.

“Looking ahead, we are likely to see a dialling up of long-term trends including a focus on healthy snacking, ‘together time’ as people choose to still spend more time at home, and a heightened importance in the role of PMPs in convenience as shoppers’ budgets are squeezed,” Collins predicts.

Sarah Beck, Kettle Foods Impulse & Shopper Marketing Controller, comments: “There is currently a great deal of uncertainty around the economy driven by the pandemic; GDP is down, and we are heading into a recessionary period. Unemployment levels are rising, and the media is presenting a bleak picture of what is to come. Shoppers are therefore becoming more price conscious and have a greater awareness of basket spend. However, with this we are also seeing a rise in snacking as consumers look to make little treat purchases as opposed to spending on big ticket items.”

During lockdown consumers have been trying to emulate out of home experiences in-home e.g. movie nights in rather than trips to the cinema and treating themselves to extra special food & drink at home rather than eating out. Unsurprisingly sharing snacks such as KETTLE Chips and Metcalfe’s popcorn have increased in popularity throughout the pandemic as people seek treats and comforts, and this is likely to continue.

People are making fewer trips to stores, instead opting for larger weekly shops and increasing their use of online.

“50% of snack purchasing decisions are influenced at point of purchase (Nielsen) so it is key to establish the link between occasions, such as the Big Night In, and treating,” says Beck. “Consumers use deals as a way to navigate the fixture and cut through the clutter, so at a time when they are looking to spend less time instore, promotions are clearly important to give shoppers another reason to buy.”

There has been a move towards more local shopping which provides a number of impulse opportunities. As consumers search for easy, great quality options from brands they trust, price marked packs are a proven way to drive reassurance on value.

Vegan diets are on the rise and last year KETTLE Chips launched Vegan Sheese & Red Onion for those who crave Cheese & Onion but don’t eat dairy. The new seasoning was developed in partnership with Sheese, the well-respected vegan cheese producer and is already building a strong fan base.

As well as vegan specific products, many of the core KETTLE range are suitable for vegans including new Thai Sweet Chilli which uses an authentic Thai recipe and is available in 150g sharing bags.

KETTLE is the UK’s No.1 hand cooked crisp brand (IRI), with KETTLE sharing packs growing at 5% year-on-year (IRI).

In the convenience market, KETTLE is the second biggest sharing crisps brand by value showing year-on-year growth ahead of the category (IRI).

KETTLE sharing price marked packs (PMP) year-on-year growth is at +13% in the convenience market, out-performing the total sharing PMP category which is in decline at -9% (IRI).

Metcalfe’s is the third biggest ready-to-eat (RTE) sharing popcorn brand in the convenience market with year-on-year growth at +45%, ahead of the total RTE sharing popcorn brand category at +19% (IRI).

Snacking is a really important category with GB households purchasing, on average, twice a week (Kantar).

Indulgence is key to the category with the view that snacking should be a treat. Savoury snacks are enjoyed across all parts of the day and are core to the nation’s diet, with some consuming as an extra and in rising numbers particularly in younger consumers as a meal replacement.

“Wholesalers should always stock a solid core of well-loved snack products and elevate the category by focusing on key distinctive brands, such as KETTLE and Metcalfe’s, to add value,” suggests Beck.

This year significant media investment is planned for the KETTLE brand to include scale communication at key times (summer and pre-Xmas), alongside all year-round sponsorship activity.

Kettle’s research shows that consumers ‘save up’ their treats over the week, ready for a Friday and weekend splurge, such as Big Nights In, when they want something more special. The new ‘When It’s Special KETTLE’ advertising focuses on owning these special moments, featuring warm, sociable occasions with good friends and family.

In addition, KETTLE’s sponsorship of James Martin’s Saturday Morning, running before a key shopping time every Saturday morning creates a natural link to food quality cues and sociability. This activity reaches approx. 1/3 of UK households, over 29 times throughout the year, and has increased purchase intent by 19ppts. Kettle has recently agreed to extend this sponsorship for a second year so it will run throughout 2021. Kettle Foods provides free POS to flag premium bays and highlight the different KETTLE and Metcalfe’s pack formats.

“We recommend off shelf displays, siting complementary products together targeting occasions such as the Big Night In,” adds Beck. “Putting our sharing bags of crisps and popcorn alongside alcohol or soft drinks is a great way to up sell customers, driving retailer trial and adding value to the category.”

Pia Villa, Chief Brand Officer at graze, comments: “Over the past year we’ve seen many shoppers turning to unhealthier crisp and nut snacks as they sought ways to help lift their mood. In fact, a huge 69% of shoppers said they used snacking as a way to help them get through the day during the lockdown period.”

In recent months there has been a shift in attitudes with consumers moving away from indulgence as they started to refocus on their health, which presents a real opportunity for the healthy snacking category. Whilst the intention is clearly there, with the results of graze’s recent annual health survey of over 2,500 people showing that 53% of shoppers are trying to snack more healthily, we know their biggest barrier is being tempted by unhealthy choices.

“With graze, shoppers can enjoy a variety of delicious, portion controlled sweet and savoury snacks, without having to make a compromise between health and taste, as we deliver on both,” adds Villa.

As restrictions start to lift, the breakfast category is recovering and there is a greater focus on health for shoppers.

Movement restrictions over the past year have naturally had an impact on the cereal bar category, which was born out of the need for an on-the-go, quick and easy breakfast offering. The typical morning occasion, where we know 57% of cereal bar consumption happens, became less relevant as many people were eating breakfast at home.

The brand is are introducing a new range name – ‘Oat Boosts’, which were previously known as Oat Bites, as well as a new pack design.

Sugar is the number one concern for shoppers when it comes to cereal bars, with the average bar containing 9g of sugar, so graze has reduced its sugar content and offers the healthiest snacks possible. The new TV campaign and Oat Boosts packaging highlights that each pack offers at least 45% less sugar than the average cereal bar with just 4g of sugar per portion.

Kate Needham, Marketing Director at Burton’s Biscuit Company, comments: “As an iconic brand from the ‘80s, Burton’s Fish ‘n Chips evokes nostalgic childhood memories for today’s consumers. Flavoured with lashings of salt & vinegar, our uniquely shaped savoury snacks were brought back by popular demand in 2014 as the most sought-after retro food brand in the UK. The classic combination of strong flavours and chip-shop style packaging sets it apart from other savoury snacks on the market, making it a much-loved British snack worth £5.1M RSV.”

Ahead of a busy sporting summer, Burton’s Fish ‘N’ Chips Salt & Vinegar pack has been re-branded ‘Sport & Vinegar’, with limited edition packs available until September. In addition to the new flavour descriptor, sporty imagery will feature across all 25g and 125g pack formats.

“Customers should consider merchandising savoury snack products together within the crisps and snacks feature, while the versatility of the product also lends itself to grab and go impulse sales at the checkouts, or as part of a food to go meal deal,” adds Needham. “As we continue to emerge from lockdown and offices begin to re-open, the sector has further growth potential with grab and go and meal deal having sales potential alongside increased household spending.”

Scott Snell, Vice President of Customer at pladis UK & Ireland, comments: “Looking at convenience specifically, the crisps and snacks category is worth £975 million, having attracted over 150,000 additional buyers in 2020. Its success can be largely attributed to the core ranges from iconic snacking brands, which are driving huge growth.”

In fact, across the convenience channel, the top 10 crisps and snacks brands are worth £1.49 billion (Nielsen).

This includes Jacob’s Mini Cheddars, worth £17.2 million in convenience (Nielsen) and Jacob’s Twiglets, worth £1.9 million in convenience (Nielsen).

Jacob’s Mini Cheddars Smoky BBQ PMP – a flavour which makes up 32% of sales for the brand in the convenience channel (Kantar) – has already generated over £160,000 worth of sales since launching last August (Nielsen).

The Jacob’s Mini Cheddars PMP line-up has expanded with the launch of three of its most popular flavour variants – Red Leicester, Nacho Cheese & Jalapeno and Ploughman’s Cheshire Cheese – in PMP format. “We all know wholesale depots are big places, so it’s important that wholesalers focus on maintaining stock of the bestselling products and driving visibility of these key lines in-depot so their retail customers can tick off everything on their shopping list – and access the brands they need – as easily as possible. Simplifying the experience will ensure independent retailers come back to depot, or shop online, time and time again,” advises Snell.

“Wholesalers can generate higher sales growth through mindful merchandising. This means clearly communicating the bestselling lines in-depot – for example, by beacon branding with Jacob’s at the end of the aisle. This will help to point retailers in the direction of the savoury snacks, whilst also earmarking the bestselling SKUs – helping to drive sales.

“Essentially, it’s all about making the shopping experience as seamless as possible by utilising clear signage and dedicating plenty of space in-depot to satisfy demand for the bestselling products.”

To celebrate a summer of sport and to keep the fun in football, Pringles is teaming up with football freestyler Lia Lewis to invent a new signature trick. The football freestyler will be showing off her skills with an empty Pringles can and encouraging everyone from football fanatics to the part-time fans to put their best foot forward.

Pringles is also bringing back football favourites Doner Kebab and Pulled Pork Burger flavours due to popular demand. RRP £2.99, the limited-edition flavours are available in major retailers now.

Lia will also be inspiring Pringles lovers to attempt her new trick and show how fun football can be for everyone.

Florence Kayll, UK activation brand manager at Pringles, said “We’re really excited for the summer of football and can’t wait to see all of our Pringles’ fans having a go at Lia’s trick. Pringles’ aim is to put the fun in football and we hope everyone gets involved and enjoys the summer season.”

Matt Smith, Marketing Director for Tayto Group, comments: “Crisps, Snacks and Popcorn is a mature £3bn market in steady growth of +3.6% (IRI) showing that we are a nation of snackers – especially when times are tough! We’ve all needed some of our favourite treats to get us through the past year.”

The star performer was pork snacks, which was the fastest growing category (+10.1%) in which Mr Porky is the No. 1 brand with 43% market share (IRI).

As consumers have enjoyed ‘enforced Big Nights In’, £1 PMP snacks have grown three times faster than the market and now account for nearly 40% of snacks, with family favourites such as Golden Wonder Ringos and Transform-A-Snack brands performing well in this format.

“Wholesalers must ensure that they have a pork snacks range suitable for the retail sector as, whilst scratchings may be the ultimate pub snack, more are sold in shops than in pubs,” advises Smith. “Not everyone will choose to rush back to the pub, as many have a new-found preference for staying at home, where the ‘home bar’ or ‘garden bar’ has come into its own. Consumers frequently talk about buying their pork scratchings ‘at the offie’, by which they mean their local convenience store and so the wholesalers should be stocking the recently launched range of pork snacks clipstrips from the two leading brands – Mr Porky and Midland Snacks. These handy, highly visible clipstrips, allow pork scratchings to be merchandised with BWS without taking up precious floor or shelf space in a convenience store.” ‘

 

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