Fritos anyone? Why the 4th of July weekend will be good for the savory snack makers
Covid-19 has a significant impact on consumer habits and has forced marketers to adapt in several ways. With the easing of travel restrictions in the United States, marketers must now adapt to an environment in which consumers are once again more mobile. The results of Frito Lay’s latest US Snack Index survey reveal some key market trends. To analyze these trends and Frito-Lay’s strategies to address them, I interviewed Mike Del Pozzo, Frito-Lay’s client office manager. The three trends examined below have illustrated some big lessons for the field.
1) Consumers will “catch up” on travel and other types of consumption this summer
Americans are trying to catch up on activities that were missed in 2020. Frito-Lay data shows that more than half (53%) of American adults plan for this year’s holiday weekend to be different from last year, with almost two-thirds (62%) planning to spend time outside the home. Additionally, the US Snack Index reveals that while the majority of adults (63%) plan to snack “about the same,” 23% of adults plan to snack more on July 4th compared to last year. Generation Z (34%) and Millennials (37%) are the cohorts with the highest percentage of consumers who say they will snack more. As CCO Del Pozzo observes, âAs mobility returns, we continue to see a theme that we saw emerge in early summer: Consumers are fitting two summers into one (people are snacking more)â¦ and are looking forward to celebrating with their family and friends. “
Frito-Lay data suggests Americans are looking forward to a very festive four-day vacation weekend. Forty-three percent of adults plan to watch fireworks and 36 percent will go to an outdoor barbecue, while only a third plan to stay home and celebrate with family and / or members of the household.
The high level of snacks expected over the holiday weekend bodes well for Frito-Lay as salty snacks were the main dietary contributor to retail sales growth. In general, many familiar âcomfort foodsâ appear to have worked well during the pandemic. Del Pozzo notes: âDuring the pandemic, consumers turned to Frito-Lay snacks to enjoy at home. We’re fortunate to have a portfolio of brands that already had strong consumer loyalty before the pandemic, and Frito-Lay’s vision of always being everywhere is what keeps our snacks going in 94% of households. “
2) Consumers now expect products to be available when and where they want
Del Pozzo believes that the most important trend Frito-Lay has had to respond to during the pandemic is changes in shopping habits in terms of time and place. âThe biggest change is the way consumers shop and the convenience they expect to receive products when and where they want them,â he says, âhe said,â These changes have made it imperative to “Provide consumers with the options of shopping online, curbside pickup or delivery, or in-store. We don’t expect these consumer buying behaviors to slow down anytime soon.”
Frito-Lay’s survey finds that since COVID restrictions eased, 41% of Americans say their snack-buying habits have changed. While a third buy more snacks online, most adults still buy their summer snacks in person, at the store (84%), as in-person retail remains strong. However, in the future, further growth in e-commerce sales is expected – Frito-Lay has seen explosive growth in eConvenience / fast delivery, with sales now ten times higher than at the start of 2020 .
Del Pozzo reports that a key part of Frito Lay’s response going forward is to strive to make the product practical to obtain by stating, âFor Frito-Lay, our DSD model has maintained our strong presence in stores. while e-commerce has accelerated and we predict it will double by 2025. Overall, e-commerce remains a strong channel, with online snack sales up about 47% year on year on the other. He further articulates the strategy as follows: âAs part of our ‘Always, Everywhere’ vision, we are everywhere, ensuring that we are in the channels that consumers turn to. As proof, we have created snacks.com, which allows consumers to create their own variety packs according to their tastes and preferences and have them delivered to their homes.
3) While familiar products were popular during the pandemic, innovation will be needed in the future
In some ways, the pandemic has favored familiar products to consumers. The Frito-Lay Snack Index suggests that classic flavors and savory snacks (as opposed to sweet or new flavors) will dominate July 4 celebrations, as more than half of adults plan to stock up on them. If the pandemic and associated restrictions continue to ease, however, it makes sense for consumers to return to the quest for variety and innovation. Indeed, the Snack Index survey reveals that three in five adults (59%) say they are looking for healthier snack options.
Del Pozzo emphasizes that Frito-Lay recognizes the need to innovate. He cites a trend towards increased demand for spicy flavors, especially among younger consumers. âWhen we look at our year-over-year data for the U.S. Snack Index, we saw a 7 point change (or 28% increase) in summer flavor preferences, away from classics and more towards new spicy and daring flavors. Frito-Lay has therefore created multipack snack options to satisfy our consumers and launched occasional snacks that give our consumers the taste they are looking for at special times throughout the year.
Del Pozzo also specifies that the company created the snacks.com platform so that consumers can create their own variety packs according to their tastes and preferences and have them delivered to their homes: âInnovation is the key to our business. As we continue to be close to our consumers’ preferences and attentive to how products will be available, we have developed new flavors including Lay’s Flamin ‘Hot, Doritos Xxtra Flamin’ Hot Nacho and more.
As demonstrated above, Frito-Lay’s strategy is effective in using data to quickly track and adapt to short and long term trends, and in a way that serves the consumer.