Fancy a snack? Fancy a huge profit opportunity? Silly question. Of course you do. Day or night, a greater part of the UK population spends more time on the move now than in past generations – and for retailers of all sizes it translates into snack purchases. When we‘re at work we’re under pressure to perform, and when we return home, we’re busy with whatever it is we’re doing there as well, and we don’t have the time or the inclination to eat properly. Which means we do more snacking in both places.
If you want to be specific, a snack can either mean a hurried or light meal, or food eaten between meals. This isn’t exactly a new phenomenon – the word is reckoned to come from a Middle English word from the fifteenth century. Today snacking products can cover anything from crisps, snacks and nuts to fruit, nut and seed treats, as well as biscuits and small cakes, with microwaveable snacks coming up fast on the rails behind them.
There’s a snacking product out there for every age, taste and pocket, and it’s a market that’s always open to new suppliers with exciting, innovative ideas. The ‘hero’ products that are top of mind in any era very much reflect our tastes and lifestyles.
Back in the early 1990s salty snacks ruled, led by crisps in particular. Even then, the UK bagged snack market was worth more than the economies of many countries, and was built and sustained by heavyweight investment. When Gary Lineker retired from professional football he became even more famous promoting Walkers Crisps, which lest we forget are made in Gary’s hometown Leicester, where he started his career playing for the local club.
In the early 2000s, when new media was the big idea and technology was transforming all our lives, gaming was where the action was. Kepak built its Rustlers microwaveable snacks into a mega brand by targeting teenage and young adult males with fun products that meant they could go on gaming solo or with their mates, without having to take time out for proper meals.
These days, snacking has moved on. Those young gamers are now adults and have more money. And we’re all fit and healthy, or try to be. The iconic snacking brands of yore are still very big and have a widening appeal, but all kinds of added value, niche products are also emerging with new and exciting propositions, which retailers need to stock as part of their offering.