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Frito-Lay snack report: curbside and eCommerce growing

Purchasing snacks online is on the rise, with younger and higher income North Americans more likely to try eCommerce, including choosing to buy online from retailers via "Click and Collect" and pick-up curbside.

May 27, 2020

Frito-Lay Logo courtesy of Frito-Lay North America

As summer and long weekends approach, the majority of North Americans – 86 per cent – feel their summers will be different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Frito-Lay issued the latest edition of its U.S. Snack Index, finding consumers increasingly buying through new channels and eating snacks differently than ever before. From minimal travel and socially distanced gatherings, to when, where and how consumers shop for snacks – consumer behaviour is likely to have a lasting impact on the months ahead.

Additional market trends and U.S. Snack Index highlights show:

Summer gatherings evolve, but snacks are still a welcome guest.

  • Recent IRI data shows more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of consumers expect to make changes to their long weekend plans in 2020 – including 82 per cent noting they’ll stay at home.
  • As such, people are adapting how they snack to fit their changing plans, with 86 per cent saying they will probably bring snacks to a small group gathering and more than one in three (34 per cent) expecting to do more virtual hangouts with friends over the next few months.

As people continue looking for some level of normalcy, many are turning to snacking.

  • The Frito-Lay Snack Index found 85 per cent of respondents say eating their favourite snack makes them feel normal.
  • While the overwhelming majority (83 per cent) said their favourite summer snacks remind them of good times and nearly half (48 per cent) said eating their favourite snack makes them feel happy.

Although there are many differences this year – favourite snacks are a mainstay and are seeing more demand.

  • IRI retail sales data also shows salty snacks have been the No. 1 food item that’s contributed to sales growth at retailers since early March when consumers were shifting purchasing priorities amid stay-at-home orders for various states.
  • Frito-Lay has seen the same demand in its own sales data, as in recent weeks consumers have increased purchasing snack items like Lay’s (up 32 per cent), Cheetos Popcorn (contributing to 65 per cent of the ready-to-eat popcorn category) and Tostitos (up 42 per cent).

Many are trying new snacks during the pandemic, with variety and convenience helping in how they make their snack choices.

  • Snack Index survey data also revealed many consumers are still trying new snacks (with 92 per cent saying they plan to continue to eat them once the pandemic is over) and about one-fifth of respondents are developing new rituals around food.
  • The most willing groups to try a new snack in the “new normal” skew younger Gen Z and millennials tend to be the most adventurous with nearly four in 10 (36 per cent) saying they are likely to try a new snack option.
  • When choosing snacks to enjoy during the summer, Americans consider several important factors. The top deciding factor is convenience (86 per cent), and staying true to favourites (83 per cent), with only 22 per cent of respondents taking budget into account.
  • And, when they find their favourite snacks, they are stocking up. Seventy-three (73) per cent of respondents said they are likely to buy more than usual in store.

Purchasing snacks online is on the rise, with younger and higher income North Americans more likely to try eCommerce, including choosing to buy online from retailers via “Click and Collect” and pick-up curbside.

  • IRI data shows snack sales through eCommerce sites are up 44 per cent since March 1.
  • While consumers say in-store shopping during this time has been stressful, they’re still heading to the store. More than one-third (37 per cent) of respondents feel stress shopping for groceries during the pandemic. However, U.S. Snack Index data showed consumers still largely prefer in-person shopping with most survey respondents (74 per cent) saying that’s where they look first for their favourite snacks. IRI data also confirms the in-person shopping preference for snacks as in-store sales of salty and savoury snacks each grew more than 15 per cent in the last eight weeks.

Snack availability, demand lead to new direct-to-consumer channels.

  • The global pandemic has further highlighted the need to directly serve consumers, who have had difficulty locating their favourite snacks in this challenging environment. In fact, less than half (47 per cent) say they can find all the snacks they want when shopping.
  • With this in mind, Frito-Lay recently launched, its first direct-to-consumer offering that allows consumers to purchase snack favourites and ship directly to their home.