Frito-Lay, based in Plano, Texas, has released the latest edition of its U.S. Snack Index survey, revealing how shopping, cooking and snacking trends have changed this year, and what’s expected to have a lasting impact in 2021 and beyond.
As the holidays approach, consumers are expecting their celebrations to look different compared to last year, with half planning to shop for their holiday groceries through an online retailer, up from just 15 percent in 2019, and the majority of consumers – 63 percent – planning to use cooking at home as a way to stay entertained in the coming months.
“Consumers have shifted their behavior with 58 percent snacking more since COVID-19 and shopping through new channels with online adoption up 40 percent,” said Mike Del Pozzo, SVP of sales and chief customer officer for Frito-Lay North America. “This holiday season we expect to see more small gatherings and a move away from potlucks, which means more families purchasing the whole meal. In fact, 13 percent expect to spend more on groceries for Thanksgiving this year, so the importance of offering variety and accessibility of America’s favorite snacks is a priority for Frito-Lay this holiday season.”
Trends and highlights
More than a 300 percent increase in Americans who plan to shop for holiday foods through an online retailer versus last year:
- Maintaining health and safety is a top concern for grocery shopping this holiday season, driving more consumers to adopt online grocery shopping.
- In fact, 50 percent of Americans plan to shop for their holiday groceries through an online retailer, up from just 15 percent in 2019;
- Snacks are the most likely category to be purchased online for the holidays, with 77 percent of consumers saying they are likely to do so; and
While holidays will look different, food will continue to play a major role:
- Most Americans (83 percent) plan to spend the same or more on groceries during the holidays;
- Americans are shopping earlier for holiday groceries. One in five plans to shop over three days earlier than last year to avoid crowds or out-of-stocks;
- Holiday gatherings will be much smaller this year: the median number of people at the main Thanksgiving meal is expected to be five this year, down from eight last year; and
- When it comes to what’s on the holiday spreads, Chicagoans ranked sweet snacks first at 61 percent, San Franciscans preferred chips and dips (58 percent) and over half of Miamians (54 percent) are planning to serve cheese and meat platters.
Consumers are stocking up on snacks more than ever before:
- Sixty-six percent of survey respondents say they keep more snacks stocked at home than before the pandemic;
- This winter, 54 percent of shoppers are planning to stock up on essentials, with salty snacks the number five category consumers are looking to stockpile;
- Sixty-six percent of consumers are concerned about products being out of stock and 58 percent want to reduce exposure to the virus;
- One main reason why consumers are putting more snacks in their pantries is to add a little more fun to the days at home. Sixty-three percent of survey respondents said they snack as a way to break up their day and 76 percent said eating snacks is a way to treat themselves;
- Dips have become an increasingly popular snack. Frito-Lay reports a 16 percent increase in the purchase of dips year over year, with consumers citing convenience/not needing to make it from scratch as the primary reason for purchase; and
Consumers are grocery shopping more during the week and online:
- While Saturday and Sunday used to be the traditional shopping days, consumers are now shopping throughout the week as schedules are different, with Wednesday and Thursday seeing an increase in store traffic; and
- E-commerce grocery also remains high and is expected to stick. The average online basket is up 32 percent YOY and 75 percent of consumers intent to repeat with most recent online grocery provider in the next 30 days.
Cooking returns as most preferred form of entertainment amid a resurgence of COVID – and snack foods are increasingly an ingredient in recipes:
- Americans are not experiencing as much cooking fatigue as might be expected, only 40 percent indicated they are tired of cooking at home;
- Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents plan to use cooking to stay entertained, making it the most popular activity respondents said they’d partake in, amid a resurgence of COVID;
- And Americans are looking for new ways to spice up with recipes, with 83 percent of respondents saying they have used or would try a snack food as an ingredient in a recipe, with potato chips (31 percent) and tortilla chips (32 percent) the most popular snack food ingredient; and
- 63 percent agreed they need more recipe inspiration, so as a result PepsiCo recently launched MoreSmilesWithEveryBite.com, an online hub of family-friendly recipes featuring popular Frito-Lay snacks and Quaker foods.
Classic flavors are dominant as winter months set in:
- Americans are turning back to traditional comfort foods this season versus trendy seasonal flavors. For example, 50 percent of respondents say they are excited for classic comfort foods, and only 32 percent said they were excited for Pumpkin Spice; and
- These preferences also vary regionally, with 54 percent of Chicagoans most looking forward to chili, 40 percent of Dallas residents excited about chicken tortilla soup and 43 percent of New Yorkers leaning toward apple cinnamon flavors.
“These consumer and marketplace changes have enabled us to reevaluate how we ensure our products are always and everywhere,” added Del Pozzo. “Frito-Lay sets itself apart by owning every piece of the seed-to-shelf process, enabling agility to continuously innovate and meet consumer needs.”
This poll was conducted by Morning Consult between October 16-18 among a national sample of 2,200 adults nationally, 500 adults in Chicago, Dallas, New York City and Miami, as well as 400 adults in San Francisco. The interviews were conducted online, and the national data were weighted to approximate a target sample of Adults based on age, educational attainment, gender, race, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.