According to One Click Retail, Amazon executed well over 300 promotions on school snacks during the last week of August to the beginning of September 2018, resulting in sales surges across snack categories including snack nuts, salty snacks, cookies, and dried meat snacks.
“The overall growth across the whole category is pretty significant. We are seeing a lot more consumers who are going to Amazon for snack products,” Ojastro Todd, marketing analyst at One Click Retail, told FoodNavigator-USA.
“With promotions and trends behind them, it appears likely that healthy, tasty, convenient and economical snacks will remain leaders in the school snacks category for the foreseeable future.”
Top performing snacks
While taste remains the #1 priority in snack selection, it is followed by foods with identifiable ingredients, and those that conform to ethical principles students find important, such as sustainability and Fairtrade.
According to One Click Retail research, kids are exhibiting healthier snacking preferences compared to previous generations with older students packing nutritional snack options for themselves.
Among the best performing sub-categories of school snacks were nutritional bars – the largest share of the school snacks category – which grew 20% year-over-year to more than $105m in sales for H1 2018.
Snack nuts came in as the fastest-growing area of the school snacks category with bulk almonds and Planters Deluxe Mixed Nuts as top sellers.
The versatility of the Planter’s mixed nuts combined with its low price has resulted in nearly quadrupled sales in H1 2018 versus H1 2017, One Click Retail said.
The leading school snacks brand was Quest Nutrition, which had three products appear among the top ten sellers of H1 2018 including Quest’s Protein Cookies, Protein Bars, and Protein Chips.
“They include more natural ingredients than those found in traditional snacks and still taste great. Quest’s products are also sugar, soy and gluten-free, aligning with some of the current diet trends, and are individually wrapped for busy families on the go. Finally their availability in multi-pack formats provides additional savings,” Todd added.
Popcorn made with whole grains and fruit snacks was among the top trending school snacks, with Smartfood Popcorn beating out potato chips in back-to-school Amazon snack sales.
“Snack food producers would do well to concentrate on snacks made from natural ingredients, which follow current dietary trends (be it high protein, gluten-free, high fiber, keto) and reflect the latest food science,” Todd added.
“For the foreseeable future, these healthy snack foods should be offered in a variety of flavors, individually portioned and sold at a competitive price point.”
Indulgence still matters in school snacks
Even with a strong trend towards better-for-you school snacks, some traditional brands such as Frito-Lay’s Cheetos, Doritos, and Lay’s potato chips registered 20% year-over-year sales growth compared to the same period last year.
Consistently leading the category is Pepperidge Farm's Goldfish Crackers, taking the #1 spot for Amazon’s top selling snack items for H1 2018.
Pepperidge Farm has had the most success on Amazon with its single-serving package sizes, which offer convenience and variety while also being very affordable, according to One Click Retail.
Advice to snack manufacturers selling online
“One thing I would emphasize to snack manufacturers is to know what your major selling points are and to emphasize them on your product pages,” Todd said.
Including multiple high-resolution product images on a product listing page is one of the most effective way to encourage a purchase.
According to Todd, the vast majority of online shoppers who ended up purchasing a food item looked at all of the brand’s images included on the page, paying particular attention to the nutrition facts information.
“When we’re talking about snacks, having a snapshot of your nutrition facts panel is always important,” he said.
“If you think about the consumer in the store, they’re going to look at that nutrition facts area. They’re not going to search around your page to find that, they need it in the images at the top of the page.”
Do you have an opinion on kids snacks options? Don't miss our panel debate on the topic at the FOOD FOR KIDS summit taking place Nov. 12-15 in downtown Chicago.