Frito-Lay: Flavor combinations and discovery drive snacking purchases

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

Photo Credit: GettyImages / FilippoBacci
Photo Credit: GettyImages / FilippoBacci

Related tags: snacking, Frito Lay, Pepsico

Consumers have heightened interest in flavor twists and combinations (e.g. salty & sweet, tangy & spicy) and are less driven by brand recognition and familiarity when it comes to their snacking purchases, finds Frito-Lay North America in its recent Snacking Index report.

Frito-Lay's previous Snacking Index report revealed a drastic shift in consumer behavior as more than 80% of consumers surveyed said they were ready to go out and celebrate the Memorial Day Weekend compared to over 80% who surveyed they would be staying home in May 2020.

In the company's recent Snacking Index report for June 2022 which surveyed 2,400 US adults, the trend of activity and on-the-go behavior has continued to gain momentum into summer 2022 and has evolved into consumers looking for new and unexpected flavor profiles vs. traditional regional snacking flavors.

“During the summer, people explore new activities, new places and enjoy new flavors of snacks as they attend more outdoor gatherings,”​ said Mike Del Pozzo, chief customer officer, Frito-Lay North America, adding that flavor continues to drive most food purchasing behaviors. 

Flavor combinations drive snacking purchases

According to Frito-Lay's recent Snacking Index, 42% of consumers across all generations are choosing flavor combinations such as sweet and spicy or tangy and salty over more familiar regional flavors preferred by 21% of those surveyed. Salty and sweet snacking combination won out as the most preferred flavor combination with 42% of consumers surveyed.

As consumers shop for snacks, 35% stated that innovative flavors were the top influencing factor for making a purchase vs. 28% who are making purchasing decisions based on recommendations, brand recognition (21%), packaging (9%), or sustainability efforts (7%). 

Forty percent of consumers surveyed said that they would be excited and willing to try a snack with a flavor they love even if they've never tried the product or brand before, suggesting that discovery is an emerging key component to snacking purchases moving forward.

Just under half of respondents (44%) said trying new snack flavors led them to try more foods with those same flavors, while more than half (58%) of consumers aged 18-34 have eaten more foods featuring a flavor that they had initially experienced in a snack.

More summer snacking trends

Frito-Lay also found an overall shift towards more on-the-go snacking and social snacking behavior as more than 81% of those surveyed said they enjoyed the social aspect of snacking and 60% of consumers surveyed they were excited to snack at outdoor gatherings with family and friends again.

However, not every generation felt this way as the surveyed also revealed that 45% of Gen Z and Millennials respondents said they prefer to eat in solitude. 

Around one-fifth of younger generations (millennials and Gen Z) and parents are more likely to snack on the go than Gen X and Boomers.

Parents are fueling a lot of the on-the-go snacking behavior with more than 40% surveying that will buy and create individually packaged snacks for their families in advance before summer travel.

In general, parents snack more than most other demographics with more than half (52%) reporting replacing meals with snacks several times per week. 

Beyond flavor

While taste and flavor, specifically flavor combinations, are driving most snacking purchases currently, Frito-Lay observed a growing consumer interest in brand values and actions as well. 

Roughly two-thirds of consumers are more likely to purchase a product that invests in local communities and 74% are becoming more interested in factors like recycled packaging, compostable packaging, or products made with recycled water. 

This is especially true for younger generations with more than half of consumers aged 18-34 noting that they consider a brand's ethics and sustainability practices when purchasing a snack product.

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