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Snacking shapes grocery aisles

Sep 25, 2023
Illustration of a box of popcorn with hundred dollar bills as the sides that is overflowing with popcorn.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As snack brands become a more significant part of shopping lists, grocers are rethinking how to best serve consumers.

Why it matters: The snacking category has grown faster than the total food and beverage market in the U.S., per NielsenIQ.

  • Meanwhile, increased prices at the grocery aisles have caused consumer behaviors to shift with many consumers valuing price over brand.

What they're saying: "Brand loyalty is weakening," says Lorelei Bergin, NielsenIQ's vice president of North American retail, at a Groceryshop session last week.

  • Private label's share of the total market was 13.5% and among the mass, value and club retailers, that share was 16.7%, per NielsenIQ.
  • Around 40% of consumers say that store-branded products are a good alternative to branded items, while 35% believe private labels are higher or equal in quality to name brands.
  • As a result, retailers must develop good robust segmentation and personalization to compete, Bergin says.

Zoom in: Value retailers, such as mass, dollar and club retailers, are dominating the snack market.

  • "They've been able to create more assortment on the shelves to make sure that the consumers continue to keep shopping in that space," Bergin says.
  • Multipacks, for instance, have become more popular than single sizes.
  • "Because we are a nation of convenience, now we create variety, we create savings, no inconvenience," Bergin says.

The intrigue: Snackers are also finding a home online, with 44% of buyers purchasing online.

  • That's causing online snack sales to outpace in-store sales, per NielsenIQ's data.
  • Consumers see online channels as a way to experiment and discover beyond what's available in stores.

State of play: As private label food sales grow, private equity and strategics alike are hungry for tasty snacking deals.

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