What is in this article?:
- Consumers Share Key Thoughts on Snack Aisle
- Sidebar: Snack Attack
“A lot of people don’t have time to read labels."
— Ginger Jenkins, a participant in the study
NEW YORK — Merchandising categories by product type, rather than brand, would help consumers shop the snack aisle better, according to an SN consumer focus group.
Arranging snacks based on health attributes — such as reduced-fat or reduced-sodium — would help consumers find what they desire, according to the research, based on in-store interviews with seven primary household shoppers (four women, three men).
Shelf signs would also help, said participant Ginger Jenkins, 48.
“A lot of people don’t have time to read labels,” Jenkins said during the study, conducted last month in the snack aisle of a Long Island, N.Y., supermarket. The supermarket did not want to be named.
Consumers Centers, a research firm with offices in New York and New Jersey, chose Jenkins and the other shoppers from its database. They were paid for their participation.
Phil Lempert, contributing editor to Supermarket News, moderated.
The research focused on “variety” snacks, which include popcorn, nuts, rice cakes and meat snacks. ConAgra Foods — marketer of variety snacks and other products — funded the research.
Participants said they like to eat popcorn for health reasons. While most said they know popcorn is healthier than salty snacks, they didn’t know why.
Lempert explained that popcorn is a whole grain, which is a good source of fiber and other nutrients.
In response, participants said such health attributes should be more clearly marked on the front of packaging or on aisle signs.
Arranging the snack aisle by product type rather than brand will also help them shop the aisle, participants said.
This would be especially helpful in the nut section. This category is attractive to shoppers for health reasons, participants said.
Nuts — specifically almonds — are typically viewed as a healthier snack, said Lynn Rice, a 37-year-old mother of two.
Rice said she eats a handful of almonds a day because she’s heard they’re healthy, though she didn’t know why. (Almonds are low in saturated fat and contain other nutrients that can help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer.)
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Alex Aronowitz, 33, said he eats almonds frequently to get a burst of energy during the workday. He also enjoys the sunflower seeds as a midday treat.
Several participants agreed that sunflower seeds have become a staple in their homes, and also on the job.
Melissa Risolo, 38, keeps almonds in her desk drawer at work. She eats some when she feels sluggish and wants a healthy snack.
“It provides a pick-me-up that’s better than chips,” she said.
New flavor trends have made the nut category more appealing too, several participants said. They pointed to items like wasabi and soy almonds; ranch-flavored sunflower seeds; and sea salt and pepper cashews.