The Scoop: Trends in Chips, Dip  11/4/2015

If you find it hard to stop at just one potato chip, you’re not alone—by 2019, the chip, salsa, and dips category in the US is forecast to exceed $17 billion. As Americans increasingly turn to snack foods to satisfy their cravings for crunch, they also want healthier, less processed options. How can chip and dip brands balance consumer desire for big flavor with their quest for natural, whole foods (especially the Millennial generation)? “Consumers report buying chips and dips to satisfy cravings, not to further their health goals. So claims that focus on low-fat, low-calorie, or low-salt aren’t likely to resonate with consumers,” explains Andrea Van Dam, CEO of Women’s Marketing. “Instead, brands may have a better opportunity to grow sales with messages that convey their product’s innovative flavor profile, convenience, and natural ingredients,” she advises.

Women’s Marketing looked at three trends in the chips and dips category.

Trend: Bold Flavor
Consumers are becoming bolder and more willing to experiment with new flavor profiles. In fact, Mintel reports that 34% of respondents who buy chips or dips buy new flavors. Given that interest in ethnic and international flavors is increasing as consumer palates continue to expand, brands offering surprising or exotic combinations, like Doritos Jacked flavors (Caribbean Citrus Jerk and Chocolate Chipotle Bacon) will meet this demand. Lay’s Do Us A Flavor contest directly engaged consumers by asking them to vote on the best user-created flavors being tested on the market. Dips are also getting a healthy makeover; new vegetable-based hummus flavors like Zesty Sriracha Carrot and beet hummus are appealing to both health conscious consumers and those with adventurous tastes.

Trend: Life Hacking
Research shows that Millennials are more likely than other generations to buy chips, salsa and dips. As this generation prizes convenience, products that utilize technology in their packaging may persuade them to purchase more of these products. To appeal to their core consumer, Doritos introduced a limited-edition Gamer Pack—a closable tabletop box with a wide opening suitable for snacking while playing video games, sold only at Walmart. Other less extreme examples include an easy open re-sealable bag with a zip lock top or a fold-over adhesive strip.

Trend: A Different Chip
We know that consumers are willing to experiment with flavor, but they’re also open to brand extensions that use healthier alternatives to corn and potato as a chip base. In fact, Beanitos all-natural bean chips are experiencing faster growth in the natural corn and tortilla chip category than any other brands. Snacks made with ingredients such as quinoa, lentils, kale and other vegetables also appeal to consumers seeking healthier alternatives. Smaller brands can be really impactful here. LesserEvil , a snack brand specializing in innovatively flavored organic popcorn and chips crafted from beans and other healthy grains, is engaging consumers with good-for-you options.

As manufacturers strive to stand out in this crowded category, understanding what drives consumers to choose one snack rather than another is vital to stay competitive in the snack food industry. In the snack segment , smaller and emerging brands need to “pop” to capture the attention of consumers. Want to get the scoop on what appeals to women? Contact Women’s Marketing and tap into our experience in reaching female consumers when, and where, they’re most receptive to your message.

Source: Mintel Issues and Insights US January 2015, Chips, Salsa and Dips

Connect with buyers and sellers of snacks at ECRM's events:

Ann D'Adamo

Senior Marketing Manager
Women's Marketing

Women's Marketing is a leading media strategy, planning and buying company for emerging and established brands. It offers a range of Fortune 500-level services, including access to insights, analytics, and deep media relationships, to help clients grow and succeed. (

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