In a world where health and wellbeing have become a major focus in the food and drink industry, how do treat brands innovate to meet modern consumers’ palates, asks Mintel.
The desire for intense, sweet and indulgent flavours will continue to bring pleasure to those looking for moments of pleasure and escapism. Brands will continue to innovate around sweetness, offering new sensations and opportunities to boost one’s mood.
Core flavours still lead
Core sweet flavours will remain bestsellers. Therefore, indulgent brands should not ignore them when innovating. Instead, the flavour favourites should remain the ‘core’ but be blended with more nuanced flavours or experimental textures so there is familiarity rather than something brand new.
It’s not about innovation, it’s about taste
Sweet indulgent treat categories see regular innovation, but they also attract consumers who desire the comfort of a familiar routine. In fact, Mintel has said three in four UK biscuit consumers that say the taste of a perfect biscuit is the main choice factor, but just one in 10 state they look for new innovations.
Biscuit consumers will be unwilling to shift away from their favourite variety, especially in the current financial climate in which many have less room for money mistakes and are seeking comfort in the brands and products they already know. Instead, major brands in the sweet treat space often innovate around core flavours, with slight tweaks or inclusions. A recent strategy from major brands has been to strengthen the core flavour and market its intensity.
Market flavour intensity
Many brands have sought to just develop core flavours rather than something brand new. Another strategy is to intensify favourites.
A new route to creating sweetness
New technologies and natural sweetening ingredients are coming to the market and helping to improve the health perceptions of indulgent categories. Taste is still of paramount concern – can new sweeteners really replicate the taste of sugar?
Be careful with sugar reduction
Concern about sugar from health departments and consumers alike has encouraged producers to focus on sugar reduction. Reducing sugar is challenging because of the role sugar plays in delivering desirable and familiar tastes, flavours and other sensory attributes, Mintel said.
Consumers are more likely to accept less sweet tastes in healthy categories rather than treat categories, eg ice cream. Many treat brands have strong brand loyalty and reducing sugar in these heritage brands carries great risk. Consumers often dislike the taste of their favourite treats being meddled with.
For heritage brands, producers should consider launching reduced sugar variants, rather than making changes to products that consumers have known and loved for decades. Alternatively, producers can consider portion control rather than recipe reformulation as a tactic to helping consumers to reduce their sugar intake.
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Editor, International Confectionery
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