COVID-19 to change the future of snacking in APAC, says GlobalData

Product choices prior to COVID-19 were often shaped by the demand of ‘on-the-go’ lifestyles, which is no longer applicable as consumers are in lockdown. With self-isolation changing the dynamics of snacks for the consumers, brands are on the constant look-out for new ways to meet the personalized health consumer demands, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

According to GlobalData Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tracker, Week 6(28 April-3 May), about 36% of Chinese consumers and 25% of Indian consumers are influenced by how their safety and well-being is impacted by the product and services. The survey also reveals that 32% Chinese and 24% Indian consumers are buying savoury snacks more than before.

Shagun Sachdeva, Consumer insight analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, highlights the healthy snackification trends that are going to shape up in Asia-Pacific (APAC) amid COVID-19 pandemic.

Reprioritization of Consumer Basket

While the idea of snacking still revolves around killing boredom or to find solace, the idea of ‘what to snack on’ has changed. Health still remains the leading priority for consumers and the concern has just heightened during the pandemic. With social distancing, work-from-home and reduced opportunities for ‘on-the-go’ consumption and exercise, health-positioned snacking products are an obvious choice to meet consumers’ health needs.

With these unique conditions spurring concerns over nutrition and over-existing lifestyle-related diseases like obesity and diabetes, plant-forward and nutrient-dense snacks that offer supplemented vitamins will remain much in demand. Brands are taking note of the changing consumer needs and replacing artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners and other preservatives with natural, plant-based and clean label items to realign their portfolio.

For instance, in China, KFC has launched plant-based fried chicken made by Cargill in selected chains. Starbucks also debuted a new plant-based menu featuring Beyond Meat and Oatly.

Focus on Value

As consumers are trying to restrict contact with others as much as possible and embracing home-life and new activities, life under quarantine has created new scenarios for brands to offer value to their customers. Due to the uncertain economic environment and supply chain disruption due to COVID-19, many consumers initially bought food out of panic. Consumers have essentially moved from a ‘just-in-time’, ‘on-the-go’ model to a ‘just-in-case’ stockpiling model. This means that value, rather than premiumization, is the current key priority for consumers. Special offers, gift cards, or loyalty programs by brands are a straightforward way to court this consumer desire.

New Channel Choices

COVID-19 and the resulting quarantine pushed some brands to diversify their audience channels and learn to sell directly to their consumers online. This shifting focus birthed by lockdowns in various APAC countries will continue, further encouraging brands to look at the realignment of sales channels. Manufacturers are focussing on online marketing, targeting, deals, and delivery. They are well aware that e-commerce should be the number-one priority for securing regular payments and deliveries on proprietary websites and third-party platforms makes it easier for the isolated customers to buy more and conveniently. Along with e-commerce, brands are also considering subscription-based models to maintain steady sales during the pandemic.

What’s Next?

So far, we have reasons to be cautiously optimistic about the sector. When the crisis wraps, we can expect to see a new generation of consumers, ecosystems, new rules, products and experiences.

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