Just desserts: Sales of sweet snacks are soaring
It's not just Netflix. Add sweets to the stay-at-home binge list.
Sugary snack-food purchases increased 8% in 2020, according to data from research company Numerator's Sweet Treat Tracker. And as with so many other retail categories, much of the buying took place online, Numerator says.
Baking chips and mixes was the best performing category, up 24% in 2020. The trend continued into 2021. Year-to-date 2021 sales saw 23% growth versus the same period in 2020.
Purchases of ice cream (up 20%) and packaged cookies (up 11%) were the instant gratification leaders.
So Delicious Dairy Free, for example, enjoyed more than 20% growth in 2020, according to IRI data on multi-outlet sales provided by the company. The marketer of plant-based, dairy-free frozen desserts and novelties credits a pandemic-spurred interest in wellbeing for the successful year, says Jessica Holland, senior brand manager.
And so, So Delicious Dairy Free recently began selling directly to consumers on its website's Online Scoop Shop, giving brand fans the ability to have items delivered directly to their homes.
Online sweet-snack buying got the biggest slice among retail channels, more than doubling with 104% growth. Online's share increase came at the expense of gas and convenience stores, and drug stores, both of which saw sales trimmed.
Year-to-date 2021 online sweet-treat sales grew 119% versus the same period in 2020, obliterating any hope that traditional New Year's resolutions—perhaps to snack less—lasted beyond January 1.
Overall, sweet treats sales in all channels are up 6% year-to-date.
Meanwhile, measured media ad spending for treats dropped 16.2%, to $1.2 billion in 2020, according to Ad Age Datacenter analysis of data from Kantar.
One bright spot was cookies, for which ad spending increased 45.1%, to $116 million.
Mondelēz International’s Oreo, the world’s top-selling cookie, was also the most-advertised cookie brand, with nearly $49 million in 2020 media spending. But brands from Ferrero, including Keebler, showed the highest ad spending growth. Ferrero's spending backed brands from the company's recent acquisition of cookie brands from Kellogg. In the cookie category alone, Ferrero increased spending more than seven fold, to about $27 million.
Consumers use snacks as a moment of comfort and indulgence, says a Mondelēz spokesperson. "Snacks are also tied to nostalgia, often evoking a childhood memory."
"We’ve also seen a rise in at-home baking and many of our snack products can be used as ingredients in recipes," the spokesperson says.