Originally there was one database of crisp and snack products within Fast Foodfax, dominated by standard crisps and kids potato/maize-based snacks.
In 1994 the sector was split into two categories - adult snacking and family consumption.
The adult product database was built around new entrants such as Kettle-style hand-cooked chips that had carved out a niche market for special occasions, but it has now become the sector where most innovation is being focused.
The entry of Walkers Sensations in 2002 transformed the category and consumer perceptions of crisps.
A carefully targeted offer of a more premium presentation, a lighter crisp texture and stronger, more adult tastes immediately widened consumer appeal. It also heralded the coming of the larger ‘share’ bags.
In the past three years, adult savoury snacks has been one of the most active sectors of product innovation: 36 new product entries have been screened and the average rating for new products has risen from 30 to 36.
The highest rating has been matched or exceeded five times in the past six months alone, stimulated by the launch of McCoy’s Specials, Nobby’s Crisps and new flavours of Sensations, culminating in a four-pack of Sensations being given a maximum rating of 50 in April.
The high-profile launch of Snack-a-Jacks established rice and other grains as an alternative low-fat base for savoury snacks.
Most of these products achieved good ratings over the past 18 months, with Jacob’s Thai Bites and crispbread-based snacks from Quaker and Ryvita all awarded above-average scores.
In the family market, Walkers Potato Heads range proved a hit, achieving a maximum possible rating of 50, a first for a low-fat product.
Targeted at younger men, Nobby’s crisps had much wider family appeal. The only aspect that many women didn’t like was the pack design, but more than 90% still expected to notice it in-store. All loved the ridges, thick crispy texture and strong flavours.
A natural flavour extension for the Sensations range with strong mainstream appeal. Sufficiently distinctive but not too different, the new combination proved particularly popular with the young.
If these were designed to rival Sensations, they have, briefly setting a new high score. A strong entry worthy of its Specials status, it had particular appeal for younger consumers, aged 18-34.
A classy pack that attracted adult testers. The golden crisps, although fresh and strongly flavoured, disappointed some with their size, but a top quartile rating nevertheless.
An alternative rice and potato-based adult snack that polarised responses, but had strong appeal for pre-family testers. A low-fat benefit and the Thai taste added to the appeal.
70% less fat and no additives, these healthy crisps were a hit with parents and kids alike, achieving the maximum rating.
Low-fat snack innovations achieving high scores in taste tests
Put to the test: six recent launches (maximum score 50)Nobby’s Crisps - The Six-Pack Score: 44 Category average: 36
Walkers Sensations - Roasted Onion & Balsamic Vinegar Score: 43 Category average: 36
McCoy’s Specials - Oriental Ribs Score: 44 Category average: 35
Golden Skins - Pepperoni and Cheese Score: 40 Category average: 36
Jacob’s Thai Bites Fusions - Thai Red Curry & Coriander Score: 36 Category average: 36
Walkers Potato Heads - six-Pack Score: 50 Category average: 36
Produced for The Grocer by Cambridge Fast Foodfax, an independent standardised new product testing service where a sample of 50 consumers rate new products across 10 key performance measures. Maximum score 50. Details on www.fast-foodfax.com