In response to consumer demand for more food mash-ups, Cheez-It reinvented its classic product with two snacks in one box.

Consumers always are searching and never settling. Yesterday’s large indulgences are played out today. What was nutritional one week might be boring the next. Shoppers see the same items on store shelves every trip. Although their eyes are drawn to familiar brands and products, their hands need motivation — perhaps the promise of a new experience — to actually pick them up.

Baking and snack companies need to get creative. More importantly, they must think ahead to stay ahead of evolving consumer preferences. But giving consumers a new experience is not always about creating a whole new product; sometimes it’s all about reinvention.

Forty-four per cent of U.S. snackers said their favorite brand is one of the most important aspects when picking a snack, according to the 2017 Mintel study, “Snacking Motivations & Attitudes.” This means that when many consumers are looking for a new experience, they seek it out among the familiar, or a trusted brand or product.
Mondelez modified Oreos by making the product less calorie dense.

“You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel,” said Lynn Dornblaser, director, innovation and insight, Mintel, at SNAC International’s Executive Leadership Forum (ELF), held in September. “When identifying snacking opportunities, look to your current portfolio for items that can be modified to be more on trend.”

In 2015, Mondelez International, East Hanover, N.J., looked to its classic Oreo cookie for a product modification. The company reformatted the cookie into Oreo Thins, an option that includes fewer crumbs and calories than its original counterpart. The creation of this thin cookie followed what Ms. Dornblaser coined the “Minimize Me” trend. Then, in 2017, the company transformed its classic Teddy Grahams with the Teddy Soft Bakes variety, a soft-baked, filled snack version, to make its product even more appealing for children.

Twinkies, the signature brand from Hostess Brands, Kansas City, has been around since 1930. But in 2016 the company reinvented the icon with Deep Fried Twinkies. Dipped in funnel cake batter and fried, this indulgence, which originally could only be found at state fairs, was launched as Hostess’ first product in supermarket frozen food aisles.

Product reinvention isn’t new, but as more and more traditional baked foods and snacks become too staid for consumers, it might be time for a modification that keeps people engaged and excited to stick with a brand.