The pandemic dramatically impacted shopping behaviors, with stay-at-home orders and social distancing protocols pushing some consumers away from traditional brick-and-mortar shopping. As a result, e-commerce has seen significant growth, and online bar sales are no exception.

“Online has been a growth driver for bars; it’s continuing to be a double-digit growth driver whether you’re looking at dollar sales or unit sales,” said Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive vice president for client insights, IRI.

The growth in e-commerce has also led bar brands to employ new strategies to reach consumers.

“The online channel of distribution has impacted how brands approach new product development with considerations around ingredients and temperature tolerance, shelf life, integrity of product throughout the shipping process, and packaging,” said Bart Child, chief commercial officer, Nellson, Anaheim, Calif.

Eat Undressed Founder Anne Klassman, whose Undressed Bars are sold on Amazon and in addition to select Whole Foods markets, said bar companies need to pivot toward the e-commerce space if they haven’t and meet consumers where they are.

“I think consumers will continue to shop for necessities online in many cases,” Ms. Klassman said. “I think there’s been a shift, and consumers have realized the benefits and ease of shopping online.”

While online bar sales have risen, bar manufacturers and retailers need to find the right balance between online and in-store sales to maximize growth. Specifically, bar makers need to make sure online sales aren’t eating up in-person sales, or vice versa.

“A lot of what’s available online is exactly the same mix that’s offered in store,” Ms. Lyons Wyatt said. “We need to work as an industry to make sure that potentially you can serve some different occasions, whether you’re shopping online or in-store so that you get incremental sales, so that we’re driving incremental sales across the category, not cannibalizing one way of purchasing versus another.” 

This article is an excerpt from the February 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Snack Bars, click here.