Limited-time offers and mashups keep consumers excited about brands, which is important for them to stay relevant to current consumers and attract new ones.

“It’s very obvious that the fleeting aspect of it is the thing consumers gravitate toward,” said Melissa Abbott, vice president of retainer services for The Hartman Group. “For legacy manufacturers or even mid-sized manufacturers to keep up with what private label is doing is really difficult. That reliance on the limited-time offer is something we’re going to continue to see with more frequency.”

She said that consumers want to be more connected to the natural world, and limited-time offers are a way for people to connect with the environment around them.

“We want to be able to connect on a seasonal basis with citrus in the winter and asparagus flavors and spring onion in crackers in the springtime,” Ms. Abbott said. 

Frito-Lay is a leader in trying new flavor combinations and mixing up flavors and formats.

“We use consumer preference data to develop regional and limited-edition flavor offerings, tapping into our database of 1,000-plus flavor variations,” a Frito-Lay spokesperson said. “These insights and extended research help inform when to innovate new snacks, experiment with new flavor profiles and test new and unique flavor combinations. For example, Smartfood Krispy Kreme stemmed from an enlisted panel of Gen Z consumers to help us brainstorm unexpected and playful mashups, which ultimately inspired the Krispy Kreme fusion.”

Other recent mashups from Frito-Lay include Smartfood Doritos Nacho Cheese, which combines the Doritos Nacho Cheese Flavor with Smartfood popcorn, and the limited-time offer of Doritos 3D Crunch Three Cheese, which is tied to the release of the fourth season of Netflix’s “Stranger Things.”

The snack maker also recently expanded its Flamin’ Hot mashup portfolio to include Ruffles Flamin’ Hot Cheddar and Sour Cream Flavored Potato Chips, Doritos Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch, Flamin’ Hot Nacho and Flamin’ Hot Limon. 

Mashups and LTOs are important to Frito-Lay because the company strives to constantly evolve to meet consumers’ needs.

“That begins with identifying new ways to meet consumers where they are with the snacks that bring them joy,” a spokesperson said. “It also means having a finger on the pulse of what tastes currently reign supreme to create snacks that meet the needs of all our consumers.” 

As Americans embrace snacking in all its many wonderful forms and flavors, there are clearly plenty of places snack makers can go to entice them. But they may need to get a little creative to spur a sense of excitement. 

Ms. Abbott suggested that brands understand what they mean to their consumers and engage accordingly.

“Really get a good sense of who you are and what you mean to the consumer,” she said. “Not what you want to convey to the consumer, but really understanding what you mean to the consumer and understanding who your consumer is and who your customer could be. Because a lot of times you get those blinders on when it comes to our brands and our portfolios, and we need to open them up and see how consumers are eating today and how they’re engaging with the world around them.” 

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