Well-known brands win over US consumers with unique and nostalgic flavours7 Aug 2023
Consumers in the US are increasingly being drawn to unique and nostalgic flavours, introduced by leading national brands like Oreo and Jell-O, says Mintel.
According to Mintel, US consumers are increasingly opting for unique products that merge the familiar with the new, at an affordable price point. Although the food industry may not consider these products as particularly novel or unique, consumers are increasingly excited by new flavours and formats offered by their favourite, trusted brands.
A recent survey conducted by Mintel shows a strong correlation between purchase intent and uniqueness rating, across a range of snack-based products.
Taste and uniqueness trump price
For most consumers globally, taste is key when making food purchasing decisions. Data from Mintel and Kantar shows that 60% of gen Z and millennials, 76% of gen X, and over 85% of baby boomers and swing generation consider taste as the most important characteristic of food and drink products.
For the youngest cohort, gen Z (54%) and millennials (50%) affordability is equally as important as taste. Despite price being a key driver of purchase intent, when uniqueness is on offer, private label products prove the most popular with consumers, particularly amongst the younger generations, the research found.
“We know that millennials go out of their way to try new products,” said Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel, speaking at IFT First in Chicago in July.
Known brands succeed with new flavours
New and unique flavours that excite and entice consumers, positioned within the confines of well-known and trusted brands, are allowing brands to stay relevant and retain customers time and time again.
One example of this is multinational manufacturer Modelez’s the Most Oreo Oreo Ever – a take on the classic cookie featuring extra cookies-n-crème flavour filling containing miniature Oreo pieces. Scoring almost double the average purchase intent (79%) and uniqueness rating (81%) of all products introduced since the start of 2022, consumers view this snack as an innovative and exciting expansion of a product line they already know and love.
“New flavours drive engagement in the category, so this is a very sound strategy,” said Melanie Bartelme, associate director at Mintel Food and Drink.
Other Oreo products with high purchase intent include Oreo pancakes - a revamped version of a popular breakfast food containing Oreo pieces – and an Oreo cookie kit which introduces a do-it-yourself (DIY) element to the traditional cookie product.
Tapping into consumer nostalgia
Brands that challenge consumer expectations of flavour are not the only ones experiencing success amongst modern US consumers. Shoppers are also seeking classic brands and products that offer new and exciting formats.
“There is lots of power in updating old brands by making them current and introducing a nostalgia element,” said Dornblaser.
Recently launched, Jell-O Pudding Cup chocolates from Canadian confectionery manufacturer Morris National also scored high on purchase intent (62%) and uniqueness (79%), as compared to the average across all 2022 product launches, standing at 39% and 48% respectively.
According to Mintel, over one in seven US consumers say they enjoy things that remind them of their past, along with over a third (38%) who like flavours and almost a half (45%) who like desserts that remind them of their childhood.
Transforming a classic brand name that consumers know by experimenting with a new product format that diverges from expectations, this Jell-O product successfully taps into a sense of nostalgia, Bartelme said. The new product format also allows the brand to enter a previously unbreached category within the supermarket, increasing brand visibility and awareness.
“There are many people across generations that have associations with Jell-O. There is lots of strength and nostalgia that can be conveyed into the new product format,” Bartelme said.
US multinational food producer General Mills is another company attempting to tap into a sense of nostalgia through its recent launch of Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust frosting. The product, a cinnamon-flavoured frosting that can be added to cakes, cookies, and desserts, is an extension of the brand’s popular cereal and shares a familiar and identifiable flavour profile with the original. Scoring highly on purchase intent and uniqueness rating, the product represents how the brand has moved successfully between categories and applications via the familiar ‘cinnadust’ flavour and format.
“This is an example of how [General Mills] have taken the branding and expanded and experimented in new ways,” Dornblaser said.
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