LEHI, Utah — Pattern Data Science, an e-commerce acceleration platform, studied consumer e-commerce behavior toward snacks and candy throughout the year. The study measured demand with an algorithm for estimating the number of searches for snacks on Amazon during a given period.
The results of the study revealed the transformation of consumer preferences over time, most-demanded snacks and candies and the highs and lows of seasonal demand.
Click through to find out consumer preferences while online shopping and how e-commerce has continued to steal a share of snack sales …
Changing Consumer Preferences
Overall, snack and candy demand from consumers has increased over the past year, according to Pattern. Nonchocolate candy had the largest increase, 19.5%, from second-quarter 2021 to second-quarter 2022. Next were popcorn and chocolate with increases of 16.2% and 15.7%, respectively. Then came healthy snacks, chips, baked goods and meat snacks.
Change in Chocolate Demand
In the chocolate category specifically, Hershey Kisses (Hershey, Hershey, Pa.), saw the most growth in demand since 2021. Demand for the Hershey brand has increased on Amazon since third-quarter 2019. However, demand for Kit Kat (Hershey), Snickers (Mars, McLean, Va.), and Butterfinger (Ferrero, Chicago) has decreased.
Change in Nonchocolate Demand
In nonchocolate candy, while Starbursts (Mars) was the most online-shopped candy, it decreased in demand the most since 2021. Skittles (Wrigley, Chicago) was the nonchocolate candy with the largest rise in demand during this time. Next was Hot Tamales (Just Born, Bethlehem, Pa.), then Sour Patch Kids (Mondelez, Chicago), Dots (Tootsie Roll Industries, Chicago), Nerds (Ferraro) and Tootsie Pops (Tootsie Roll Industries, Chicago).
Change in Chip Demand
The demand for chips has decreased overall since the start of the pandemic. In third-quarter 2021, chip demand saw a small spike, and there was a larger spike in first-quarter 2022. In second-quarter 2022, however, chip demand heavily decreased. The chips in the most demand in 2022 were Fritos (Frito-Lay, Plano, Texas) and Pringles (Kellogg, Battle Creek, Mich.). Following Fritos and Pringles were Popcomers (PepsiCo, Purchase, N.Y.), Lays (Frito-Lay), Cheetos (PepsiCo), Ruffles (Frito-Lay) and Doritos (Frito-Lay), according to the data.
“Perhaps the variety of flavors and ease of delivery of a can of Pringles has made them attractive to Amazon shoppers,” said Pattern.
Chocolate Brands in High Demand
Hershey Kisses had the highest demand in 2022, with 157,431 e-shoppers. M&Ms (Mars), comes next with 144,561 Amazon shoppers tracked by the study.
Not only are Hershey Kisses and M&Ms the chocolate candies with the most online shoppers in 2022, but they have both also grown since 2021 by more than 20,000 shoppers.
Other chocolate brands that were tracked by the survey, in order of demand, include Kit Kat (Hershey), Snickers (Mars), Twix (Mars), Butterfinger (Ferrero) and Almond Joy (Hershey).
Nonchocolate Brands in High Demand
Sour Patch Kids (Mondelez) ranks as the no. 1 nonchocolate candy in demand. It had 222,795 Amazon shoppers in 2022—more than 65,000 shoppers than Hershey Kisses, the top chocolate brand in the study. Close behind Sour Patch Kids was Skittles, which had 209,646 Amazon shoppers in 2022. Each of these brands had e-commerce growth on Amazon since 2021.
Other top brands include Nerds, Tootsie Pops, Starbursts and Hot Tamales.
Chip Brands in High Demand
The top-shopped chip on Amazon was Doritos, but with 186,885 shoppers in 2022, it was in less demand than both nonchocolate and chocolate brands. Doritos, in fact, lost traction since 2021, according to Pattern.
Other brands that performed well within the chip category included Pringles, Cheetos, Popcomers, Lays, Fritos and Ruffles. PepsiCo, owner of Frito-Lay, received the majority demand in the chip category.
Seasonal Demand for Snacks
The end of June is one time during the year when consumers search online the least for snacks. In 2016, the National Confectioners Association established National Candy Month in June to celebrate suppliers and increase sales during drop in sales.
For the last three years, the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas were another slow time for snacks, according to Pattern.
“It is probable that people are less likely to buy snacks after eating large meals and attending multiple celebrations that are common during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and have no need to seek their own junk food after eating the snacks provided at holiday parties,” said Pattern.
Seasonal Demand for Candy
Over the course of the year, the demand for chocolate and nonchocolate peaked the highest the week of Valentine’s Day. It also jumped during the weeks of Halloween, Christmas, Easter and Mother’s Day.
At the end of June, much like the demand for snacks, the demand for candy dropped. The week of Thanksgiving and the week after Christmas were also lows. This has been a consistent pattern over the last three years.
The study also notes that the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic did not cause the demand for candy to rise.
“Interestingly, demand for chocolate and candy did not spike significantly in the three weeks after the announcement of the pandemic on March 11, 2020, unlike the demand for other junk food categories,” said Pattern.
Seasonal Demand for Healthy Snacks, Chips, Baked Goods, Sodas
In contrast to candy, the demand for items in the healthy snacks, chips, baked goods and soda categories spiked after the announcement of the pandemic. Three weeks later, these categories resumed their previous seasonal pattern: peaks during the week of Valentine’s Day, the Superbowl and Labor Day, followed by low demand during the week of Thanksgiving.
With healthy snacks on an upward trajectory from Thanksgiving until early February, Pattern attributed this behavior to holiday eating habits.
“It may be that right after overeating on Thanksgiving, people start to try improving their health by consuming healthier snacks and probably do well with their New Year’s diets and exercise until their healthy habits are derailed by Superbowl watch parties and Valentine’s Day chocolates,” Pattern said.
Demand for healthy snacks when it comes to online shopping is greater than the demand for chips, baked goods and soda, possibly speaking to the types of products consumers have in mind when visiting the e-commerce giant, according to Pattern.
Seasonal Demand for Meat Snacks and Popcorn
In the meat snacks and popcorn categories, these products reached their peak two weeks before Christmas and had relatively low demand throughout the rest of the year.
When the pandemic was declared, these categories experienced a spike in demand for about two months.