For a cookie brand that is 60 years old, Chips Ahoy! is surprisingly hip with young shoppers.
The Mondelēz International-owned cookie is attracting broad interest from Gen Z consumers who are looking for a sweet indulgent treat. Its popularity among younger individuals, coupled with a rising interest in snacks among the broader population, has made Chips Ahoy! one of Mondelēz’s fastest-growing brands.
Sales for the $1 billion brand are increasing “double digits” annually, according to Tanya Berman, senior vice president of Mondelēz’s biscuit business, with teens responsible for the biggest share of that growth.
“We have high ambitions to continue to drive double-digit growth,” Berman said in an interview. “That’s obviously aggressive, but we think we can continue to build on it with the core business as well as flavor extensions and partnerships.”
Chips Ahoy! was invented in 1963 by Nabisco. The cookies were originally promoted as tasting as good as homemade despite being mass-produced in a factory.
For years, Mondelēz, which now owns Chips Ahoy! along with other brands such as Ritz and Oreo, supported the brand in stores with promotions and displays. Sales were “humming along,” Berman said.
But around 2019, and during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company took a deeper look at the brand that was flying off the shelf and realized it could do more to reach consumers. In 2022 Morning Consult named Chips Ahoy! a Top 25 Gen Z brand.
In 2020, Mondelēz stopped buying television space for Chips Ahoy!, which for much of its history was key to connecting with shoppers and keeping the chocolate chip cookie top of mind. In its place, the CPG giant has moved to where Gen Z consumers are spending time, in places such as social media channels like TikTok, Twitch and YouTube, online gaming, the NCAA, the performing arts and the Boys and Girls Club.
Chips Ahoy! has ”become much more modern and relevant for them because they see it in places that they think of as part of their everyday lives, or that they think are cool,” Berman noted.
The original Chips Ahoy! is responsible for the lion’s share of the brand's overall sales at around 58%.
But Mondelēz has moved aggressively in recent years to extend the cookie’s reach into other flavors and formats, including Thins, Red Velvet, S’mores, Minis and offerings loaded with Hershey’s chocolate or Reese’s.
While the original cookie will dominate when it comes to future sales, these extensions provide additional choices for consumers who may want something different or a better fit for a particular season (think Red Velvet paired with hot cocoa.)
Mondelēz noted many consumers are likely to buy a few Chips Ahoy! products simultaneously, such as the classic cookie and then one of the special offerings to share at a party or office gathering. The company plans to keep Chips Ahoy! fresh with new flavors and textures that tap into chewy, crunchy and chunky.
The snacking giant also will promote the cookie for other uses. Recently, Mondelēz worked with retailers to place Chips Ahoy! near the ice cream aisle to encourage shoppers to purchase it when they make an ice cream sandwich. The company also sells Chips Ahoy! as a topping for ice cream, and it has partnered on a Chips Ahoy! version of the popular frozen novelty.
“The ongoing challenge always is to stay relevant and to make sure that the connections are in the right spaces,” Berman said. “We’re in a good heartland right now but we have to continue to stay on top of what’s in our Gen Z consumers’ minds and their parents as well.”