- Aroma is an essential component of the snacking experience for millennials, and many want their food products to immediately emanate the smell of their central flavors, according to a recent survey published in Bakery and Snacks. The survey included 1,000 male and female participants from the U.K., Germany, France, Spain and Poland.
- “Ultimately, we know that millennials in these countries are looking for three key things regarding snacks: authenticity, a sensorial playground and health,”Ciara McCabe, Consumer Insights Manager with Kerry Europe and Russia, told Bakery and Snacks.
- When it comes to the "sensorial playground," millennials want new and different flavors, new texture experiences, and strong, natural smells that bring a specific environment to mind.
Food and beverage manufacturers have long known that consumers eat with all five senses. Pringles performed an experiment where they played the sound of different chips crunching for consumers. The brand determined that the sound a chip makes when broken was a strong indicator of whether it was stale or fresh. Pringles used that feedback to modify its chips' texture, as well as its packaging and marketing campaigns, to reinforce the sound of fresh chips.
Kit Kat has also centered countless advertising campaigns on the sounds of snapping and eating its chocolate covered wafers, to the point where the "crunch" sound of their product is now an expected part of eating a Kit Kat bar.
Food manufacturers have also leveraged product aroma in order to create multi-sensory experiences for their consumers. In 2012, McCain Foods announced plans to set up scent-shooting machines in the frozen food aisles next to it’s Ready-Baked Jacket potatoes at Tesco and Asda stores. Customers were welcome to step up and activate the unit to produce the smell of heating potatoes. In this case, the consumer could smell the product in a highly-concentrated form, even though the product itself couldn't give off the scent from the freezer case. This could be a fun, interactive way for manufacturers to get consumers excited about frozen food products, especially since product smell indicates freshness to many consumers — a reputation frozen food makers have long tried to capture.
It's important for food brands to seek natural solutions for stronger scents, however. Many CPGs have turned to synthetic solutions in order to boost the aroma of salty or sweet food to make consumers think that the product has stronger flavor. And while this strategy may allow manufacturers to boost perceived taste without adding more sugar or sodium, it also conflicts with consumer demand for natural product ingredients.
Interesting package shapes and textures can also be a way to introduce multi-sensory experiences to consumers before they are able to open the container. Premium packaging may be more expensive than traditional methods, but many consumers are willing to pay more for products that offer extra value — in this case, a "sensorial playground."
It will be interesting to see how consumer demand for dynamic sensory experiences evolves, and if complex flavors, textures and smells become an expectation for mainstream shoppers. If it does, manufacturers need to be ready to invest in innovations that will tickle consumers' taste buds — and olfactories.