Hartman Snacking Report Calls Out Heat


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Bellevue, WA — The Hartman Group, Inc. reports that flavor preferences are heating up, and brands are leaning in. PepsiCo recently made headlines for establishing Flamin’ Hot as a distinct brand within its portfolio, pointing to several key trends within snacking.

The research group notes that the Flamin’ Hot brand will debut with 25 unique products and distinct packaging, making it easier for consumers to identify these offerings amidst the boom in spicy-flavored snacks.

The new branding is intended to play into the edgy attitude fans have come to love and expect from Flamin’ Hot, which is the #1 brand in spicy salty snacks according to Frito-Lay.

Consumers made nearly 400 million trips to buy Flamin’s hot products last year, up 31 percent vs. 2022, further signaling the power behind hot and spicy flavor trend.

While they have broad appeal across the food and beverage industry, spicy flavors are particularly relevant in the snacking category where consumers show a clear desire for experiences that satisfy both comfort and adventure. Younger generations are especially heat-seeking: Hartman’s new Future of Snacking 2024 study found that 62 percent of Gen Z and 59 percent of millennials enjoy spicy foods.

The Flamin’ Hot brand extension underscores a crucial business principle: adaptability, according to Hartman. Any trend can be lucrative for a period, it continues, but the difference between a flash in the pan and enduring success is continuing to evolve with the trend . . . all while remaining consumer centric.

For example, the research on snacking culture signals that consumers are looking beyond one-dimensional flavors for complex, layered taste profiles. Lay’s new “swicy” chips and Coca-Cola’s Spiced varieties are other examples of tapping into consumer desire for novelty and sensory depth, according to Hartman.

Additionally, globally inspired flavors like the spices found in Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin American foods have been gaining popularity for some time. Technology and global connectivity have enhanced culinary exploration, especially for younger consumers: 12 percent of Gen Z and 14 percent of Millennials have purchased “global snacks” in the past 3 months (vs. 7 percent for Gen X and 4 percent for Boomers). This shift towards adventurous flavors signifies a broader movement towards snacks that offer both taste innovation and cultural richness, it reports.