Think big to grow crisp sales

Bag of crisps

The single biggest shift in the crisps and snacks category over the last 12 months has been a huge swing into larger format and multipack products – a trend that retailers would be wise to follow.


Convenience stores have cemented their position at the heart of communities across Scotland in the last year or so and that trend has had a huge impact on many categories and chief among those in crisps and snacks.

“Although convenience stores have always been a community hub, during the pandemic they have become pivotal,” says Guy Harvey, Impulse Category Management Controller at PepsiCo.  “They have offered daily essentials to shoppers who would rather not visit the larger supermarkets, resulting in many consumers shopping more locally. Over half of shoppers (54%) now use a convenience store every week [Lumina Intelligence, 2020].

“We’ve also seen a huge difference in shopper behaviour across the impulse channel, especially in relation to traditional snacking occasions. As shoppers spent more time of their time at home, there was a marked decrease in sales of single-serve products.”

The good news, however, is that this collapse in the sales of single serve products has been replaced by an increase in sharing and multi-packs sales.

Harvey explains: “Multipacks specifically have performed extremely well – growing by +15.6% [Nielsen, Dec 2020] over the past year. As we begin the slow transition out of lockdown, larger packs will likely continue to dominate over traditional singles as shoppers look to incorporate a series of lunchtime and snacking occasions.”

Around 65% of shopping trips to symbols and indies now consist of sharing products, but 88% of sharing purchases occur outside of the impulse channel.

“This presents a huge opportunity for stores, as retailers can capitalise on a bit of the market traditionally purchased ‘elsewhere’,” says Harvey. “Therefore, crisps will play an important role in savoury snacking for retailers, with shoppers’ wanting larger formats for on-the-go occasions with friends and family, dependent on changing lockdown restrictions.

Best and newest

For retailers, the key here is having a deep understanding of both your best-selling lines and keeping one eye on relevant, important NPD.

“We are introducing new price-marked packs across a number of our multipack and sharing bag lines, to help retailers offer everyday value to shoppers,” comments Harvey. “For the first time, two multipack products will include a price-marked flash: Walkers Classic Variety and Quavers Cheese 6-packs. New larger Doritos and Walkers Sensations sharing bags will also launch with an RSP of £2, with pack size having increased in size by 20g.

“The £2 PMPs will be available across three products: Doritos Chilli Heatwave, Tangy Cheese and Walkers Sensations Thai Sweet Chilli, offering better value than the existing 65g bags.

We hope that our new range – exclusive to the convenience channel – will help retailers to continue to thrive as we begin the move out of lockdown, catering to demand for sharing snacks as restrictions on socialising together decrease.”

Walkers has also updated its core range of crisps and snacks for Symbols and Independents, launching its expanded HERO 25 line-up. It gives a greater focus to PMP and sharing products, offering retailers value and formats that are in demand with shoppers.

With financial uncertainty a concern for many, consumers aren’t just looking for products to share with friends and family, value for money is still high on the agenda.

“Indeed, 62% of shoppers say they are now more careful with their cash [Lumina Intelligence, 2020],” explains Harvey. “By offering PMPs in sharing formats, Hero 25 allows retailers to stock our core bestsellers that meet this demand. We wanted to ensure retailers could maximise crisp and snacks sales, encouraging them to stock the formats and flavours that shoppers will be demanding.”

In addition to the expanded HERO range, Walkers has launched a range called DRIVE 25, offering a tailored approach, with a targeted range for medium and larger stores.

Harvey says: “Having a wider selection than HERO 25 means retailers can add breath and excitement to their range, with fun products that will lead to strong sales. The selected lines, such as Cheetos, Wotsits and Quavers, are ideal for the big night in occasions, with recognisable brands that add a sense of occasion to savoury snacking. DRIVE 25 gives retailers the ability to tailor their range, stocking new launches and additional formats in the best-selling segments like £1 PMP.

The HERO 25 and DRIVE 25 ranges include bestsellers that make up 35% of crisp and snacks sales [Nielsen Oct 2020], making sure it will capture shopper interest when looking for solutions to snacking occasions.

Key trends

According to PepsiCo, the key trend that retailer should keep an eye on is full flavours. Harvey says: “Our shoppers are all-in, they want bold flavour and excellent value – and they don’t want compromise. To meet demand, we launched our KFC x Walkers MAX collaboration in January, introducing two signature flavours:

  • Walkers MAX Kentucky Fried Chicken: Walkers classic ridged MAX crisp with the signature flavour of KFC Kentucky Fried Chicken
  • Walkers MAX Double Crunch Zinger: Walkers newest, deep-ridged MAX Double Crunch crisp (2x crunch of MAX) with the hot and spicy KFC Zinger flavour.

“The new products offer the ultimate fulfilling snack, delivering the epic KFC signature taste that people know and love, with the familiar and satisfying crunch of Walkers MAX.”

Available all-year-round, each flavour has a limited time on-pack promotion until 31 July giving consumers a 2-for-1 KFC Meal with every pack.

Consumers simply need to buy a promotional pack and take it to their local KFC restaurant for takeaway or drive-thru to claim the meal.

The team-up with KFC follows the tremendously successful 2020 full re-launch of the Walkers MAX portfolio, which has grown by 11.4% year to date [Nielsen, Dec 2020] and Walkers Taste Icons – the most successful Walkers limited edition flavour campaign in three years.