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Competitor Analysis in Marketing for the $6B Snack Bar Market

Background for Competitor Analysis in Marketing: Snacking and Snack Bars Growing

A competitor analysis in marketing snack bars takes into account general snacking behaviors. Snacking “as a lifestyle” has been growing consistently, driven by convenience demands, mobile lifestyles and preferences for mini meals.    In 2019, IRI reported that “core” snacking grew +3%, compared with total food and beverage growth of 2.6%.  Through April 2020, with work-from-home and COVID impact, IRI MULO found US snack bars experienced continued growth of 1.4% to reach $6.4 billion in size. Other sources estimate the category to be even larger, at close to $7.7 billion in 2020.

Understand Multiple Need States of Consumers

One expert suggests that bars deliver four primary benefits: wellness, performance, mainstream grain and treat. Jessica Gardeck, associate channel manager, platform marketing and innovation for General Mills Convenience & Foodservice as quoted in Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery June 17, 2020:

“Each of these areas offers consumers something very different. For instance, there are consumers seeking out a bar that offers protein (performance), while others may be seeking out an option that accommodates a particular dietary need or preference, whether it’s gluten-free or keto (wellness).”

Competitor Analysis in Marketing for the $6B Snack Bar Market

Competitor Analysis in Marketing for Snack Bars: Bar and Non-Bar Competitors

We worked with a leading snack bar manufacturer to develop a consumer need state segmentation.  There were thirteen micro need states, which aggregate to six macro need states.  These included:

  • Whole foods nutrition
  • Nutritious treat alternative
  • Value and healthy
  • Positive nutrition dieting
  • Restrictive dieting fix
  • Performance energy boost
  • Sustained nutritious energy
  • Filling meal alternative
  • Accessible sweet treat
  • And more
Competitor Analysis in Marketing for the $6B Snack Bar Market

Bar Competitors by Need State

Leading manufacturers include Kellogg’s, General Mills and PepsiCo (Quaker), each of whom have product portfolios that address multiple need states. Below are examples of competitor analysis in marketing to these need states.

  • Natural Valley Crunchy delivered strongly against the value and healthy need state (perhaps because there are two bars in each package)
  • Nature Valley Chewy indexed highly in nutritious treat alternative
  • As might be expected, Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treat delivered against accessible sweet treat
  • Kellogg’s Special K bars are used more for a restrictive dieting fix occasion  

For each need state, both relevant bar and non-bar competitors could be understood.  Non-bars include other options such as cookies (blurring the line in many cases), yogurt, nuts, and fruit. 

Bar Competitors by Product Subsegment

Within snack bars there are also product subsegments. In 2017, General Mills was reported as the market leader in the granola bar sub segment with its Nature Valley Crunchy ($367M), Nature Valley Chewy Sweet & Salty Nut ($244M), and Cascadian Valley Organic ($34M) brands. 

Quaker occupied the second place position with Chewy ($225M), and Chewy Dipps ($84M).  Other competitors included private label ($146M), Kind Healthy Grains ($88M), Sunbelt Bakery ($89M) and Atkins ($40M).

Snack bars are a large, highly-competitive market and require careful competitor analysis in marketing the products.  Having several different lenses, including need states as well as product subsegments, helped illuminate areas for growth, and portfolio gaps for our client manufacturer.

Competitor analysis in marketing is essential for your brand. Contact us to begin a collaboration.