Snacking E-Commerce to Live on Post-Pandemic

Consumers who switched to at-home consumption aren’t turning back, fueling online sales for snacks.

November 16, 2021

Oreo Cookies

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Mondelēz says that digital sales of cookies and candy are here to stay, according to Bloomberg. E-commerce sales for the company are up by 30% in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and e-commerce was 20% of total sales in China, aided by partnerships with TikTok and Alibaba, which gave consumers wider online access to its products.

Consumers who were stuck at home became savvier at using e-commerce channels to satisfy their snack cravings, which were a source of comfort as well as a “lifeline during the pandemic,” said Maurizio Brusadelli, executive vice president and president of Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

Brusadelli says the growth in digital sales will continue even after the pandemic ends because customers are now used to at-home consumption and have shifted toward it. In China, consumers are using e-commerce platforms to shop for biscuits and gum, Indian consumers sought out chocolate and Australians opted for healthier, low-sugar snacks, both online and in stores.

Blas Maquivar, president of global emerging markets for Mars Wrigley, sees three trends evolving in the snacking category, including a “digital default” trend. To be agile and innovative during the pandemic, Mars Wrigley has accelerated the building of digital capabilities across its markets, and it has transformed its portfolio to satisfy the consumer from that digital angle. In India, the company launched an online Snickers store in partnership with Swiggy, and it doubled down on our My M&Ms digital store, where customers can send their photograph or a loved one’s photograph and get it printed on M&Ms.

“The context of all of this is that digital, or e-commerce, represents low- to mid-single digits of our total business. Our intent is to have it become 20% of our business,” said Maquivar.

Brusadelli also sees strong sales growth in chocolate, especially in India and China, as consumers become more affluent and average consumption remains “very low” compared to Europe and North America, Brusadelli said. “Asia continues to offer significant potential and opportunity for growth. I see a lot of opportunities for chocolate,” he said. Mondelēz  has the biggest chocolate market share in India, Malaysia and Australia, company data show.

Here in the U.S., consumers’ love for chocolate holds strong, with chocolate accounting for about 60% of all confectionery sales in the U.S. More than 80% of Americans consume chocolate in at least two of the three chocolate segments, which are mainstream chocolate (brands like Hershey and MARS), premium chocolate (Lindt or Ghirardelli) and fine chocolate. Eighty-three percent of consumers purchase mainstream chocolate, and half of those respondents say mainstream is their typical chocolate choice.