Mars Wrigley Sees 3 Snacking Trends Post-Pandemic

The company also is accelerating its digital presence to meet customers where they are.

November 02, 2021

M&Ms

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Blas Maquivar, president of global emerging markets for Mars Wrigley, talked consumers’ evolving snacking behaviors, the company’s digital and ambitions and emerging markets during on a recent podcast episode by McKinsey and Co. featuring Maquivar.

Maquivar says that as far as snacking trends go, we aren’t seeing new trends but rather trends that existed before the pandemic and are accelerating. He sees three trends. The first is the “digital default” trend, as digital shopping has quintupled over the past 18 months. Mars Wrigley sees a second trend called “back to nature and back to home,” meaning people discovered new activities with their families inside their homes, and a third trend is health and wellness: Consumers are more aware of what they are eating and more aware of their mental health.

“The challenge is not identifying these trends—we already know them, and the majority of the industry knows them. The real challenge is what you do about it: having the speed and agility to be one step ahead of the competition and to delight consumers as they are embracing these trends,” said Maquivar.

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.

When it comes to successful strategies in emerging markets, Maquivar says that the majority of snacking consists of baked goods—cookies and biscuits—followed by salty snacks, like corn chips and potato chips. After that, but quite far down the list, is chocolate, because chocolate is more expensive than a cookie, he says.

“Everyone snacks. A Mexican, an Egyptian, an American—everyone snacks. What changes is what they snack on and where they buy it,” said Maquivar.

Maquivar says that three aspects allow a successful growth strategy in emerging markets. One is mental availability.

“How do we ensure that the emerging-market consumer is aware of our brands? We need to have best-in-class advertising, supported with very robust media investment,” said Maquivar.

Next is physical availability. Once the market is aware of the brand, then they’ll go to their favorite shop to find that brand, so CPG companies need to have the right pricing, packaging and display, anchored in the right route to market, he says.

Finally, we need to make sure that products do the right job for the right occasion. People snack for different reasons, says Maquivar.

“We snack because we are a little bit hungry, and it’s still two hours before lunch. Or you are watching a movie with your family and you want to share some chocolates. These occasions cannot be satisfied by the same format … So having the right formats to satisfy the right jobs is the final unlocker of penetration,” said Maquivar.

Listen to the rest of the interview on the McKinsey on Consumer and Retail podcast.