Snack Food’s Highs and Lows

Snack demand rises to its height for the year during the week of Valentine’s Day and the Super Bowl, to its second peak during the week of Halloween, and then a third peak two weeks before Christmas.

Snack foods have a unique place in American culture. They are intrinsically tied to our annual and holiday celebrations, our indulgent habits, and other milestones. When viewed as a whole, our data scientists have uncovered clear seasonal patterns in consumer demand for snacks on Amazon. To measure demand, we use our proprietary algorithm for estimating the number of searches for snacks on Amazon during a given period.

As the leader in global ecommerce acceleration, we’re constantly analyzing trends in online commerce to help brands understand consumer behavior to drive their own sales. So, to celebrate National Junk Food Day (July 21), we asked:

  • Which junk food categories and brands have the highest demand on Amazon?
  • Are there any patterns in junk food demand throughout the year?
  • How has demand for junk food changed since the start of the pandemic?

Demand is Seasonal

Demand reaches its lowest points at the end of June and during the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is probable that people are less likely to buy snacks after eating large meals and attending multiple celebrations that are common during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and have no need to seek their own junk food after eating the snacks provided at holiday parties. This has been the overall pattern for the last three years. It is interesting to note that whoever came up with the idea for a National Junk Food Day probably did so to stoke demand because it occurs at the time of the year when the demand for junk food is typically very low.

Junk Food Categories with the Highest Demand

The junk food categories that have the highest demand on Amazon include chocolates and candy, followed by chips, baked goods, meat snacks, and popcorn. Snack categories that are more difficult to obtain through Amazon, such as soda, pizza and ice cream, have lower demand.

Three Patterns of Seasonality

When we break snack foods down into subcategories, three patterns of seasonality emerge.

The first seasonal pattern concerns chocolate and candy. Demand for these sweets peaks during the weeks of Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day. It reaches its maximum demand during the week of Valentine’s Day, likely thanks to the tradition of chocolates as a Valentine’s gift.

The second pattern is a low at the end of June, during the week of Thanksgiving, and the week right after Christmas. This pattern has been consistent over the past three years. Interestingly, demand for chocolate and candy did not spike significantly in the three weeks after the announcement of the pandemic on March 11, 2020, unlike the demand for other junk food categories, as we will see below.

The third pattern of seasonality occurs within the healthy snacks, chips, baked goods, and soda categories. These all experienced a spike in demand for three weeks following the declaration of the pandemic on March 11th, 2020. After that, they resumed with our first seasonal pattern: a peak during the week of Valentine’s Day and the Superbowl, a peak during the week of Labor Day, and then low demand during the week of Thanksgiving.

Interestingly, healthy snacks experience their greatest rise from Thanksgiving until early February (Superbowl and Valentine’s Day). It may be that right after overeating on Thanksgiving, people start to try improving their health by consuming healthier snacks and probably do well with their New Year’s diets and exercise until their healthy habits are derailed by Superbowl watch parties and Valentine’s Day chocolates. Demand for healthy snacks on Amazon is greater than the demand for chips, baked goods, and soda, possibly speaking to the types of products consumers have in mind when visiting the ecommerce giant.

Our fourth seasonal pattern in demand for snack food includes meat snacks and popcorn. These categories reach their peak demand two weeks before Christmas and have relatively low demand the rest of the year. Both meat snacks and popcorn experienced a brief spike in demand that lasted for about two months after the pandemic was declared.

Which Junk Food Brands Have the Highest Demand?

When we look at the brands of chocolates, candy, and chips that have the highest demand, we find that demand is dominated by only two or three brands in each category. For chocolates, the brands with the highest demand are M&Ms and Hershey’s Kisses.

Sour Patch Kids and Skittles lead the demand for non-chocolate candy brands on Amazon.

For chips, consumer demand is highest for Doritos, Pringles, and Cheetos.

Changing Consumer Preferences

Consumer demand for all categories of junk food has increased over the past year. Candy led the way with a 19.5% increase in demand YoY. Popcorn and chocolate were next with increases of 16.2% and 15.7%, respectively. Meat snacks grew the least with only 0.1% YoY growth.

For brands of chocolate, the demand for Hershey’s Kisses on Amazon has increased substantially since Q3 of 2019 and has overtaken demand for M&Ms and Almond Joy. Demand for Kit Kats, Snickers, and Butterfingers has been decreasing. Demand for Twix is low but steady.

With respect to brands of non-chocolate candy, Skittles garners the most demand, with Sour Patch Kids and Hot Tamales battling for second. Meanwhile, demand for Nerds is slowly increasing, but demand for Dots, Tootsie Pops, and Starbursts is flat or decreasing.

Demand for brands of chips has been decreasing since the start of the pandemic with the highest demand being for Fritos and Pringles. Demand for Pringles on Amazon surpassed demand for Doritos for three quarters during the past two years. Perhaps the variety of flavors and ease of delivery of a can of Pringles has made them attractive to Amazon shoppers.

Junk Food Roundup

Our analysis shows that the junk foods with the highest demand on Amazon are chocolates, candies, and chips. The seasonality of demand for these junk foods coincides with major US holidays and the Super Bowl with predictable patterns of peaks and troughs in demand.

The highest demand for individual brands of chocolate, candy, and chips on Amazon is focused on only a few brands for each subcategory that battle for demand each quarter.

Our insights into consumer search and shopping indicate there is seasonality to many junk and healthy food products–from candy to popcorn and more. Understanding shifts in consumer demand timed to specific events or milestones is important for brands and retailers who must forecast inventory to coincide with seasonal demand for different products throughout the year.

To stay up to date on consumer behavior and ecommerce news, info, and trend analyses, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights on the right. If you’d like to learn more about how you can leverage our data to help your brand win online, schedule a demo today.

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Improve Your Amazon Advertising Strategy With One Simple Metric: True RoAS
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Improve Your Amazon Advertising Strategy With One Simple Metric: True RoAS

The purpose of advertising on Amazon is simple: increase traffic and conversions. But the approach to get those conversions is not always so simple. Your Amazon advertising strategy is based on current ad data and performance results such as your return on ad spend (RoAS). 

At a minimum, your RoAS number tells you how well you’re maximizing your ad spend. The problem is the RoAS you’re getting from Amazon or an advertising agency isn’t always accurate. 

As a top 3P seller on Amazon, Pattern helps brands improve their Amazon advertising strategy and results by providing them with one simple metric: true RoAS.

Understanding True RoAS

To understand why true RoAS is helpful to brands, you need to understand how Amazon and other agencies calculate and present your RoAS.

The key to growing your brand and maximizing your ad spend is to drive incremental traffic, rather than cannibalizing what has already taken place. For example, if you are selling probiotics, and paying for sponsored ads to win the keyword “probiotics for women”, but also organically ranked in the top results with the same keyword, that’s cannibalization. The RoAS score you would receive from Amazon includes that level of cannibalism, which inflates the number, causing you to pay more on ad spend. The best ads drive incremental growth instead of cannibalizing organic sales. 

At Pattern, we’ve created the acceleration software to make sure brands are getting their “true RoAS”. Pattern’s patented tool applies artificial intelligence to advertising to maximize incremental growth or true return on investment. 

Our software helps brands optimize their efforts by providing live and updated information on where your brand is not organically ranking, and what you should be paying for. If your ranking improves in one area, the ad spend will automatically decrease for those words or phrases until the software detects a drop in ranking, signaling that your ad spend should go up again. This dynamic monitoring of ad spend will help you maximize incremental growth and improve your RoAS.

Improve Your Amazon Ad Strategy with Pattern

Knowing your true RoAS is key to improving your Amazon performance. Advertising agencies and marketplace account managers often give you an inaccurate RoAS ratio or value, which only incentivizes you to spend more on advertising, ultimately increasing revenue for the agencies and/or marketplaces.

At Pattern, a 3P partner on Amazon and other marketplaces, we view our brands just as that: a partnership. When you win, we win. You succeed on Amazon by maximizing your ad spend and we have the data and resources to help you do just that. Accurate, transparent data and reporting will help improve your advertising strategy to drive more traffic to and conversions on your products. 

Ready to finally get your true RoAS? Contact us.   

Slowing Inflation is Music to Consumers’ Ears
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Slowing Inflation is Music to Consumers’ Ears

**Instrument Pricing Changes Tune Amid Record Inflation** Compared to 2022, consumers should expect to pay more for musical instruments, but the rate of inflation shows signs of slowing. **The backstory:** America’s most popular musical instruments saw a notable price increase in 2022 compared to 2021, but the rate of inflation eased in Q4 ’22. **Why it matters:** Slowing inflation within this product category could indicate economic pressures like increased demand, rising labor costs, and supply chain disruptions are easing across the consumer landscape. **What we’re seeing:** The average cost of musical instruments increased 7.5% from 2021 – 2022; however, when analyzing individual increases year over year, some instruments saw price increases as high as 21%. <iframe title="YOY Price Change for Instruments — 2022 vs. 2021" aria-label="Bar Chart" id="datawrapper-chart-02Lwk" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/02Lwk/2/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="379" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> * Trombones experienced a 21.73% increase compared to 2021 * Trumpets +20.08% * Flutes +18.6% * Recorders +16.13% * Saxophones +13.63% * Clarinets +10.55% * Drums +5.41% * Ukuleles +5.17% **However:** Inflation among these same instruments was significantly less in Q4 ’22 compared to Q4 ’21. In some cases, prices decreased from Q4 ’21 – Q4 ‘22: <iframe title="Price Change for Instruments — Q4 2022 vs. Q4 2021" aria-label="Bar Chart" id="datawrapper-chart-6X6GZ" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/6X6GZ/2/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="379" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> * Trombones +11.23% * Flutes +10.41% * Saxophones +5.94% * Clarinets +5.59% * Trumpets +3.10% * Recorders +2.85% * Drums -2.59% * Ukuleles -8.46% **Moreover:** Certain instruments saw inflation reverse in 2022. On average, prices for melodicas, guitars, and violas saw their prices decrease by 4.41%, 3.19%, and 0.97%, respectively. <iframe title="YOY Price Change for Instruments — 2022 vs. 2021" aria-label="Bar Chart" id="datawrapper-chart-0Tefk" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/0Tefk/3/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="259" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> **Diving Deeper:** Inflation was more significant when comparing Q4 ’21 to Q4 ’20 than when comparing Q4 ’22 to Q4 ’21, indicating a slowing down of price increases for consumers. <iframe title="YOY Q4 Price Change for Instruments — 2020 – 2022" aria-label="Stacked Bars" id="datawrapper-chart-p6iqt" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/p6iqt/1/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="206" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> * In Q4 ’21, average prices for all instruments were up 8.89% compared to Q4 ’20. * When comparing Q4 ’22 to Q4 ’21, the average price for all instruments only increased by 2.65%. **The takeaway:** While consumers should expect to pay higher prices for instruments this year, overall inflation impact within this product category appears to be slowing down. With National Ukulele Day coming up on February 2, now is a great time for ecommerce brands to take advantage of slowing economic worries and reach new consumers. * Want Pattern’s data science team to power your brand with consumer insights like these? Contact us to [request more information](https://pattern.com/contact-us/) today.

Slowing Inflation? What Musical Instrument Pricing Tells Us
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Slowing Inflation? What Musical Instrument Pricing Tells Us

It’s safe to say consumers and brands alike are eager for a change to the pattern of rising inflation, steadily increasing in many ecommerce categories . Pattern’s internal team’s data scientists analysis of instrument pricing shows a glimmer of hope that inflation may be slowing, which would be great news for brands selling online.

At Pattern, we’re interested in and monitoring trends and news related to pricing since price is a key factor in a brand’s profitability (as explained in the Ecommerce Equation). When brands are able to optimize their price, conversions, and traffic, they can optimize their profitability. And profitability leads to better allocation of resources, better brand control, and gives leaders the ability to expand their presence to new markets worldwide.

YoY Instrument Pricing Increased at a Slower Pace

When analyzing the pricing changes of instruments from 2021 to 2022, our teams found that prices increased, but at a slower rate than from 2020 to 2021.

As shown below, the year over year Q4 changes show quite a lower rate of increase.

Inflation Improvements Raise Profitability

Because inflation impacts online shopping behaviors, lower inflation can lead to better overall profitability for brands. This idea, of course, is nuanced, but Pattern’s Ecommerce Equation can help illustrate the general principle.

When inflation rises, consumers change their spending habits. Shoppers spend more time researching products, forego premium, higher-priced brands, and buy more in bulk. Brands tend to see a loss of loyalty as they’re forced to raise prices.

Price is a key variable in the Ecommerce Equation: price x conversion x traffic = profitability. As inflation lowers, brands can expect better performance in all of these areas—more traffic as spending habits return to normal, higher conversion from returning customers, and price that better fits consumer demand. As inflation lowers and these variables stabilize, brands will see profitability increase.

Raise Your Profitability with Pattern

As an ecommerce accelerator, Pattern is obsessed with gathering data that helps our brand partners succeed. We’ve created best-in-class technology, models, and analytics to understand changes on the horizon and inform our decisions. With an incredible team of data obsessed Pattern employees, we see what makes the difference in truly great ecommerce performance and apply those learnings for brand partners. 

Ready to improve your profitability? Contact us here.

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