The “Snack 50” ranking based on psychological drivers of consumer behaviour

June 9, 2023

A new study unveils groundbreaking insights into snack brand strength and performance

In a pioneering effort to understand the underlying psychological factors driving snack consumption patterns, Reese’s (The Hershey Company), Lay’s (PepsiCo), and Great Value brands (Walmart) have emerged as the top-ranking brands in the industry’s first comprehensive measure of snack brand strength and performance.

The research, conducted and designed by neuro-market researchers at Alpha-Diver in partnership with The Food Institute, a food industry media company, was presented in May.

Unlike previous rankings based on popularity polls, sales volume, or reviewer critiques, the “Snack 50 Psych Pulse” claims to establish a groundbreaking approach by examining the “WHYs” of consumer behaviour. This innovative ranking provides valuable insights into consumer-to-brand affinity, brand usage momentum, and potential growth paths.

Hunter Thurman, CEO of Alpha-Diver, the leading neuroscience-based consumer insights market research firm, explained: “The ‘Snack 50’ is the first rating that provides diagnostics from a consumer perspective of brand performance, including consumer to brand affinity, brand usage momentum, and potential brand growth paths.”

The top 10 brands in the “Snack 50” ranking are as follows:

  1. Reese’s
  2. Lay’s
  3. Great Value brands
  4. Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps
  5. Nutri-Grain
  6. Skinny Pop Popcorn
  7. Sour Patch Kids
  8. Starburst
  9. Cape Cod
  10. Aldi
The "Snack 50" ranking based on psychological drivers of consumer behaviour

The rankings were determined through Alpha-Diver’s proprietary Psych Pulse composite score, which incorporates key dimensions: Behaviour (routine consumption), Emotion (consumer enthusiasm), and Trajectory (brand usage momentum). According to Hale, PhD, director of research and principal neuroscientist at Alpha-Diver, this comprehensive approach allows for a more accurate assessment of brand strength.

In addition to the brand rankings, the “Snack 50 Psych Pulse” provides insights into consumer decision-making behaviour across four key dimensions:

  1. Rational: Brands that offer practical options with a rational appeal. Top performers include Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps, Nutri-Grain, and Skinny Pop Popcorn
  2. Experiential: Brands that provide new sensory experiences. Top performers include Sour Patch Kids, Starburst, and Cape Cod
  3. Tribal: Brands that foster social connection and agreement. Top performers include Aldi, Great Value brands, and Lay’s
  4. Instinctual: Brands that evoke impulse-driven feel-good experiences. Top performers include Slim Jim, Jack Links, and Sour Patch Kids.

The “Snack 50 Psych Pulse” also sheds light on momentum gainers and strugglers among snack brands. Leading momentum gainers include Aplenty, Happy Belly, and Favourite Day, while momentum laggards include KitKat, Ruffles, and Chex Mix.

Moreover, the study highlights five dimensions that may hinder brands in consumers’ hearts and minds:

  1. Price: Perception of good value
  2. Time: Fit into daily life
  3. Social: Social endorsement
  4. Physical: Negative connotations regarding how the brand makes consumers feel
  5. Emotional: Fear of disappointment

The complete “Snack 50” list and topline report can be accessed here.

The “Snack 50” rankings are based on the psychology of a representative sample of consumers across different age groups and settings. Covering 12 categories with over $50 billion in annual sales, the study provides a comprehensive understanding of consumer behaviour.

Webinar registration for the May 16 event, titled “Introducing The Snack 50 – The Industry’s First Psych-Based Measurement of the World’s Top Snack Brands,” can be found using the provided link.

Join us at SIAL Paris as exhibitor Join us at SIAL Paris as visitor