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Indonesia 2016 | Thought Leadership | Health and indulgence

Health and indulgence – the twin opportunities at snack time

Mahesh Agarwal, Executive Director, TNS Indonesia

Indonesians love snacking.  And when they eat a snack, they’re also looking for something to drink; sometimes the drink itself is the snack.

Brands in the snack and beverage sectors have long understood that consumers make different choices depending on the occasion; the same consumer can make very different choices depending on the time of day and what they are doing.

To better understand these occasion-based choices, and where there may be gaps between consumer needs and what the market offers, TNS Indonesia studied more than 4,000 consumers across Indonesia. What we found was quite surprising: the gaps in choice in snacking were almost the exact opposite of those in the drinks category.

In both categories, there is usually a tension between healthy options and indulgence. When something tastes great, it is generally considered unhealthy, and vice versa.

What we found was that while there are many healthy drinks options, there are very few beverages that are seen as indulgent, at least among branded ready-to-drink (RTD) drinks. In contrast, the snacking sector is packed with savories, biscuits and chocolates, which tend to skew towards indulgence but provide little for those seeking a healthy choice. The white space for snacking innovation is therefore around health.

Drink up
In recent years in Indonesia, beverages have largely become associated with health. In addition to fruit juices, which are seen as natural health boosters, there are milk options – seen as fortifiers – and functional drinks, such as isotonic, vitamin, energy, green bean and yoghurt drinks. These are all on top of bottled mineral water, which is one of the biggest drinks categories in the country. If you want a healthy drink in this market, you are spoilt for choice.

However, there is a clear gap in the market for indulgent ready-to-drink beverages, which are currently being provided by a mushrooming number of take-away counters, such as Cha Time and Bubble Tea.
There are two clear ‘need states’ regarding drinks that brands can potentially meet. The first is to provide sensorial indulgence. Consumers are craving multi-textural drinks that provide a range of experiences in each sip – refreshment, something to chew on and something that is slightly filling. Mogu Mogu is cashing in on this need gap, but there is still plenty of room for innovation in this space.

The second need state is one for a premium product that sends a social signal. Drinks that feel special and can make an impression in a social situation are an important area for brands to explore, particularly in a market where religious considerations mean many people avoid beer and other alcohol. The new brand Fayrouz has been launched into this need gap.

Food for thought
Snacking, by contrast, has been all about indulgence, and lately has become even more so. Consumers can choose between salty snacks, cheesy snacks and chocolaty snacks. Then there are biscuits, usually sweet and often multi-textural; almost always, indulgent.

The unmet need in this sector, then, is for healthy snacking options. Consumers still want their snacks to be tasty, but they are hungry for something that feels a little less indulgent.

This opportunity for brands to develop healthy snacks splits broadly into two areas. The first is snacks that are light and contain no ‘bad’ ingredients. Consumers want to enjoy good-tasting snacks, but want a health alibi to make them feel better about the choices they make. Lightness – as in baked snacks – low-calorie or no-cholesterol snacks would meet this need, but currently there is a dearth of such options in the Indonesian market. The other big potential growth area is in superfoods. These are healthy, tasty snacks taken as a food supplement for a healthy energy boost. Branded snacks in the superfood market – such as Fitbar healthy snack bars - are also up against fresh fruit, nuts and seeds. This segment is potentially large, and many need gaps remain to be filled.

Snack and beverage manufacturers that can successfully tap into these emerging need states, and provide solutions that fill need gaps, will be in a strong position to help future-proof their growth.