Sweet or savoury biscuits enjoy near universal appeal in India, now latest research from Mintel reveals how immunity-boosting ingredients are set to drive value growth in these times of heightened health consciousness.
Mintel reveals that in the last six months, almost two-thirds (63%)* of Indian consumers have eaten healthy biscuits such as multigrain, high-fibre, light and low/no sugar varieties which are traditionally viewed as an affordable source of energy and nutrition in India.
Even before the pandemic, Mintel research highlighted that almost one-third (30%) of consumers said they find biscuits/cookies that improve immunity to be appealing. This number goes up to 41% for consumers in the South and 35% among consumers aged 25-34 across India. Other health related biscuit features that appeal to Indian consumers are energy-boosting (36%) and balanced nutrition (33%).
Rushikesh Aravkar, Food & Drink Analyst, Mintel India, said: “The spread of COVID-19 has prompted Indian consumers to proactively seek preventive healthcare and prioritise immune health. While energy and nutrition needs are being addressed by biscuit brands through on-pack claims and messaging and marketing communications, immunity-boosting credentials remains a white space opportunity. For example, there is potential for biscuit manufacturers to use whole grains in biscuits and then link them to a healthier gut and better immune response to appeal to consumers. With the Indian government underscoring the importance of strong immunity and promoting Ayurveda, there is also potential for biscuits brands to use Indian consumers' familiarity with immunity-related herbs and spices such as ginger, turmeric, holy basil and ashwagandha that are commonly found in Indian kitchens to help improve immunity.”
Balancing taste and health
While healthy credentials offer huge potential, taste is a challenge. Mintel research highlights that one quarter (25%) of Indians say healthy biscuits are tasteless and this rises to 28% among existing users of healthy biscuit users, compared to 18% of non-users. Moreover, for almost a quarter (23%) of consumers taste is more important than health when eating biscuits.
“The biscuits category has been resilient to the pandemic and has shown quick recovery. Companies and brands that offer better-for-you innovations will drive value growth; balancing health and indulgence is the key.
“The general perception that healthy biscuits are tasteless is more prominent among existing users of healthy biscuits and needs to be addressed by biscuit makers. Without compromising on taste, biscuit brands need to incorporate healthy ingredients and provide health benefits to drive purposeful consumption. This will encourage health-conscious consumers to engage with the category more often. Brands need to make efforts to change this perception by adding a tinge of indulgence to healthy biscuits,” Rushikesh adds.
Gen Z love indulgent biscuits
Mintel research reveals that 86% of Indians have eaten biscuits at least once a week. Amongst these, salted biscuits/crackers (74%), Marie (69%) and glucose (65%) biscuits are the most consumed varieties in India. Moreover, the popularity of biscuits varies by region. While glucose and salted biscuits are favourite in North (82%) and West (78%) India, Marie biscuits are most popular in the South (75%) and East (79%).
What’s more, unlike older Indian consumers, Gen Z (aged 18-24) love eating indulgent biscuits like cream biscuits, cookies and cream wafers. Mintel research highlights that 83% of Gen Z consumers have eaten these biscuits in the past six months, compared to just 59% of consumers aged 55+.
Key to the success of the biscuit category, Gen Z’s love of biscuits is confirmed by the fact that half (48%) of consumers aged 18-24 eat seven or more biscuit types.
“While generations in the past have grown up eating and appreciating glucose biscuits, these humble products are not as popular among Gen Z as among older consumers.
“Younger consumers are adventurous; they seek newness and are carefree, though they may not be as loyal to the biscuit category as their older counterparts. Younger Indians eat a wider variety of biscuit products and are potentially key targets for brand extension and product trial. Offering higher indulgence is an opportunity for biscuit makers to engage with the younger generation and retain their loyalty. Indulgent biscuit innovations targeted at Gen Z will help keep these consumers engaged with the category as they grow older,” concludes Rushikesh.
*3000 Indians consumers aged 18+, March 2020.
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