“Even as snack and nutritional bars take on product attributes from each other and attempt to provide a range of attributes within a single product or brand, brands have an opportunity to stand out from their competitors by maintaining focus on a singular use. For example, energy bars can be just that and not strive to also be snack foods and meal supplements. Similarly, organic brands can build on that attribute to be distinct from other brands, rather than also trying to be small indulgences. Consumers know what they want and may be skeptical of brands that try to be too many things to too many people.”
– Marla Commons, Vice President of Research, Mintel Reports
Some questions answered in this report include:
- Is the line blurring between segments hurting brand potential to stand out?
- Is occasion-specific marketing still a powerful message?
- How can cereal bars reverse the downward sales trend?
- How can marketers reach Hispanic moms?
The US snack and nutritional bar market is forecast to grow slowly in the coming years, as the top segment—cereal and snack bars—declines and the nutritional bar segment grows rapidly but not enough to speed up overall market sales. The market is driven by demand for healthy foods, which likely hurts sales of many cereal and snack bar brands, as many contain high levels of sugar, but spurs sales of nutritional bars, which are perceived as healthier than snack and cereal bars. The growing snacking trend is also driving sales, as consumers lead busier lives and look for food products that conveniently hold them over between or occasionally take the place of meals, or provide them with a minor indulgence.
This report focuses on these factors, as well as the following: how demographic factors play into sales how the nutritional bar segment is outpacing growth in the cereal/snack bar segment the top companies in the market and their advertising and product development strategies innovations in the market, including focus on all-natural, whole grain, gluten-free, and indulgent product trends consumer buying behaviors, including their attitudes toward snack and nutritional bars, desired product attributes, and reasons for not buying snack and nutritional bars.
For the purposes of this report, snack and nutritional bars are covered as per the following definitions:
- cereal and snack bars, such as Nutri-Grain; and granola bars, such as Nature Valley health/nutrition bars, including food bars that contain additional nutrients, such as fiber, protein, calcium, etc;
- bars meant for diet and weight loss/weight management, such as Slim-Fast and Zone bars;
- athletic bars used for fuel during athletic endeavors or to enhance physical fitness or exercise, such as PowerBar.
Excluded from this report are cookie/cake bars, nut-based confectionery bars, and other sugar confectionery.