Why snacking is big business in Asia and what it means for snack brands

Big snacking is big business in Asia. Munching will be worth over $500 billion by the end of 2021. In Indonesia alone—a country of 270 million—sales of confectionery and snacks is set to grow by over 4% annually through 2025. Given this growth, what opportunities are there for foreign snack brands? What do local consumers want and how can brands meet this growing demand?

What do consumers like?

Like other regions, Asia encompasses a diverse array of culinary cultures. Still one common strain across Asian cuisines is the great attention given to the texture of food. In China, for example, dishes including tendons cartilage, and other ingredients rarely found in many cuisines in other regions, are incredibly popular. Crunchy shrimp crackers, crispy fish skin, and soft and chewy spiced chicken feet are common favorites. So, snacks that deliver a good or interesting texture—in addition to enjoyable flavors—are going to be particularly attractive in many markets in the region.

How can foreign snack brands succeed?

Foreign snacks brands do not need to copy local favorites to succeed. They will be competing on price with local brands that have a strong intuitive understanding of what makes for a tasty local favorite—a tall task that may leave many brands feeling salty.

As a foreign brand, it is far better to focus on what you make best and simply give it a local twist. Lays, for example, offers seaweed, tomato, and barbecue (using a popular local seasoning mix) flavored chips in Chinese-speaking markets. Oreo offers its trademark cookie sandwiches with less sugar and filled with matcha or jasmine flavored cream in addition to its traditional offerings.

These are all big hits and great examples of how brands big and small can bridge the gap between what is popular in their home market and what will be a hit in Asia while retaining the uniqueness and authenticity that will attract local snackers and set them apart from the competition.

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