Lay's Wavy

US: The chocolate-covered potato chip is going mainstream with Lay’s

The world’s largest snack maker is widening its own market by mixing sweet with salty in its snacks – and is rolling out chocolate-covered Lay’s Wavy chips for the American year-end holidays.

For Lay’s, it’s all about growing beyond the constraints of the salty snack. There are, after all, growing consumer demands for flavour mash-ups. And others want to snack healthier. Even then, snack foods are a $31-billion market — and growing, reports IBISWorld, the market research specialist.

At $3.49 for a 141g bag, the Lay’s Wavy dipped in chocolate is just the latest in a flood of sweet and salty products that have caught the national taste bud in the past few years, from ice-cream stuffed with pretzels to pretzels coated with chocolate.

The chocolate-covered chip also ties in with a flood of seasonal, limited-time-only snacks that increasingly hit the market between Halloween and New Year’s. And both trends tie in to a third even larger trend: the overall increase in snacking. Some 43% of consumers now snack three to four times daily vs. 24% in 2009, according to Symphony IRI, the research specialist.

“Flavours are getting more sophisticated and complex,” says Tom Vierhile, innovation insights director at DataMonitor, the consumer products research firm. “We are seeing more products that may pair traditional flavour opposites” like sweet and salty, he says.

Because the move into sweet snacks is still unusual for a salty snack giant like Lay’s, the rollout will be limited on two counts. The chocolate-dipped chips will be sold only at Target stores. At the same time, the initial test is for limited-time-only distribution to stretch through the holidays.

But if the chip is a major hit, it could ultimately become permanent, says Ram Krishnan, vice president of marketing at Frito-Lay.

“When you try something drastically different, you have to walk before you can run,” says Krishnan. “We wanted to test our way through this before we go big.”….

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