Mobile Menu

Getting our fill of consumers’ thoughts about salty snack brands

Understanding how consumers feel about salty snack brands

Whether you need an accompaniment to your latest binge watch or a pick-me-up during a hectic day, salty snacks are a go-to for millions in the US. Ever wanted to know what people really think about their favorite snack brands? Relative Insight turned to social media analysis to find out.

This involved examining conversations around five of the biggest snack brands across the nation: Fritos, Funyuns, Lays, Cheetos and Ruffles. Relative Insight’s brand comparison sought to identify which of these salty snacks elicited the most varied reactions between audiences – then drilled down into the nature of these differences.

What did this entail? Contrasting how social audiences talked about Fritos and Funyuns in 50 minutes by using the Relative Insight text analysis platform to calculate the relative difference between the topics, words, phrases, grammar and emotions which featured in conversations about each product.

This application of text analysis uncovered some fascinating insights. Tweeters were 1.9x more likely to talk about eating Fritos with alcohol, with the word ‘whiskey’ overindexing 13.3x more in these discussions. Conversely, Funyuns were associated with getting high – people talked about recreational drugs 2.4x more when referencing the snack, indicating that it’s a perfect remedy for the munchies.

The methodology behind these insights, along with even more nuggets of information, can be found below. Interested in how you can use text data to analyze brand conversations? Book a discovery call with one of our experts.

Running a brand or competitor analysis using qualitative data has historically been extremely time consuming and prone to human bias. There’s also the question of where to start with any research.

Relative Insight Heatmaps helps insights teams solve both conundrums. Rather than trying to sort through over 100,000 tweets about the five different brands manually, we used the Relative Insight platform to create a Heatmap which visualized the commonalities and differences between each dataset – within 30 seconds of social data being uploaded to the tool.

A Relative Insight Heatmap showing that Ruffles was the most dissimilar of salty snack brands

This simple visualization makes it quick and easy to see that social conversations around Cheetos and Lays are most similar, with greater variations between Ruffles, Fritos and Funyuns.

Heatmaps enable insights teams to quickly decide where to focus their research. For competitor brand analysis, they could examine the nuances between rival brands most similar to them. However, when examining a cadre of products owned by the same company, which is true in this example, researchers may choose to direct their attention towards the brands with the greatest variation – to understand what resonates with different audiences.

Among the Frito-Lay salty snack brands in this example, Fritos and Funyuns were the two products with the biggest variations in social audience conversations – making for a fascinating point of analysis.

Pets 4.2x more likely to appear in Fritos discussions

The relationship between Fritos and alcohol wasn’t the only variation in how social audiences discussed the brands. The subject of pets overindexed hugely in conversations relating to Fritos.

This related to the snack’s odor, with consumers stating that they smelt like dog paws. They mentioned ‘dogs’ 7.1x more, and were 3.9x more likely to talk about the ‘smell’ of the product. While this seems like a negative, in many cases tweeters discussed it positively, with the link to pets bringing out happy memories and feelings.

When my dogs’ feet smell like Fritos? Phenomenal. Instant serotonin boost.

Audiences were also 13.4x more likely to highlight the variety of flavors on offer. They talked about ‘chilli cheese’ 32.2x more, referenced ‘BBQ’ Fritos 6.3x more and were even 9.1x more likely to talk about ‘plain’ Fritos.

Chilli Cheese Fritos are a gourmet food item. Don’t @ me.

Ingredients were also important to these tweeters. They were quick to reference the snack’s three key ingredients: Corn (6.2x), oil (8.6x) and salt (2.0x), praising the simplicity of the recipe.

Tobasco is the best. Such a pure simple sauce: peppers, salt, vinegar. That is it. The same reason Fritos are perfect: corn, salt, oil.

Salty snack consumers are addicted to Funyuns 2.3x more

A contributing factor for Funyuns being the snack of choice for recreational drug users is that people find them addictive and filling. Social audiences were 2.6x more likely to say that they had a ‘craving’ for Funyuns, while they also talked about eating the ‘whole bag’ 3.8x more. The word ‘want’ also appeared 2.0x more in their discussions, emphasizing the addictive nature of the snack.

@deadmoniker @clairefosterphd you, of course, had to smoke it with him so he could see the effect on others too, and by effect, I mean an insatiable urge to eat a whole bag of Funyuns.

While consumers preferred the variety of flavors offered by Fritos, people discussing Funyuns zeroed in on one particular flavor: Flamin’ Hot. They were 3.9x more likely to use words relating to ‘heat’ – signifying that hot Funyuns had more of an impact with consumers than equivalent hot Fritos flavors.

Who make the best hot chips? If you don’t say Funyuns you lying.

Rapidly understanding consumers’ views on snack brands

After scraping social media conversations by using a social listening tool, it took less than an hour to upload each of the five data sets to the platform, plot a Heatmap, identify a research area and uncover actionable insights into salty snack brands.

How actionable? Frito-Lay should look to focus Funyuns’ promotional efforts in states which have legalized recreational drug use, given the snack’s popularity among those getting high. The company should also focus on its Flamin’ Hot flavor and use messaging around the corn snack’s addictiveness.

For Fritos, the company should consider launching partnerships with owner PepsiCo’s newly launched alcoholic brands, given the number of consumers who already pair Fritos with alcohol. Emphasizing the variety of the snacks and the simplicity of the recipe will continue to insure the brand resonates with consumers. Finally, tapping into the positive association between the snack and people’s pets will reinforce positive sentiment towards Fritos.

Whether you’re benchmarking against competitors’ products or want to explore the nuances within consumers’ opinions on your own offering, using text analytics offers a rapid, insightful and cost-effect quantifiable process. Find out more by speaking to one of our team.

Understand what audiences really think about brands