Healthy Snacks Are Boring Snacks

It is that time again, that hour right before lunch or midway through the afternoon, when you feel your stomach rumble. You get up, stretch, maybe grab another cup of coffee, but what you really want is something to eat, something quick to tide you over until your next meal. What you want is a snack.

If this sounds familiar you are not alone. Mintel reported in a recent survey that about two thirds of the population snack between meals. Of those Snackers, Mintel found that only 27% chow down on healthy foods. This is at direct odds with the National Research Center’s 2010 Consumer Report that stated that 90% of the population said they had a healthy diet. In their report, Mintel hypothesized that this discrepancy is due to the fact that the perception of what constitutes, as a healthy snack is highly subjective. Believe or not 9% of the population believes that cookies and potato chips count as healthy snacks. If only life was that simple.

For the rest of us, its not that we don’t know what a healthy snack is, it is that healthy snacking is just plain boring. Lets face it; the jelly donut from your favorite bakery is going to beat the bag of carrots you brought from home every time. If nothing else, the uptick in adult and childhood obesity shows that food companies need to change how they design and market healthy snacks from something we should eat to something that we want to eat.

While not selling snacks, Healthy Choice’s new ad campaign captures this idea perfectly. Last week the New York Times published an article that quoted Healthy Choice’s brand director, Jenn Freeman, explaining that they decided to focus on dieter’s pain because “consumers are telling us over and over again that they’re tired of dieting, tired of deprivation, tired of being irritable”.  It is the idea of deprivation that is key. Instead of feeling forced to eat something “healthy”, i.e. juice or drum sticks, people want to be able to have something that is as luxurious as a entire Chicken Margherita meal and have it be healthy too.

This idea of luxurious health applies to snacks as well. Consumers want to be able to snack on something that feels like a treat but is still healthy. That doesn’t mean you can go crazy marketing a line of healthy potato chips – the other 91% of us know better. However if you can find the right balance between healthy and decadence, then you will have found the sweet spot – literally.

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