A look at shifting consumer behavior,
interesting product introductions,
growing segments and potential target markets.

A recent study by Mintel International revealed valuable information about consumer choices within the $5.2 billion cookie and cookie bar market. While the overall market remains flat, ethnic flavors such as dulche de leche are one bright spot. Brands such as PepsiCo’s Gamesa, targeted at Hispanics, have helped offset sluggish overall sales, as has the continuing success of 100-calorie packs. The study also showed that adults from 18 – 44 enjoy trying new types, flavors and brands of cookies and are a key category to target. Read on to discover more helpful data and insights.

The Market

Each segment in the cookie and cookie bar market experienced a decline except private label, which increased 2.3 percent. Standard cookies comprise more than half of the market. The healthy cookies segment is leveling off as consumers report they are more likely to eat fewer cookies than to buy healthy versions. Losses in the premium and healthy cookie segments are partially offset by a consumer shift to private-label offerings.


 Key Points

• Revenue through food, drug and mass merchants dropped 1.4 percent between 2006 and 2008.

• The healthy cookies segment—which experienced 25 percent growth between 2003 and 2005 due to the success of 100-calorie packs, low-sugar and organic cookies—has started to wane.

• Consumers are beginning to turn to more cost-effective and high-quality private-label cookies.

• The cookie bar segment dropped 15 percent between 2006 and 2008. This segment is not well understood in the marketplace.


The Consumer Types of Cookies Survey
Type of Cookies Eaten in Household, February 2007-­March 2008
Base: 18,601 adults aged 18+ whose household eats ready-to-eat cookies

Sandwich, soft chocolate chip and vanilla wafers are the most popular types of  cookies in the U.S. Vanilla wafers are most common in Black and Hispanic households; Asian households prefer crunchy chocolate chip cookies.
Key Points
• About three in four adults bought pre-packaged cookies in the past month, by far the most of any cookie form.

• Fifty-eight percent of respondents eat cookies less than once a week. Consumption is highest for over-65s.

• Adults aged 18 – 44 are very interested in trying new cookie types and flavors, but interest fades after age 45.
• Women are somewhat more likely than men to experiment with types, flavors and brands.

• Under-45s are significantly more likely than over-45s to buy fresh-baked cookies or pre-made dough.

• Half of adults aged 18 – 24 binge on sweets, snack a lot and buy the cookies they like the best rather than the healthiest choice. This makes this segment an ideal target market for cookies.

New Products
Health and Other Attributes of Interest to Cookie Buyers by Gender, August 2008
Base: 1,870 adults aged 18+ who eat cookies

Consumers don¹t count healthfulness as a major consideration when choosing cookies. Further research shows that even among older consumers, only a few attributes (low cholesterol and type of sweetener used) seem to carry any weight. Women are slightly more likely (19 percent) than men (13 percent) to consider the type of sweetener used. Women are also more interested in the 100-calorie and individually wrapped packaging options. The 100-calorie packs are also popular with 18 - 24 year olds.


Key Points
• Chocolate remains the top flavor in cookie launches. Unflavored/Plain, Not Specified, Vanilla, Dark Chocolate, Fudge, Peanut Butter, Lemon, Cinnamon and Butter round out the top ten flavors.

• According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD), there have been 95 cookie products launched with new packaging from January 1 to October 6, 2008, compared to 80 products in all of 2007.

• Between 2003 and 2008, there were nearly 2,800 product variants introduced that made a claim. The claim made most often was kosher, followed by low/no/reduced trans fat and seasonal.
• Two claims saw drop-offs: low/no/reduced sugar and no additives/preservatives. The former is most likely the result of a drop in interest in the low-carb diet. The latter is possibly due to a shift to organic or all-natural claims.