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New Products Drive the Spanish Snacks Market

Wednesday, January 2, 2013
filed under: Utilization/Trade

Editor’s Note: The National Sunflower Association (NSA) continues to work with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) as a matching-dollar cooperator for purposes of foreign market development. NSA currently operates in five countries with an annual FAS allocation of about $1.5 million. Activities in Mexico, Spain, Turkey and Germany focus on confection sunflower in-shell seeds and kernel. The program in Canada is directed toward sunflower oil.

The following article is the third in a series discussing NSA foreign market development efforts. Spain is the largest market for U.S. confection sunflower in-shell seeds and a growing market for confection sunflower kernel. NSA promotes U.S. confection sunflower in-shell and kernels to consumers who prefer roasted and salty products by highlighting positive aspects of health, taste and cost advantages compared to other snacks. NSA also works in partnership with snack food processors using a point-of-sale campaign to generate sales opportunities.

In 2012/13, we expect U.S. export volume, value and market share to remain generally consistent with the prior marketing year due to the current recession and the economic uncertainty in that country surrounding the coming months. Exports are expected to rebound and continue growing in future marketing years due to an increase in confection sunflower production in the U.S. and recovery of the Spanish economy.

This article was written by Paula Entwistle of Ketchum Pleon PR Agency in Madrid and director of the NSA promotions program in Spain.

To set a context for the current situation, Spain is submerged in the worst economic crisis since probably the civil war back in 1939. Despite this, it’s interesting to note and highlight that the food industry in general and the snack industry in particular are not sectors that have been as damaged as other important industries such as the auto industry and other manufacturing sectors.

In the previous marketing year, a budget of nearly $600,000 was utilized in Spain to focus on the consumer and the snack industry to promote both in-shell and kernel sunflower through media advertisements, in-store promotions, point-of-sale materials, and press releases. Trade shows in Spain are also a way to reach snack food manufacturers and bakery suppliers with our message.

According to a recent analysis published in a Spanish-based food trade magazine, potato chips and other popular snacks such as in-shell sunflower seeds account for 45% of snacks consumption in Spain, a market that managed to end 2011 with global growth in terms of both value and volume.

To get a feel for the Spanish consumer audience, it’s important to understand the cultural settings in which most consumers are likely to choose sunflower seeds as a snacking option. In Spain, snacks have always played an important role as a socializing element, as they are consumed during gatherings with friends and family. The defining characteristics of consumption in Spain are as follows:

On the one hand, 90% of Spaniards over 15 years old consume snacks, with a higher ratio for women (91%) than for men (88%). On the other, half of snack consumers are over 25 — although from the age of 64 upwards, interest in snacking at social events and get-togethers diminishes. Moreover, the regions where most snacks are consumed have a warmer climate. More than 70% of the population eats snacks at least once a week.

According to data from the Spanish snack manufacturers association, Spanish consumers believe that the best occasions to eat snacks are in the company of friends and/or family. This shows that snacks play an important role as a socializing vehicle during leisure time. One of the leisure occasions when Spaniards consume most snacks is during major sports events, especially soccer matches.

This fact has led the National Sunflower Association and the Ketchum Pleon PR Agency to lead a campaign in Spain targeting young adults to socialize in “real life” or in person with their friends, avoiding so much on-line chatting and socializing via computer screen or other electronic device. The campaign’s objective is to get these snackers to consider sunflower seeds, or “pipas” as they are called in Spain.

The campaign is multi-branded, with the goal of promoting all current U.S. confection sunflower seed buyers (Spanish snack brands). All the ads feature their logos as to not favor one brand over another.

Another characteristic of our ad campaign in Spain is that it does not call for a one-brand sort of message; instead, the copy appeals to eating sunflower seeds as a pastime activity. The main objectives of the message is to identify pipas as a “fun snack;” to address new consumers’ online entertaining behaviors; and to position pipas in front of a real-life socializer. We also work to identify which brands are selling U.S. sunflower seeds and drive roasters’ sales and brand recognition.

A major avenue for reaching the primary snacking group in Spain (young adults) is to address new leisure and social venues such as social media. The interaction-social media realm reaches an increasing number of consumers of all ages engaging in digital activities for work, fun and educational purposes.

With teenagers, a significant amount of hours are invested on socializing online. Sociologically speaking, we have moved from phone conversation habits to on-screen photo/comments and chats. So during the past two years, we have initiated a significant effort to position pipas “out front” of young adults as the real-life socializer. This is rooted in new consumers’ leisure time activity, which is increasingly devoted to chatting and relating to peers through online social networks such as the worldwide medium of Facebook (or Spanish-based “tuenti”) for young adults aged 13-25.

During 2012 we launched a campaign called “yo.pipeo” — oriented to teenagers, including all brands that purchase U.S. confection seeds. The language in the ads can be translated to: “Create your own real life network with your people and your favorite pipas brands.” A series of creative pieces ran with messages reinforcing why it’s important to do real life socializing highlighting how emotional, interesting and highly rewarding it really is to meet with our friends in person. One ad message translates to, “yo.pipeo - the network where you really know who your friends (really) are.”

Through these types of advertisements and promotions, NSA uses a diversified media relations awareness campaign focusing on nutrition and health benefits to drive increased sales with consumers. We also provide market information and resources to snack food processors to promote positive characteristics of U.S. confection in-shell and kernel snacks. With these efforts, pipas continue to be a very viable snack choice for Spaniards.
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