snack foods

The party snacks industry is very competitive as brands spend hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising each year. Brands need to position themselves in front of party planners in the right way, at the right time. In 2012, PepsiCo increased its advertising and marketing by 35%, with a focus on brands like Frito-Lay, Doritos and the Cracker Jack Popcorn product line, which tie inherently with celebrations such as birthday and graduation parties, Halloween, Christmas, and more.

Party snack brands can cut through this stiff competition by targeting the celebrations industry with its $38 billion network of party hosts. Brands that aim to attract a party planner who needs to purchase snacks for a birthday party, holiday celebration or other milestone event will benefit greatly because there’s always another reason to celebrate.

To target party hosts, snack marketers must understand and connect with the audience that’s doing the purchasing for the party and give them a compelling reason to choose their brand. Here are six specific strategies for brands to get their snack foods invited to the party:

1. Understand Party Planning Schedules

Great celebrations that are well thought out are usually planned in 4–6 weeks. Hosts research many of their decisions and purchases in advance. Today’s modern party host relies on the internet to plan much of her party. She combs through blogs, websites, social media, and more looking for time-saving tips, recipes and creative DIY party ideas. The date and venue for the event are the first steps in the planning process, followed by invitations. Then hosts move on to the details like decorations, favors and menu planning. A survey by Punchbowl found that 63% of hosts buy party snacks the week of the event and 21% buy them the day before the event.

2. Provide Value To Hosts

Hosts have a lot on their plate (pun intended) and even the best party host can be overwhelmed with the details of planning a celebration. But party hosts need your products and they need your expertise. A great way for snack brands to create brand loyal customers is by offering tips and advice to help make their planning efforts easier. Tell them what to buy for certain occasions and how much they need. Tell them how to best serve and present your product. Give them creative, but easy, recipes that they can make for their event. And do it in a way that makes the host look creative and thoughtful.

3. Present Creative Ideas Visually

Great presentation adds a ‘wow’ factor to the party, especially when it comes to snacks, but it can be a burden for hosts to come up with new and different presentation ideas. Use your brand’s social media pages, like Pinterest, to show hosts interesting alternatives to organize party snacks that present the food in a festive way. These ideas inspire hosts to carry out these suggestions and will be thankful you did the creative legwork for them.

4. Offer Pre-Packaged Party Packs

If it’s not clear already, hosts have a lot to think about. One way to make their lives easier is to offer a pre-packaged party pack with several of you top party snacks wrapped up in a tidy, convenient bundle for a host to grab at a moment’s notice. This offers the host a way to get everything she needs at once and it gives brands the opportunity to include some of the more popular snack brands alongside newer flavor combinations you’d like to get in front of a larger audience.

5. Find Specific Online Publishers

Targeted online marketing that directly reaches party hosts is often a much more efficient and effective use of marketing dollars. How can your brand do this? Find websites where hosts go to look for party planning solutions, whether it’s ideas and inspiration, online invitations, or menu planning specifically for parties., for example, is the leading site for start to finish party planning and has partnered with leading brands to help them reach hosts at the beginning of the party planning process when hosts come to kick-off their planning with a digital invitation. At that time the host knows the date of the event and often where it will be hosted but other details, like the menu, drinks, and favors are still up in the air. This gives our partners the opportunity to increase brand awareness with party hosts at exactly the right time.

6. Target Guests By Holiday or Event

On the surface reaching guests seems like a challenge. You need to know who is invited to a party and when it will be hosted. During peak party seasons like Halloween, Christmas or the Super Bowl the likelihood of receiving a party invitation is higher. However for events like birthday parties, it’s not as cut and dry. Sites like Punchbowl help brands reach not only the hosts but also their very important guests and target them with specific messaging.

For party snack brands to excel in this market, you need to create a targeted, creative marketing plan that connects with party planners and helps them look good while simultaneously presenting your brand as an expert in the industry. Learn more in the free white paper, “Mix & Mingle: 15 Ways Snack Brands Can Be the Life of the Party.”