2021 Category Captain for Alternative Snacks: Link Snacks

The company invested in research and insights to help its customers navigate the pandemic.

Link Snacks kept its customers close, even if they met more on a virtual level. With sales drastically shifting, especially during March and April of 2020, many retailers wanted to analyze data not just against a year ago, but also to pre-COVID and post-COVID results. Link Snacks invested in research and insights to examine its product and consumers in c-stores, not just in the main ambient location within the store, but also on the complete refrigerated protein snacking set.

Consumers' shopping habits within convenience stores shifted drastically in 2020. The morning daypart was (and still is) being disrupted, with many people working from home and no longer making morning commutes. Nevertheless, consumers still utilized convenience stores for their fill-in trips or as a lunchtime option. Meat snacks proved to be a popular snack and meal replacement option as dollar sales increased 11 percent in 2020 while other center-store categories struggled.

One important thing Link Snacks learned during the pandemic was that consumers were trading up to value-sized options not only in jerky, but also for resealable multipack stick offerings. Most unwrapped/bulk jerky was discontinued or put on hold for the early parts of the pandemic. As consumers shifted their spending from foodservice to fresh wrapped items, Link Snacks helped retailers with data-driven insights to ensure the best assortment in their refrigerated cases. Refrigerated meat snack dollars grew 16.7 percent in 2020, and Jack Link’s Cold Crafted brand grew 48.6 percent.

This Category Captain also helped many retailers move forward with larger projects, such as increasing their main location of meat snacks, adding secondary placements throughout the store, and creating queueing lines to help direct customer flow to these products.

In these times, many consumers have shifted back to the brands they know, trust and value. Jack Link’s claimed the third-largest snacking brand in center-store convenience in 2020 with 10.2 percent dollar growth. Link Snacks continues to be a trusted source, bringing multiple data sources and platforms to deliver insights to help retailers have the best assortments and stay ahead of the unknowns.