Corona Tracking - Wave 1: How the pandemic influenced the sweets & snacks industry

In order to get a representative overview of the economic impact of the current crisis on the Belgian market, Serviceplan Group conducts a biweekly survey with 600 respondents aged between 18 and 69 years old, spread over 4 waves, in collaboration with PUB. While there is a clear general trend of stagnation and watchfulness, the results of the first wave revealed a surprising increase in sales for one sector in particular: sweets & snacks.


With a staggering 22% of respondents indicating that they purchase more products within this category since the Corona measures, the sector finishes in second place regarding the number of more active buyers, right behind daily groceries. In other words, there are definitely options to dive into as a brand. Let’s take a closer look at the group of buyers who have increased their purchases within the category.

Rising above the average

A lot of parameters come into play when analyzing the current success of the Sweets & Snacks category, which ranges from cookies and crackers to chocolate and candy, but one of the first elements to catch the eye is that the majority of buyers consists of the younger population, aged between 18 and 39 years old. As a matter of fact, over half of the buyers are full-time workers (51%) while students make up 14%. Also noteworthy are the increased purchases amongst those temporarily laid off, self-employed or on maternity or paternity leave, each of those rising above the respective average of all brand categories. Looking at gender, there is not much to split between men and women, with each floating around the 50% mark. On a geographical level, the three hotspots are Antwerp (20%), Brussels (13%) and Liège (11%), with the sector once again beating the average for each of those locations.

However, following the overall trend of the survey and in line with the general decline in brand loyalty, merely 34% of respondents is influenced by a brand name. Simply put, if you want to benefit from the increased sales in this category, you will need more touchpoints, for which we highly recommend shifting your focus to the qualitative aspects of your brand. The reason for that recommendation can be found by taking a look at what the group of increased buyers indicated elsewhere in the survey. It is highly notable that this group has high demands with regards to quality and price of the products they buy. Both aspects weigh more heavily on their decisions in relation to the Belgian average, with 88% attaching importance to quality and 86% looking closely at prices. Moreover, a third of them position themselves as optimistic within the current national situation. That places them above the nationwide average once more, which should be kept in mind regarding the tone of voice of your brand communication.

Last but not least, the group indicated that they have increased their usage of online news, TV news, Facebook, search engines, Youtube and gaming apps. This increase in media usage and consumption paves the way for online interactions between you and your targeted audience. Keep in mind that almost 63% of respondents keeps buying their sweets & snacks in stores, as opposed to 6% buying exclusively online. That does leave a group of 31% spreading their purchases between online and offline.

The one average they couldn’t beat

Of course, the survey brought out other statistics. With a percentage of 55%, over half of the respondents claim to notice no changes in their purchase behavior, meaning your target audience could possibly even expand and tap into this pool of the population. That leaves 4,5% of respondents who indicated that they don’t usually purchase articles from the category and, more interestingly, 18% of respondents with a decreased level of purchasing, positioning the category in the bottom half regarding decreasing sales. Looks like the average doesn’t have to be beaten on every front.

In short, the sweets & snacks industry is bursting with opportunities to interact with the clients, both online and offline. While we advise every brand to use these times to invest in latent brand equity, that might be especially the case for brands within this category. If you have what it takes to turn the current circumstances into business opportunities, you might just see your brand rise above the averages.

More results

The full results will be analyzed on the 4th of June. Serviceplan and PUB will host a livestream starting at 15:00, featuring a wide array of speakers, including Joseph Jaffe, co-founder of HMS Beagle and seasoned speaker on marketing, innovation and change. Do you already have questions surrounding these results or are you interested in the results of other categories? Contact Serviceplan Group on and we will gladly arrange a call. We are available on Teams, Zoom, Skype, Messenger, WhatsApp, GoToMeeting, FaceTime and Whereby. Oh, and by phone as well!


Join our Live Streaming and discover the results of our Corona-tracking.

Thursday 4/06 15:00 to 16:00 on all our social media channels.

Don’t miss out on Joseph Jaffe’s advice!

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