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01/28/2021

5 Questions with Frito-Lay CCO Mike Del Pozzo on its Snacking Super Bowl

Alarice Rajagopal
Senior Editor
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As NFL players and fans everywhere prepare for Super Bowl Sunday, Frito-Lay is also preparing for its own Super Bowl of sorts, as it readies for the biggest snacking holiday of the year.

So, how does this CG snack brand start? CGT caught up with Mike Del Pozzo, chief customer officer of Frito-Lay North America, to find out. But first, it all begins with data.

Frito-Lay recently released its U.S. Snack Index, a poll focused on consumers’ snacking habits. It found that while celebrations will look different this year with smaller gatherings, American snacking will continue to increase by more than 40%. Additionally, with eight in 10 Americans planning to tune in, the snack brand is anticipating a 21% increase in snacking during this year’s Super Bowl compared to Super Bowl LIV.

Snack consumption has seen a significant uptick since the onset of the pandemic. With 50% of consumers saying they look forward to eating the snacks they love but don't eat every day during the Super Bowl, Frito-Lay is preparing to meet increased demand — producing more than 70 million pounds of snacks in the week leading up to the game.

Potato chips are generally the top snack of choice, but during the Super Bowl, 68% of adults agree that chips and dip are the Super Bowl snacking must-have.

Some additional market trends and U.S. Snack Index highlights show:

  • Super Bowl shopping is shifting.
  • Americans are stocking up on snacks earlier, with 86% planning to shop for the Super Bowl during the week leading up to game day.
  • But not everyone is as prepared, with 25% of consumers expected to shop just six hours before kickoff.
  • Overall, two-thirds of consumers plan on picking up their game day snacks from the grocery store; however, 10% of people plan to shop online for delivery.

Del Pozzo leads the sales and commercial function overseeing strategy, sales planning, customer supply chain and commercialization for Frito-Lay’s U.S. customer sales organizations, with responsibility for retail, e-commerce and food service businesses of approximately $17B annually. Here, we ask him five questions around the people, process and technologies that help the PepsiCo brand keep up with consumers.

CGT: With data showing smaller gatherings and more snacking, what is Frito-Lay doing to adjust to this increased demand?

Del Pozzo: The Super Bowl is typically the biggest snacking holiday of the year, but with more consumers snacking at home during the pandemic, we have continued to build inventory across the system to be ready for elevated demand between Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl.

From our supply chain to sales, we spend weeks leading up to the Super Bowl preparing to meet this increased consumer demand — producing 70 million pounds of snacks the week leading into Feb. 7 — up 2% from Super Bowl LIV.

We’ve also increased staffing levels across the supply chain to ensure we’re able to meet heightened demand and have continued to invest in our supply chain capabilities by adding new production capacity to allow us to produce more product.

CGT: Are there any technologies that will help Frito-Lay prepare for this shift?

Del Pozzo: In an effort to always be everywhere, we’re constantly looking for new channels to glean insights on consumer shopping behaviors and test new ways to directly engage with them. One example of this is the launch of our first direct-to-consumer platform, Snacks.com, which we launched in just 30 days as a way to serve our consumers online in this changing environment. That said, our primary goal with Snacks.com is to gather consumer insights that we can leverage to drive business with our DTC retail partners.

Additionally, our overall direct store delivery model continues to be critical to ensure product is where consumers are shopping as store demand has reached record levels.

From a retailer standpoint, our omnichannel strategy is helping to keep up with demand so consumers can purchase their favorite snacks in store, online or curbside.

CGT: Many CG brands are shifting marketing strategies for Super Bowl this year to adjust to consumer demands; has this been the case for Frito-Lay as well? What are some of the marketing strategies or technologies being used to reach consumers?

Del Pozzo: We’ve increased our in-store presence by 60% to create multiple points of interruption during the shopping experience, in an effort to drive trial and impulse purchases.

Frito-Lay also continues to find white spaces to bring our brands directly to consumers. For example, we’re partnering with unconventional categories that are growing in the takeout/delivery space, like spirits, to deliver our products directly to consumers.

On Super Bowl Sunday, Frito-Lay will have its broadest presence to date with three brand campaigns for the first time ever. Doritos and Cheetos will have in-game advertisements, while Frito-Lay will also air a commercial promoting multiple brands from the portfolio during the pre-game broadcast directly before kickoff.

CGT: In looking at the Index data, what trends will stick going forward when it comes to snacking and the Super Bowl?

Del Pozzo: Frito-Lay has seen sales of new innovation increase 19% over the last year, indicating consumers want to try something new and value variety.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, we also learned a lot early on through data and insights. Consumers are seeking value and their shopping habits have shifted. They’re making fewer trips and shopping on different days with less impulse buying. By leveraging these insights and operating with a consumer-centric mindset, we’re able to prepare and make the right investments for the future.

With consumers eating more at home, we are seeing people use our products in their own recipes or to accompany their meals. For example, our unflavored tortilla chips have helped elevate the recipes they’re making and buying additional dips and sides to accompany at-home snacking. 

CGT: It was also found that some consumers are expecting to try new products. Does Frito-Lay have any plans to introduce new products, flavors, etc.?

Del Pozzo: Consumer insights drive our innovation, which reinforces our leadership position across the snack industry and keeps us in 94% of consumer households.

The Super Bowl is a big time for innovation at Frito-Lay. For example, Cheetos just released its new Crunch Pop Mix — a cheesy combination of traditional Cheetos Crunchy and the popular Cheetos Popcorn introduced during last year’s Super Bowl.

We also recently announced the launch of Doritos 3D Crunch, a revamped version of the original Doritos 3Ds introduced in the late 1990s. Since the originals came off shelves in the early 2000s, we’ve received a lot of consumer feedback asking for it to return.

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen that consumers are looking for both the traditional flavors they love and are looking for variety. We have a robust consumer insights team that is constantly looking for what new snacks and flavors our consumers are looking for to inform the innovation decisions we make.

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