Purpose, Strategy & Culture

Sweet and Salty Snacks in a Post-Vaccine World

The Hershey Company
  • As consumers emerge in a post-vaccine world, favorite at-home behaviors such as movie nights, self-care and enjoying the outdoors continue as rituals.

  • Sweet and salty snacks are an ideal pairing for time spent at home.

  • Sweet treats are a “helpful” way to break routine and stress during change and transition.

The pandemic had a drastic impact on all of our lives and has resulted in some changes to consumers’ priorities, behaviors and desires. COVID has led many consumers to place greater value on self-care with many viewing the practice as essential to good health, happiness and productivity.

Plus, more time at home has given many consumers a greater appreciation for the outdoors. According to insights uncovered in a survey by our Consumer Insights team, they feel more comfortable being outdoors now than they did earlier in the pandemic.

We dug into these topics as part of our ongoing consumer insights research at Hershey. Here’s a look at what came through in the data, especially when it comes to the role that sweet treats and salty snacks play in these trending consumer interests during changing times.

Self-care continues to be important

People define self-care in different ways, but it comes down to activities that support overall wellness (including both mental and physical health). Eighty percent of consumers surveyed about self-care had engaged in self-care activities in the past year, and 92 percent of consumers in that group reported that they engage in self-care at least once a week.1

“When I hear the term ‘self-care’ I think of how someone takes time for themselves whether by physical, mental or emotional care,” one consumer told us of how she defines the buzz word. “When I think of it personally, I think of how much I sleep and how physically active I am. I also value the time I spend with myself and take breaks from what I need to do.”

Another told us “it means doing things that are only for me and my mental, physical or emotional self. This is anything that allows me to focus on myself and not create stress, so taking a bath or cuddling with a pet, watching a movie, etc.”

The stress of the pandemic inspired new forms of self-care for some consumers—such as at-home workouts or hobbies like puzzling or crafts. It also supported more continued forms of pre-pandemic self-care, such as watching TV/movies or eating sweet treats like chocolate or salty snacks. In fact, 35 percent of consumers surveyed agreed that practicing self-care includes enjoying sweet treats/indulgences.

Candies and other sweet treats play many different roles in consumers’ self-care experiences—ranging from a reward (for making progress toward a goal or completing a task) to being an instant mood lifter or a source of comfort on rough days. Sweet treats can also make everyday moments more luxurious, be a way to indulge in moderation or help consumers break out of monotony. (As one consumer told us, “sweet treats have been very helpful as a way to break the routine and stress of the situations we are living in every day.”) Salty snacks, meanwhile, can be an ideal pick-me-up during stressful parts of the day; a way to satisfy salty/crunchy cravings; a way to feel more satisfied; or simply a favorite snack that consumers enjoy on a regular basis.

Essentially, self-care is about being good to yourself (and 40 percent of consumers surveyed are practicing self-care more often than they did prior to COVID-19). Making moments of goodness with our consumers, big and small, is what we aim to do!

Outdoor enthusiasts are getting out there

For some people, getting outside is its own form of self-care! According to insights from a separate Consumer Insights survey,2 outdoor enthusiasts have been itching to get out of the house and create fun summer memories with friends and family to make up for time lost last summer.

Forty-two percent of outdoor enthusiasts surveyed plan to visit a national, state, or local park in the coming months. Thirty-three percent plan to camp or have a backyard campout, and 50 percent plan to have a picnic outdoors.

“I’m looking forward to picnicking and swimming. These are sort of traditions,” one consumer told us. “I could not do any of these things last summer because the pandemic closed most of the nearby parks. I am looking forward to doing these things because I love being outdoors with my family.”

“We are looking forward to swimming and fishing,” said another. “ We are also looking forward to roasting s’mores and other campfire recipes. We didn’t do this last summer since we usually go camping with other families outside of our household.”

Being stuck at home for months has made outdoor enthusiasts appreciate being outdoors more than ever. And from simply firing up the grill with friends to spending hours wandering around local or national parks, snacks are an important component of the outdoor experience.

Of course, outdoor snacking has its limitations. (There’s a little too much melting for our chocolate to go along on hot hiking trips, for example.) But there’s a lot of room for Hershey treats to accompany the outdoor summer fun: Snack bars—like our ONE Bars or Pirates Booty— are often chosen for outdoor snacking, for example, and Twizzlers are a perfect companion for warm weather outings. When the weather is cool enough to keep chocolate from melting, s’mores always bring people together in a special way that creates lasting memories.

We're here to make more moments of goodness

Ultimately, engaging in self-care and heading outside are ways consumers are improving their lives amid the changing circumstances of the pandemic. We're proud to make more moments of goodness as consumers continue to evolve their lifestyles and needs.


1 Hershey Consumer Brain Candy, Week of June 8, 2021

2 Hershey Consumer Brain Candy, Week of June 1, 2021