Peppers pattern

Flavor preferences are heating up, and brands are leaning in. PepsiCo recently made headlines for establishing Flamin’ Hot as a distinct brand within its portfolio,1 pointing to several key trends within snacking.


Inside the headline:

  • The Flamin’ Hot brand will debut with 25 unique products and distinct packaging, making it easier for consumers to identify these offerings amidst the boom in spicy-flavored snacks.
  • The new branding is intended to play into the edgy attitude fans have come to love and expect from Flamin’ Hot, which is the #1 brand in spicy salty snacks according to Frito-Lay.
  • Consumers made nearly 400 million trips to buy Flamin's hot products last year, up 31% vs. 2022, further signaling the power behind hot and spicy flavor trend.

While they have broad appeal across the food and beverage industry, spicy flavors are particularly relevant in the snacking category where consumers show a clear desire for experiences that satisfy both comfort and adventure. Younger generations are especially heat-seeking: our new Future of Snacking 2024 study found that 62% of Gen Z and 59% of Millennials enjoy spicy foods.

Our POV:

The Flamin’ Hot brand extension underscores a crucial business principle: adaptability. Any trend can be lucrative for a period of time, but the difference between a flash in the pan and enduring success is continuing to evolve with the trend…all while remaining consumer-centric.

For example, our research on snacking culture signals that consumers are looking beyond one-dimensional flavors for complex, layered taste profiles. Lay's new “swicy” chips and Coca-Cola's Spiced varieties are other examples of tapping into consumer desire for novelty and sensory depth.

Additionally, globally-inspired flavors like the spices found in Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin American foods have been gaining popularity for some time. Technology and global connectivity have enhanced culinary exploration, especially for younger consumers: 12% of Gen Z and 14% of Millennials have purchased “global snacks” in the past 3 months (vs. 7% for Gen X and 4% for Boomers).2 This shift towards adventurous flavors signifies a broader movement towards snacks that offer both taste innovation and cultural richness.

By embracing innovation and staying attuned to consumer desires, food and beverage companies can ride the wave of trends and carve out their place in the market.

Diving deeper: Future of Snacking 2024

To fully understand the complexities of American snacking habits, you’ll want to explore our new report: Future of Snacking 2024: Balancing Intent with Indulgence. This in-depth analysis will help you gain a deeper understanding of where and why consumers make tradeoffs in their snack choices, which considerations are most important, how sourcing and discovery have evolved, and where innovation opportunities are greatest. Read the study overview here or reach out to Melissa Abbott, one of our many experts on the topic:


1. “PepsiCo creates Flamin’ Hot brand to highlight fast-growing chip flavor,” FoodDive, March 2024

2. Future of Snacking 2024: Balancing Intent with Indulgence, Hartman Group