Oreo Courts a Higher-End Customer as Snacks Put on the Ritz

Oreo cookie and latte

Oreo is getting fancy as snack foods sprinkle in a little bit of affordable luxury to appeal to today’s belt-tightening shoppers.

On Monday (March 4), the company will be launching Oreo Thins with tiramisu-flavored crème filling, according the brand’s social channels, marking a more upscale twist on the mass-market snack. The move comes years after the company launched a limited-edition tiramisu flavor for its standard, non-Thin cookies back in 2020.

This upcoming launch is the latest in a series of major snack brands adding fancy flavors, new products or collaborations, offering consumers a sense of the high life within their mainstream offerings — a feeling that many are desperately craving, as years of budgetary pressures demand ongoing belt-tightening.

In the United Kingdom, for instance, Campbell Soup Company’s Pepperidge Farm brand recently launched London Fog Milano cookies, named for the tea-based latte beverage, in partnership with actress Hannah Waddingham. With Earl Grey and vanilla flavorings, the cookie offers the aesthetics of teatime elegance while still being a basic, affordable Milano.

“Don’t get me started on [Pepperidge Farm’s] cookies — crafted to be savored, not inhaled,” Waddingham said in the news release.

In December, Doritos launched a limited-edition hard liquor in partnership with spirits company Empirical. Plus, in September, Pringles kicked off a partnership with the Caviar Company to launch the “Crisps and Caviar Collection,” inspired by a TikTok trend of pairing the snack with caviar, which had garnered over 10 billion views.

Also in September, Cheetos partnered with premium bakery Milk Bar, known for its indulgent (both financially and nutritionally) baked goods on a limited-time Cheetos birthday cake, at the same time launching a “Cheetos Couture” line selling a bag that costs as much as $175.

These moves to endow mass-market snacks with a sense of fanciness or luxury comes as, amid ongoing budgetary challenges, snacks prove to be one of the few things consumers continue to splurge on.

The 2023 study “New Reality Check: The Paycheck-to-Paycheck Report: The Nonessential Spending Deep Dive Edition,” a PYMNTS Intelligence and LendingClub collaboration, revealed that three-quarters of consumers purchase “nice-to-have” items at the grocery store at least sometimes. Meanwhile, only 70% said the same of retail products. As such, food items prove to be among the more popular ways that shoppers treat themselves.

“Chocolate and Salty Snacks, rank as two of the top three resilient treats that consumers are not willing to forgo,” Hershey Company CEO Michele Buck told analysts on a call last year. “Chocolate moments are such a heavily integrated part of consumers’ weekly routines, from rewarding moments to stress relief to self-care, and everything in between, that they indicate they would rather cut back on other expenses to make room for chocolate because they love it so much, and it’s affordable.”

Plus, consumers across income brackets continue to want the luxury treatment. The Generational Deep Dive Edition of the same series of reports revealed that 63% of consumers reported having spent $100 or more on a nonessential item or service in the previous three months.

In a world where every penny counts, the emergence of affordable luxury in snack aisles offers a much-needed escape for today’s budget-conscious shoppers.