Competitive analysis: Ritz, Goldfish, Mr. Christie, Triscuit, Good Thins
Good Thins, Triscuit, and Ritz are all produced by Nabisco, a subsidiary of Mondelez International. Mr. Christie snacks are produced by Snackworks Canada, also owned by Mondelez. Goldfish, the most popular snack reviewed in this report, is produced by Pepperidge Farm, a subsidiary of the Campbell Soup Company. Below you will find a deep dive into the competitive landscaped shared by each of these brands.
Summaries of our findings have been entered into the project spreadsheet as requested.
After an initial survey of the brands in question, we discovered that all four are owned by the same company: Good Thins, Triscuit, and Ritz are all produced by Nabisco (as shown on Nabisco's Snackworks website) which in turn is owned by Mondelez International. Snackworks Canada, likewise owned by Mondelez, produces Mr. Christie. Mondelez has been extremely successful in courting the millennial market with its varied lines of healthy, savory snacks. Goldfish is the odd-man-out, being produced instead by Pepperidge Farm, which is in turned owned as a subsidiary of the Campbell Soup Company.
We have noted the "per basket" price for each of the requested products below. However, since a side-by-side comparison is often more useful, below are the retail prices as set by Target at the time of this writing:
Ritz Toasted Chips - $2.50
Goldfish - $1.99
Triscuit Thin Crisps - $2.50
Good Thins - $2.50
Mr. Christie is not offered by Target, but typically sells for $2 Canadian, which at today's exchange rates equals USD $1.60.
Good Thins come in a variety of flavors, being variously made from potato, rice, chickpeas, corn, and oats. Launched in 2016, Good Thins is "touted for using real ingredients and no artificial flavors or colors ... reached about $90 million in retail sales in its first year." The Chicago Tribune writes, "Women between 35 and 45 years old, many of whom are married and have kids, are the targeted demographic for Good Thins."
Like Triscuit, Good Thins advertise their nutritional qualities: "Delicious goodness is baked in every snack with no artificial colors, no artificial flavors, no cholesterol, and no partially hydrogenated oils." However, unlike Triscuit and Ritz, Good Thins are presented as-is, without pictures of other ingredients piled on top or recipes, suggesting that Good Thins are a healthy snack that need no add-ons to make them delicious, making them an on-the-go snack like Goldfish. This makes them more attractive to mothers looking for healthy snacking alternatives for their children.
Triscuit likewise comes in a variety of flavors, though their Thin Crisps line is currently only available in one (Original). Triscuit had $341.5 million in sales in 2017; we were unable to locate separate sales figures for their "thins" line. Their average price per basket is $2.50, and their typical customer is over age 35 and more likely to be female.
Triscuit is clearly marketing itself as a health-conscious choice, with the very first sentence on their website reading, "Triscuit crackers are now non-GMO project verified." They also advertise themselves as starting with "100% whole grain wheat, oil and salt." Like Ritz, Triscuit presents itself as the base of a healthy snack, showing pictures of Triscuit crackers piled with fresh-cut roast beef or hummus along with healthy vegetables.
As a result, Triscuit is popular with women over age 35. Like Goldfish, Triscuit's popularity grows in proportion to the education and salary of the population and is disproportionately popular with caucasians in the Midwest and Northeast over any other ethnic group or region. It is nearly always purchased in grocery stores (as opposed to dollar, drug, or convenience stores).
Ritz Crisps & Thins are currently available in four flavors other than original: bacon, sea salt, cream cheese & onion, and salt & vinegar. Ritz's motto is, "You've got the stuff to make life rich," and their website features numerous snacks built on a Ritz cracker as a base, e.g., a mini-pizza built on a cracker. Ritz's primary distinction and strategy, therefore, is presenting their crackers as the base of a culinary adventure in snacking.
Ritz is just behind Goldfish in sales, with $485.6 million in 2017 and currently sell at $2.88 per basket. They are slightly more popular among women than men, and are most popular among those under the age of 24 and over the age of 65. They are more popular among Whites and Asians, and least popular among Hispanics and African Americans. Despite how they want to market themselves, Ritz crackers are by far most often bought in dollar stores with food stamps or cash.
Mr. Christie, produced by Snackworks Canada, is a brand of individually-portioned snack packs which is currently only available in Canada. Mr. Christie's snacks are clearly targeted at children, featuring both adventurous mascots of their own and characters from Star Wars and Minions on its boxes. It comes in several sweet and cookie-based flavors, such as honey, cocoa, strawberry-cranberry fruit crisps, animal crackers and even some based on other brands, such as Oreo and Chips Ahoy. We could find no wheat products that would directly compare to the other products studied in this report; Mr. Christie only competes with Ritz, Good Thins, Goldfish, and Triscuit in the sense that it is in the "snack" category.
Despite an extensive search, we were unable to find a public source which provided the sales or demographic details for Mr. Christie, possibly due to it being little known outside of Canada. However, we did find a Nielson report noting that within the US, household spending on individually packaged snacks had grown by 1.1%, "with almost every household (98%) in the U.S. purchasing these items at least once for quick and convenient consumption." Growth is particularly strong among brands that "call attention to specific healthful claims." While these market factors are specific to the US, we believe it likely that similar forces drive the Canadian market.
Note that Snackworks Canada also produces a series of cracker products under the brand name Christie, which is distinct from Mr. Christie and is based in Nashville, TN. It is possible that Christie, being in more direct competition with the other brands, was intended, but since Mr. Christie is specified by the question, we have provided Mr. Christie information above.
As previously noted, Goldfish is produced by Pepperidge Farm. Goldfish comes in three whole grain varieties, pretzel, cheddar, and multi-colored cheddar, three "Flavor Blasted" varieties, pizza, cheddar, and white cheddar, as well as Goldfish Grahams in fudge brownie, vanilla cupcake, and s'mores flavors. They also offer mixed and fun theme packs. Of the five brands considered here, Goldfish are the clear leader, with $523.1 million in sales in 2017. The average price per basket is $2.77, and their average customer is white, 35-44 years old with children. Interestingly, the higher the education and salary, the more likely a person is to eat Goldfish.
The Goldfish homepage presents them as a wholesome, family snack: "Goldfish® crackers have been making families smile for decades. And why not? They’re fun, baked with goodness, like real cheese, and—really, really yummy!" That last phrase is clearly targeted at the parents of younger children, precisely the demographic most likely to buy Goldfish. Unlike some other examples here, Goldfish are presented as a quick and easy snack on their own, not just one element in a culinary adventure. They are also slightly less expensive than their competitors, which makes them attractive to families on a budget.
Except for Goldfish, produced by Pepperidge Farm, each of the above brands is produced under the Nabisco label and owned by Mondelez International. The branding of each is driven by a market which increasingly demands healthy snacks in a variety of flavors. This information has been summarized in the project spreadsheet.