When eating, we use all five senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. Yet new product development is typically focused mainly on novel formulations and exciting packaging. Aspects such as product texture remain a ripe opportunity for brands to explore further and create a differentiating factor without compromising on flavour variations.

Earlier this month, Mars announced new texture innovations across their fruit flavoured confectionery products Skittles and Starburst, rebranding them as “Skittles Chewies” without the characteristic hard shell, and “Starburst Unwrapped” without the outer paper packaging to facilitate consumption. This is the first innovation in 20 years for the Skittles product line and it is interesting that the company chose to innovate with texture rather than disturb the existing popular flavour variants.

Latest research from GlobalData’s 2018 Q3 global consumer survey shows that a sizable section of consumers living in UK and USA (68% and 73% respectively) say that their food product choices are always or often influenced by how enjoyable or unique the product is. This proves that establishing a unique differentiating factor is essential for brands to remain competitive in a cluttered marketplace, and brands need to continually innovate to keep consumers engaged.

Although texture is by no means the only route to innovation, it is one that offers a lot of potential in comparison to other types of sensory experimentation in foods. Texture innovation provides consumers with new consumption experiences based on the same tried-and-tested product flavours, blending familiarity with a bit of novelty.

This is likely to attract new consumers to the product while retaining a loyal consumer base. Other sectors where brands have successfully innovated with texture innovation include soft drinks (e.g. carbonated versus still drinks) and savoury snacks (e.g. “extra crunchy” claims), offering consumers with a variety of consumption experiences.


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