During the interview for our September issue cover story profile on fast-growing entrepreneurial brand Ka-Pop! Snacks, a company founded and led by Dustin Finkel, he talked about the need to keep the joy in better-for-you snacking: “We believe that eating is meant to be enjoyable, and that the desire to choose healthy options should be shared by the whole family. We were very purposeful in developing a brand that could bring that fun back to healthy snacking.”

Healthier alone isn’t sufficient. Product developers know this immutable fact. The organoleptics—the taste, aroma, bite, mouthfeel, etc.—need to rank highly on the hedonic scale in order to find widespread acceptance. We must truly enjoy our daily respites set aside for snacking—alone, or shared with family and friends.

These days, permissibility—other half of the equation at play here—increasingly factors into product purchase (and repeat purchase) decisions. Healthy bodies with strong immune systems often fare better when fighting microscopic invaders like viruses. In our ongoing pandemic—and eventually post-pandemic—culture, this aspect of product development and positioning will continue to play a vital role in brand success. We need to feel good about the foods we eat on a regular basis. And a joyful indulgence that meets our self-defined criteria for permissibility will find its way into shopping carts on a regular basis.

Depending on the snack or bakery product category in question, the criteria used to determine permissibility will change. Sometimes fat and sugar will loom large. Additive nutrients like whole grains, protein, and fiber can sway decision-making. At other times, a streamlined, “clean” ingredient statement might suffice. Easily defined portion sizes will play a role. It’s vital to understand your target audience and which product variables tend to outweigh others at the point of purchase.

This intersection of joyful and permissible will continue to factor into nearly every snack and bakery category—and retail and foodservice. And delivering strongly on both counts will make truly lasting impressions on your consumers.