Datamonitor predicts in a new report that far from diminishing, the market will grow by a generous 27 per cent to hit €1.7billion (£1.2bn) in 2008.
Chocolate is the ultimate stress buster for many, taking a 43 per cent slice of the total spending on premium indulgence. After this categories showing the greatest growth are snack nuts, juices and bread. Although the market for premium snack nuts is currently very small with an overall value of just £6.2m in 2003, Datamonitor forecasts the market will leap by 40 per cent, to almost £9m in 2008.
Juices are the second fastest growing category, with forecast sales of £151m by 2008. Bread has also benefited from the 'self-indulgence trend' as consumers opt for artisanal bread made using traditional methods and higher quality ingredients. Many supermarkets now offer a wide variety of premium breads from in-store bakeries. Sales of premium bread are set to increase by a third, from £190m in 2003 to £252m in 2008.
"Self-indulgent treating fulfils a very important psychological function. Indulging in a premium snack is a self-centered activity, a small moment of relaxation, of 'me-time'. Although this applies to snacking generally, it is particularly relevant to premium snacks, which have a higher focus on indulgence, taste, and quality," say the analysts.
Positioning products on the self-indulgent front but 'blurring consumers perception of what constitutes a need and what is merely a desire' could lead to a faithful clientele because people "do not generally cut down on necessities", say Datamonitor.
According to the analysts, the burgeoning health trend will not significantly eat into the 'me-time' market because consumers are not "generally prepared to abandon the pleasure that they derive from treating themselves".
"Premium treats are not necessarily unhealthy and at any rate are not consumed in the same volumes as standard products. They are primarily selected for their indulgent qualities rather than with any health-related concerns in mind," commented Lawrence Gould at Datamonitor and author of the report.