4 trends driving growth in snacking

Analytics company Nielsen has highlighted a quartet of areas ripe for exploitation, as well as creating seven snacker profiles.

6 August 2018

1. Week vs weekend

People tend to consume healthier products – dried fruit and nuts, yoghurt, protein bars – during the week, while binging on popcorn, chocolate and cakes on the weekend. One way to use this to increase sales would be to introduce a bit of flex into ranging, highlighting functional products that come in single packs from Monday to Thursday, while promoting more indulgent sharing options Saturday and Sunday.

2. Fruit and veg

Considering the vogue for plant-based foods, it should come as no surprise that the most popular weekday snacks are fruit and veg. In fact, around 93% of shoppers said they were most likely to consume these foods between meals during the week. Breakfast bars and yoghurt were also popular options. Nielsen suggests manufacturers should be confident in producing recipes that incorporate fruit and veg, drawing attention to natural content on pack. Clarity on packaging is key, not just to draw attention to natural content but also to communicate premium products, for which consumers will pay more.

3. Indulgent treats

As Food Spark has repeatedly noted, just because consumers are becoming more health conscious does not mean they’re moving away from indulgence. On the contrary, the boom in wellness eating seems to have meant that when shoppers and diners do pig out, they are less concerned with ever about nutritional content. Nielsen’s research backs this up, with the company noting that “there is still a big role for the traditional core snacking products to play in driving growth.”

4. The generation gap

Millennials are significantly more concerned with price than either gen Xers or baby boomers. They are also the most likely to consume snacks as a meal replacement and least likely to impulse buy. Gen Xers, meanwhile, are keen on indulgence, while aging baby boomers are concerned with healthy eating and tend to plan their snack purchases ahead of time.


7 types of snacker

Nielsen has also created seven categories of snacker, in order to highlight different ways to target shoppers. Consumers do not necessarily fall into any one category, and may even exhibit characteristics of all types at different times.

Impulsive: these guys see something they like by the till and chuck it right in the basket. This most common buying state, around 89% of shoppers say they have bought snacks on impulse, meaning there’s plenty of opportunity to attract people to new products.

Planned: driving subscription snacking services like Graze and Degustabox, this bunch knows what it wants before entering a store, heading straight for the main aisles for items to consume with friends and family. At 88%, there’s almost an equal amount of people who sometimes shop on impulse and people who sometimes shop with a list in mind, making for plenty of overlap.

Meal replacement: functional food is paramount, as these snackers seek products to help them refuel. While 75% of shoppers say they have missed a core meal and sought out a snack to fill the gap, this category is split into those who have accidentally done so (and are therefore seeking an impulse buy) and those who have a regimented eating schedule that incorporates snacking instead of traditional dining occasions.

Healthy: functionality is still important here, but more important for the 67% in this segment is avoiding the bad stuff, with more nutritional focus on high sugar and salt values rather than protein. Organic and sustainability claims are influential.

Investigator: these shoppers want to know it all, striking a balance between, price, functionality and health. Approximately 67% of shoppers identify with having done this in the past. While clear on-pack information helps attract them, further digital support materials could help satisfy their curiosity further.

Promo: it’s all about the pennies with this lot, though only 46% of those surveyed said they purchased with price as the priority.

Indulgent: forget all those vitamin-seeking folk, some people just want to pig out when they snack. These shoppers are also likely to spend more for a truly decadent mouthful, basing decisions on the emotional appeal of a treat. About 67% of respondents said they had shopped in this state at least once.

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