Understanding the Modern Snacker

The pandemic has influenced a new set of behaviours that have revolutionized the way the modern consumer shops and eats. Instead of consuming timely meals, consumers are now snacking more than ever before. Nevertheless, snacking is not a new behaviour, which begs the question, why are more people adopting snacking behaviours? As the customer profile of snackers change, it is essential for snack food businesses to redefine their target audience to ensure that their snack product remains appealing and profitable to the modern snacker. Let's explore the new generation of snackers and identify their motivations and needs in order to help you better market your snack product to the modern snacker.

Who are the modern snackers?

Data shows us that the majority of modern snackers are those between the ages of 25 - 34, followed by those aged between 18 - 24. These individuals have demonstrated frequent and regular snack purchasing and consumption behaviours. Additionally, these younger consumers have shown to strongly influence other consumers including friends, family, and their social media network. Moreover, many hypothesize that this set of consumers may be of utmost importance as they are most likely to pass on their behaviours as they expand their family units.

Where is most snacking taking place?

With the global pandemic, many alterations to the way we live our lives changed. One major change that occurred was an increase in the time spent at home. This change led to more individuals purchasing more and bigger-sized snack packages.

As the world begins to transition back to normality, many individuals are starting to return to an out-of-home setting increasing out-of-home snack food consumption. Individuals that snack outside the home typically prefer single-serving portions of snacks.

Nonetheless, the world appears to be following a hybrid behaviour above all, where some consumption of snacks occurs outside the home and some inside. This new hybrid behaviour presents the need for snacks that are both suitable for an at-home and an away-from-home environment.

When is most snacking taking place?

For years, snack time has been defined by consumers as morning (post-breakfast), afternoon (post-lunch), and evening (post-dinner). Consumers have also associated these defined snack times with specific snack types. Consumers typically start with the healthier snack choices in the morning, then progress to a salty or savoury snack after lunch, followed by a sweet snack after dinner. Additionally, the portion size of the snack has shown to increase as the day progresses.

Recently, consumers have shifted their behaviour to favour a heavier morning snack featuring more snack food items. Consequently, the number of individuals consuming lunch decreased proportionally. This new era of snacking appears to be using their morning snack to replace their lunch meal while also reducing their evening snack consumption. This change in behaviour could be associated with greater daytime demands, and less participation in night time eating activities.

Why are people snacking?

Snacking is motivated by three major needs: psychological, functional and occasional. Majority of snackers start their day with functional motivations such as satiety, energy or nutritional boost, and transition to psychological and occasional motivations as the day progresses. Psychological-based motivations include to destress or celebrate. Occasional motivations can refer to attending an event (such as a sporting event), socializing, or for time constraints.

Types of snacks are consumers purchasing?

The types of snacks consumed fall under two categories: indulgent or healthy. However, this new era of snackers is demanding for a third category that encompasses both indulgence and health.

The ideal snack for the modern snacker encompasses fun, sustainability, freshness, indulgence, flavour, health benefits, and a touch of nostalgia. The modern snacker is looking for the total package that fits their flavour expectations and health needs, all while providing comfort, excitement and convenience.

Key takeaways & closing remarks

Consumers are shifting their eating habits towards regular snacking and reducing or eliminating regular meals. This new era of snackers are interested in snacks that provide a balance between healthy and indulgent all while being sustainably produced, flavourful, nostalgic and convenient for both at home and out-of-home consumption. With modern snacking habits subject to habitual eating times and motivations, snack food makers can capitalize on this information to design snack products that better appeal to the modern snacker.