Capitalize on the Surge in Snacking With These 3 Insights

Posted in Millennials on July 19, 2023


The latest data reports daily snacking is on the rise.

According to the 2023 Food and Health Survey by Food Insight, there has been no post-pandemic let up in the frequency of snacking, as levels remain elevated for the second straight year. Seven in ten Americans (72%) snack at least once a day in addition to their main meals, a finding consistent with last year’s results from the same study.

The data is good news for micro market operators, who are well-positioned to benefit from the trend with their unattended retail accounts in workplaces and increasingly, in public locations, such as airports, healthcare settings and hotels. To truly capitalize on the opportunity and utilize promotions to enhance sales, operators must look deeper into available data to determine what motivates their customers to snack, what they typically snack on at various times of the day and other important factors that drive purchasing decisions. 

1. Snacking Motivation

The Food Insight study reports that over 40% of those surveyed snack for the most fundamental reason – because they are hungry or thirsty. Almost 30% said they snacked because it was a treat for them. 20% indicated that they snack because they wanted a sweet or salty item. Additional answers included:

  • I need energy.

  • It is a habit of mine.

  • Out of boredom.

  • It is too long until my next meal.

Food Insight’s data listed three leading drivers for consumers when they purchase snacks.

  • Taste: 87%

  • Price: 76%

  • Healthfulness: 62%

Keeping these motivating factors and purchasing drivers in mind is key for choosing the right mix of products.

2. Snacking Timeline

For those who snack in the morning, the Food Insights report points to fruit at 30% as the leading snack. Other morning snacks include:

  • Dairy foods (14%)

  • Danish, donuts, or pastries (13)

  • Nutrition bars (11%)

  • Savory/salty snacks (11%)

  • Grains (10%)

The 2022 Mondelēz International State of Snacking Report notes that early morning snacking is also on the rise, as 24% of consumers (and 29% of Gen Z) eat a snack before breakfast, up from 19% in 2020. Convenience is a motivator for this choice, as two-thirds (65%) believe it’s easier to grab a quick snack in the morning than a full meal.

In the afternoon, things start turning more indulgent. Savory and salty snacks are the number-one choice in the afternoon at 31%, followed by:

  • Fruits (20%)

  • Candy, chocolate, and other treats (18%)

  • Cookies, cake, or ice cream (17%)

  • Nuts/seeds or nut/seed butters (14%)

  • Nutrition bars (9%)

As micro markets expand to more public locations, after 6 p.m. snacking data has become increasingly important to consider. Cookies, cake, or ice cream dominate the evening hours at 29%, followed by:

  • Savory/salty snacks (26%)

  • Candy, chocolate, and other treats (19%)

  • Fruits (16%)

  • Nuts/seeds or nut/seed butters (11%)

  • Danish, donuts, or pastries (8%)

Consider what consumers are looking for in each of these dayparts to satisfy their needs—from a healthy morning start to an indulgent dinner.

3. Generational Preferences

The 2021 Mondelēz International State of Snacking report reports that different generations have different reasons for snacking.  

  • Gen Zs are more likely to snack to relieve anxiety and boredom

  • Millennials snack to meet their nutritional needs.

  • Gen X’s top motivation to snack is comfort.

Gen Z and Millennials are also more likely to replace at least one meal each day with a snack, according to the report. So it may behoove micro market and vending operators to prioritize these two audiences.

How can you implement these insights to more effectively drive sales? By leveraging promotions to capitalize further on the popularity of snacking.

Discover how to drive turns and revenue using promotions in this infographic from Mondelēz Vending

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