Food & Beverage Perspectives
The Evolution of a Snacking Nation

The Evolution of a Snacking Nation

Snacking is big and only getting bigger, according to a new white paper from the Sullivan Higdon & Sink (SHS) FoodThink that found 81 percent of consumers admit to snacking at least once a days. The white paper, “Snacker Nation" details Americans’ continued obsession with snacking and outlines five distinct snacker consumer segments.

Snacking is big and only getting bigger, according to a new white paper from the Sullivan Higdon & Sink (SHS) FoodThink that found 81 percent of consumers admit to snacking at least once a days. The white paper, “Snacker Nation" details Americans’ continued obsession with snacking and outlines five distinct snacker consumer segments.

“Consumers have evolved their definition of snacking, and it now has a social aspect to it, in addition to wanting to add variety and healthy options to their diet," said Christy Niebaum, senior FoodThink researcher.

The white paper identified five snacker consumer segments—Healthy Snackers (29 percent), Bored Snackers (28 percent), Starving Snackers (21 percent), Non-Snackers (12 percent) and Social Snackers (10 percent).

But within those segments, it is important for snack companies to understand consumers’ continually shifting needs, desires and tastes—all of which influence their snack purchasing habits. For example, 44 percent of Americans say their definition of a snack has evolved; 23 percent say they intend to snack more in the future, especially Millennials at 37 percent; and three in four say snacking can be part of a healthy diet.

“People aren't as concerned about spoiling their dinner by snacking anymore, and they are looking at food companies to provide them with more snack-size meal choices," said Niebaum. “Food marketers that consider delivering a variety of smaller meals with some healthy, convenient options on the menu or on the shelf that encourage shareable meals will strongly appeal to consumers."

Need more proof that snacking is on the rise? Consumers around the globe are snacking more frequently than ever, apparently listening to the health gurus who contend that eating smaller meals more frequently every day is healthier than the traditional daily three squares. Data from IRI showed the number of snacks consumed daily, per person, has increased from 1.9 to 2.8 since 2010, and consumers are becoming much heavier snackers, with 49 percent saying they consume one to two snacks daily in 2014, and 51 percent saying it’s more like three or more for them.

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