Three squares are just, well, "square" these days: More consumers across all age groups snack regularly throughout the day, often replacing meals by grazing.
According to Technomic’s 2018 Snacking Occasion Trend Report, consumers are more likely to replace one or two meals a day with snacks than they were two years ago. Those who replace meal with snacks are most likely to opt out of lunch.
But it’s not just one segment of shoppers that is changing its eating habits. Technomic’s research shows that 80% of consumers say they snack at least once a day. Globally, the snacking business grew by $3.4 billion in 2017, according to research from Nielsen.
Retailers with in-house foodservice operations carry a variety of prepared meals for shoppers to eat in-store, bring home or consume on the go at different dayparts. At the same time, retailers can position their grab-and-go case, grocerant, deli, hot foods bar and salad bar, among other areas, as snack stations of sorts. A smoothie or scoop of gelato are snacks, but so too are sushi rolls, a cup of soup or small salad package, to name some examples.
Kelly Weikel, Technomic’s director of consumer insights, says operators can deliver on the crave factor in a number of ways. “As busy consumers continue to seek convenience and increasingly replace meals with snacks, look for grab-and-go boxes and heartier snacks such as wings and crab bites to fill the hunger gap,” she said when the report was released.
Snacks also include drinks, Weikel points out. “On the beverage front, protein-infused options that feature health-halo and functional claims, including fresh, unprocessed and energizing, can help position drinks such as smoothies and shakes as smart meal replacement choices.”
Many shoppers are already satisfying their snacking needs at grocer’s foodservice areas. According to a related report from The Hartman Group, an equal number of consumers choose the grocerant for meals and snacks. When asked about the most recent time they bought freshly prepared food and beverages at a grocerant, 39% of respondents checked off, “I bought it instead of cooking at home" while 39% responded “I needed something quick for a meal or snack.”
Clearly, there's a clear case to be made for retailers to create snack stations across the store perimeter.