Snacks are tasty and often fun to eat. But those that just tickle our taste buds are missing key opportunities—today’s consumers expect snacks to serve many needs. Just as no two people are alike, the reasons why we snack are diverse and varied. Still, some common themes arise when we look at consumer snacking habits around the globe.
We’ve all been there. We get lost in our work, activities or entertainment and don’t realize how much time has passed until the grumble of our stomach reminds us that it’s time to refuel. As we lead busier and busier lives, our ability to break away from what we’re doing shrinks, and we increasingly reach for snacks.
In fact, more than three-quarters of global respondents (76%) eat snacks often or sometimes to satisfy their hunger between meals or to satisfy a craving. A smaller, but significant, number of global respondents (45%) consume snacks as a meal alternative—52% for breakfast, 43% for lunch and 40% for dinner. Regionally, Middle East/Africa (58%) and Latin America (55%) respondents exceed the global average for eating snacks as a replacement meal.
“There is a perception that snacks are intended more for in-between meals than for actual meal replacements,” said Susan Dunn, executive vice president, Global Professional Services, Nielsen. “But busy, on-the-go lifestyles often dictate a need for quick meals, and many opt for fast food options that can be high in calories and low in health benefits. There is a massive untapped opportunity to gain market share in the nutritious, portable and easy-to-eat meal alternative market that snack manufacturers could fill.”
Beyond silencing our hunger pangs, nutrition is the reason why 63% of global respondents eat snacks, and 61% snack to get an energy boost. Many also consume snacks when taking a break (60%) and when passing the time (53%). Therefore, it’s reasonable to believe that given a snack option that fills a need for nourishment, many consumers will pick an option that is both convenient and nutritious.
Other reasons for snacking are purely emotional. Sixty-four percent of global respondents say they eat snacks to improve their mood, 53% as a reward and 44% because they are stressed. Only 38% consume snacks often or sometimes to manage their weight.
The report also discusses:
For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Global Survey of Snacking.
The findings in this survey are based on respondents with online access across 60 countries. While an online survey methodology allows for tremendous scale and global reach, it provides a perspective only on the habits of existing Internet users, not total populations. In developing markets where online penetration has not reached majority potential, audiences may be younger and more affluent than the general population of that country. Additionally, survey responses are based on claimed behavior, rather than actual metered data.