The Rise of Snacking


For today's consumers, their daily meals are breakfast, lunch, dinner — and snacking, which has become a form of meal itself and is now part of their daily routines and activities. The rise of snacking was the focus of a category management-track educational session, "Destination Refresh and Recharge," presented by Coca-Cola Refreshments' Doug Middlebrooks, assistant vice president of shopper marketing, and Amy Valenzuela, senior shopper insights manager.

The data is clear: the majority of consumers report eating a snack each day, and one out of five eating occasions includes a snack. "Everybody's eating snacks," Middlebrooks said. With Millennial consumers, in particular, increasingly using snacks as meals, "they're really starting to blur together."

To help convenience store retailers determine where and how to drive category value, Coca-Cola constructed a framework called PITA:

  • Population: The number of shoppers in your stores/store households.
  • Incidence: Shoppers buying the category/category penetration.
  • Transactions: Times they purchase/trips per household.
  • Amount: Amount they spend/net dollars per trip.

By plugging in their numbers and multiplying them, retailers can see where they are vs. where they want to be. However, Middlebrooks pointed out that while the PITA framework can guide c-stores' marketing efforts, there's no one way that's right; it depends on the state of each store.

Retailers can also make use of Coca-Cola's iSHOP (individual shopping habits occasions and perceptions), which examines the who, what, when, where and why of convenience shoppers. Millennials, aged 18 to 34, and Hispanics stand out as the strongest grab-and-go convenience shoppers, and engaging them is critical to success.

"Engagement increases as Millennials get older," Valenzuela said, which means that building brand relationships with younger Millennials today will provide customers tomorrow.

Millennials are more likely to shop alone; tend to shop in the afternoon and late at night; shop at c-stores once a week or more; and respond well to product demonstrations and samples.

Hispanics also shop c-stores once or more weekly, but they tend to shop in the morning and at lunch in the afternoon; are more likely to purchase gas at the store; are attracted to good loyalty programs such as store credit cards and fuel rewards; and value freshness over price.

There are numerous ways to engage all consumers in search of a snack while focusing on the groups with the highest growth potential. The key is to know your shopper and focus your offer messages, the presenters said. "This is the fourth meal and it's growing," Middlebrooks stressed.

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