When I think about modern-day snacking, one particular commercial comes to mind. In 2014, Bel Brands USA’s The Laughing Cow asked television audiences: “What’s happened to snacking? How did it become absent-mindedly eating?” The Laughing Cow even uses words like “predictable” and “unsatisfying” to describe snacking.
Little did Bel Brands — maker of individual and shareable cheese snacks — know that within just a few years’ time, snacking would become purposeful and intentional for consumers, retailers and manufacturers — and usher in a whole new era of consumption.
Modern-day snacking has become ubiquitous. According to The Hartman Group’s Future of Snacking 2016 study, 91 percent of consumers snack multiple times throughout the day. Of these consumers, 8 percent forego meals altogether in favor of all-day snacking. Additionally, a net total of 50 percent of all eating occasions today are snacking.
When it comes to where snackers are making their purchases, among the top five destinations for snack purchases identified by The Hartman Group is none other than convenience stores.
C-stores are uniquely positioned to satisfy snack occasions. In fact, more than 65 percent of consumers surveyed in Convenience Store News’ 2017 Realities of the Aisle study said they shopped at a c-store to buy snacks — the third-highest percentage of all in-store categories behind purchasing a beverage and fueling up their vehicles, respectively.
Today’s snackers are drawn to c-stores to make a purchase for a number reasons. When asked to think about the reason behind their last snack purchase, 37.9 percent of consumers said they wanted to satisfy a craving, while 29.3 percent sought to indulge or treat themselves, according to a survey by EIQ Research Solutions, sister company to CSNews.
As a female, millennial c-store shopper, I can attest that my last several c-store visits were to either satisfy a salty craving or indulge in something sweet.
A quarter of consumers also cited purchasing a snack to hold them over until their next meal. Interestingly, only 7.5 percent bought a snack as an impulse buy.
Nowadays, snacks are boundless — with new flavors and formats being introduced every day — and this means opportunities in the category are aplenty for convenience store retailers.