The snacking evolution – Focus on what shoppers want

The snacking market is undergoing major changes. Demand for innovation in health is increasing rapidly and shoppers are in search of ever more convenient snacking options.

As competition for spend intensifies, it’s vital that retailers and suppliers stay close to shoppers’ evolving needs and preferences. So, what are shoppers looking for when they buy snacks, what is driving their purchases, and how can you best influence them?

An evolving shopper profile

Not only are snacking categories changing, but so too is the snacking shopper. In grocery, just 13% are now under the age of 34. In 2017 that number was 24%. This is indicative of how many alternatives younger shoppers now have available to them. Last year Shopper Intelligence found a growing number of Millennials were using the convenience channel for their snacking needs. QSRs, cafes, and even home delivery services are also increasingly part of the snacking repertoire for many people.

It is little surprise then, that two in three snacking shoppers either live alone or in a mature household, while younger families under index in these categories. Given those with younger children tend to have a more extensive range of occasions and missions to cater for, they could and should be a target for future growth.

What’s more, trip frequency for younger families is considerably higher than average. 48% shop for snacks more than once a week, compared with just 26% of mature households. There is a strong case therefore for this group to feature more prominently in category development plans.

The role snacking plays

In terms of the role snacking plays for retailers, there are several crucial dynamics that brands should be aware of. Overall, snacking is a solid spend driver and shoppers agree most strongly with the following three statements when they buy from snacking categories:

  • I’m often persuaded to buy extra product in this category
  • I might sometimes buy an additional item because I want to try something new or different
  • I sometimes buy just because I feel like it at the time

The third of these statements scores the highest with Coles and Woolworths shoppers.
So it’s very important to invest in strong displays that tempt shoppers and speak to specific occasions or needs, while also encouraging them to trade up through volume. At the same time, newness and innovation also have a role to play and should not be overlooked.

Top five snacking categories for “I sometimes buy just because I feel like it at the time”

  1. Chocolate Bars
  2. Chocolate Biscuits
  3. Cookies
  4. Lolly Bags
  5. Chocolate Bags

Top five snacking categories for “I might sometimes buy an additional item because I want to try something new or different”

  1. Healthier Snacks
  2. Cookies
  3. Premium/Entertaining Crackers
  4. Multipack Biscuits
  5. Biscuits – Creams

46% of snacking purchases are unplanned compared to the grocery average of just 29%. If it were a category, that would make snacking the 31st most impulsive in the store out of 208. The in-store environment is clearly pivotal and the most common trigger for unplanned shoppers is either a display or a special offer.

Invest in what matters most

The direction of travel for snacking is positive. Overall satisfaction is improving year-on-year and now sits at 59%. By comparison, total impulse sits at 58% and the average for all categories is 56%.

In price, assortment and execution, snacking over indexes versus both benchmarks, yet in terms of product-related metrics, it is under performing.

Authenticity and environmental impact are two key areas that require further attention.

Snacking performs worse on these measures that both the total impulse department and the total store. Despite being relatively less important to snacking shoppers, their significance has risen more than that of any other factor over the last three years.

In terms of authenticity, 39% of snacking shoppers want to see more original, unique or traditional ranges, while 32% believe Australian grown or produced products are key.

When it comes to the environment, snacking shoppers are clear what they would like to see improve. 75% say packaging is the most important aspect for businesses to address, compared to an average of 59% across all categories.

Competition in snacking is likely to increase in the coming years as shoppers continue to stock up less and consume more immediately. While there is plenty to be optimistic about in grocery, retailers and brands must keep the right levers and drivers in focus if they are to increase their chances of success. Ultimately, those who best put the shopper at the heart of their plans will be in the best position to win.

This article was written by David Shukri, originally published in April’s edition of Retail World Magazine and reposted here with permission.

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