Better-for-You Snacking is Better for Sales

Snacking is becoming more ingrained in consumers’ everyday eating behaviors. One reason is because 40% of consumers believe snacks are part of a healthy diet. Snacking healthy snacking can supply energy and nutrition needed to get through the day, which is especially key for consumers’ increasingly on-the-go lifestyles.

How their snacking behaviors may change, eating healthier once again tops responses with more than a quarter (28%) believing they will consume healthier snacks in the coming year. Aligning with the demographic skews regarding the notion that between-meal snacking is part of a healthful diet, responses for all three stats sway heaviest toward younger consumers (between the ages of 18 and 34) and women.

And when consumers predict h
While data shows consumers prioritize the flavor and satiety of snacks over health and nutrition, many still highly value these latter attributes. About half of consumers indicate that healthfulness (51%) and nutritious components (49%) are crucial factors when choosing a snack. And more than two-fifths of consumers say that features like unprocessed (42%) and natural/additive-free (41%) are important when selecting a snack.

More consumers are likely to consider better-for-you snacks in the afternoon (73%) than any other time of day. Slightly fewer consumers also consider mornings (69%) and evenings (66%) proper times of day to consume healthful snacks, while an even smaller proportion will eat a healthy snack as a meal replacement (57%) or during a late-night occasion (54%). It’s important to note that while all of these dayparts sway toward millennials, a more significant proportion of millennials would consider healthful snacks as a meal replacement (73%) compared to the considerably fewer Gen Zers or Gen Xers (both 59%), boomers (48%) and matures (33%). Thus, operators may want to consider marketing these types of snacks as such to this generational set.

Consumers find a wide range of nutritious snacks appealing. Respondents rank fruit and fruit-based snacks as the most enticing, with 63% of consumers saying they purchase these types of snacks at least once every 90 days. Yogurt trails close behind (57%) with plant-based proteins (56%)—such as peanut butter and hummus— rounding out the top three.

There are a number of interesting demographic breakouts when it comes to the most appealing healthful snacks. Here are a few:

  • Women find all healthful snacks more appealing than men with the exception of juice. Some 56% of men compared to just 50% of women find juice enticing.

  • While millennials tend to find each of the healthful snacks listed more appealing than other generations, one standout involves Gen X. Those born between 1966 and 1976 find granola/granola bars enticing (60%), more than any other generation.

  • Regional breakouts prove very enlightening as well. Snacks favored by Southerners more than those in other regions include fruit/fruit-based snacks (66%), eggs/egg-based dishes (53%) and oatmeal (43%). And Westerners— more than other regions—most prefer yogurt (61%), nuts (61%), dark chocolate (47%), smoothies (40%) and veggies/veggie-based snacks (39%).

  • Consumers with a mixed ethnic background tend to have the strongest opinion one way or another regarding the appeal of various better-for-you snacks. They are the most likely to say they find fruit snacks (82%), plant- based protein snacks (64%), nuts (64%), egg snacks (64%) and veggie snacks (55%) appealing and the least likely to say yogurt (45%), smoothies (18%) and frozen yogurt (18%) are alluring.

  1. Plant-Based Protein Snacks

    Freshii offers Energii Bites, house-made, no-cook snacks made with peanut butter, oats, honey, coconut and chocolate chips.

  2. Functional Lattes

    Cafe Gratitude sells a functional Turmeric Latte, featuring hemp seeds, medjool dates, turmeric juice and vanilla bean.

  3. Smoothie Upgrades

    Nekter Juice Bar’s add-ons include bee pollen, chia seeds, hemp protein, pea protein and whey protein.

  4. Superfood Cups

    Grabbagreen serves acai cups with combinations like banana, cacao, honey and granola.

  5. Next-Level Flatbread

    Snap Kitchen menus a Provencal Flatbread small bite with a cauliflower crust topped with pesto and tomato compote.

  6. Mix-and-Match Veggie Snacks

    Caffe Baci serves snack-sized, daily prepared contorni (sides), including garlic- and citrus-marinated olives, seasonal quinoa and grilled seasonal veggies with balsamic. TAKEAWAY: Next-generation superfood snacks are often high in price and may be cost-prohibitive for several Top 500 chains. Operators can simplify these items with a few key ingredient choices, such as bananas, strawberries and granola for acai bowls.

3 Areas of Opportunity in Better-For-You Snacks

  1. Restaurants vs. Retail

    While innovative and nutritious snacks have proliferated in retail, leading restaurant operators could differentiate their snack menus by offering some more interesting and health-oriented snack choices. A third of consumers (33%, up from 23% in 2014) say they’d purchase snacks more often at restaurants if they offered healthier options. Thus, restaurants should take note of some of the innovative grab-and-go snack offerings that retailers have emphasized over the past few years.

  2. Up the Unique Factor

    Two-fifths of consumers (42%) say they’d purchase healthful snacks more often if more unique flavorings were available. To differentiate better-for-you snack offerings, operators may want to consider offering a wider variety of unique flavorings, such as chili-lime carrots or jalapeño-honey hummus. The sky’s the limit!

  3. Balance is Key

    Even indulgent snacks can highlight better-for-you attributes to make them more attractive to health-minded guests. Calling out sourcing claims, such as the use of organic ingredients, is one way to create a health halo around more decadent snacks. Another way is to emphasize the functional features of a snack, such as protein-rich claims.

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