Snacking trends Q-and-A
By Michelle Brisebois
By Michelle Brisebois
When you want advice about which trends to watch, you go to the experts. We chatted with Frank Jiang, country research analyst at Euromonitor International, to get his perspective on the types of products and tactics that would best help the vending industry connect with the snacking trend.
MB: Snacking has evolved from something forbidden that “ruined your supper” to often replacing supper. What’s driving this behaviour and how can the vending industry capitalize on it?
FJ: Snacking has been growing and this trend continues to intensify. Younger consumers are largely driving this trend because they are busier than previous generations. Snacking is about convenience: Time is the new money. The desire for healthier, fresh, natural snacks means there’s an opportunity for vending operators to charge more and improve their margins.
MB: Is gluten-free a fad or longer-term trend?
FJ: Gluten-free continues to be strong for the foreseeable future. The baked goods industry has definitely felt the effects. Consumers with celiac disease have demanded more choice and the general population perceives it as healthier, so it’s a trend that’s trickled down. There has been some push back from the baked goods industry but the trend is still strong.
MB: How can vending capitalize on the growth in the breakfast day part?
FJ:Ready-to-eat cereal is less popular and protein-rich products are more popular for breakfast. Greek yogurts and protein bars are both growing.
MB: Millennials snack more frequently than other cohorts. Is this a transitory life-stage behaviour or will the Lunchables generation graze throughout their lives?
FJ: Millennials will likely continue this behaviour for some time to come. They want products that are portable, convenient. Millennials aren’t consuming big brand sodas like other generations. They want carbonated, flavoured waters or craft sodas.
MB: Pack sizes are decreasing. Are we witnessing the demise of the “super-sized” portion?
FJ: “It’s not necessarily the demise of the super-sized portion. We have seen Smarties packaging change to contain three subpackages for portion control. Companies sometimes do discontinue king-sized packages but smaller pack size bars don’t sell well. We especially see it in chocolate and ice cream. Consumers will say they want low-calorie options but their behaviour can differ from their responses to surveys. At Euromonitor, we look at the consumer surveys and cross-reference them with consumer behaviour to get a full picture of a trend.
MB: If you owned a vending company, what five tactics would you employ to capitalize on the snacking trend?
- Focus on healthy foods and beverages. Carry items like organic chocolate, vegan, gluten-free, low sugar.
- Products that allow the consumer to customize to their taste are big. Water that comes with a small capsule of flavour to pour into the water to flavour it. Yogurts in packaging with half yogurt and the other half containing toppings such as grains and dried fruits are big too.
- Differentiated products such as those with hemp as an ingredient or foods rich in omega fatty acids are important to focus on. We’re seeing them pop up at Costco and when that happens you know the trend has hit mainstream.
- Consider offering ethnic products. Naan was once a niche delicacy and is now commonplace in grocery stores. Millennials are particularly open to ethnic foods due to the influence of technology and social media.
- Incorporate consumer education by using technology. A digital screen can display product information about the ingredients and tell a story about the product.