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Expert Column: Assessing the Snacking Habits of Consumers


New Nielsen research has found that global snackers tend to fall into three types -- Planner, Spontaneous or Purposeful -- and this is useful information for marketers who can cater to these three specific types of snackers through their messaging and in-store shopper marketing efforts.

Planning Ahead

A large percentages of global respondents are Planners. They eat snacks at home (79 percent), with family and friends (68 percent), and they have a few snacks they keep in rotation (68 percent). These consumers tend to buy snacks in the store aisle (63 percent) and know exactly what they want when they get to the store (56 percent). A smaller percentage plans and carries the snacks eaten each day (36 percent). Asia-Pacific respondents exceed the global averages for snack planning.

Marketers need to reach this type of snacker before he or she get to the store. Reach them through websites, fliers, marketing and social media. They're less adventurous than other types of snackers, so your marketing efforts should educate them about the benefits of a snack. These types of snackers head straight to the appropriate aisle when they get to the store, so make sure the target product is at eye level and accessible.

Spontaneous Combustion

The second largest group is Spontaneous. These global respondents like to try new snacks (65 percent), buy a variety of snacks (63 percent), and don’t plan their snack purchases (58 percent). These consumers often eat snacks as soon as they buy them (48 percent), and tend to buy snacks at the checkout counter (31 percent). The largely developing regions of Asia-Pacific, Middle East/Africa and Latin America exceed the global averages for such spontaneous snacker characteristics. North American respondents lead the way for buying a variety of snacks (70 percent). These are the snackers most likely to try out a new product on the shelves.

This group of snackers is the most adventurous and makes purchase decisions in the store. Catch their eye with attractive in-store signage and sampling programs. These snackers are the first to try out a new product and respond well to messaging about the "innovative" nature of a snack. They also make a large percentage of their purchases at checkout from the impulse-buy section, so make sure products you want them to buy are placed there for easy access.

Purpose Driven

Purposeful snackers, the third group, know what they want in a snack. They're highly selective about what they choose. These global respondents prefer snacks with ingredients that are sourced sustainably (56 percent), and will pay extra for Fair Trade snacks (47 percent). Confectionery such as fair trade chocolate and premium varieties of chocolate are good examples. Purposeful snackers prefer to buy name-brand snacks (51 percent), and many will only buy snacks that are on sale (37 percent). North Americans have the highest percentage of respondents that buy snacks on sale (43 percent). For sustainably sourced snack ingredients, the highest percentages of respondents live in Asia-Pacific (68 percent), while for brand-name snacks, it's the Middle East (63 percent).

To reach this group of conscientious snackers, marketers need to tailor their messaging to emphasize the product attributes of sustainability, Fair Trade and premium, as these terms resonate the most with these consumers. This group of snackers is the most brand-loyal, and while they're willing to pay extra for snacks with the qualities that are important to them, they're also most likely to be deal-sensitive, only buying snacks that are on sale. To attract these snackers, reach them through out-of-store and in-store promotional activities such as coupons.

For more information on the overall snacking category, see PG's story on the results of Nielsen's global snacking study.

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