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Snack Nation


As I listened to Laurie Demeritt, CEO of The Hartman Group, expound on the results of a study undertaken with Food Marketing Institute (FMI) – "2015 U.S Grocery Shopper Trends" – at FMI Connect last week, one particular nugget of information lodged in my brain: As Americans continue to embrace the concept of anytime snacking, they're carving out new, previously unexplored dayparts, such as the "pre-breakfast" occasion, which Demeritt explained provides partakers with a needed "energy boost" in advance of the main morning meal.

The very idea intrigued me: Who imagined that anything came before the supposed first meal of the day? Then I wondered, how can food retailers capitalize on this?

One solution immediately came to mind. Many grocers already have a grab-and-go breakfast area offering yogurt parfaits in cups and other handheld items, but what about prominently positioned displays offering single granola bars, packs of dry cereal, wrapped mini muffins and even snack-pack containers of fresh fruit to tide shoppers over before they pause to dig into their chief a.m. purchase?

Slap a conspicuous sign over the items, saying, "Get your Pre-breakfast Groove on," or words to that effect, and encourage customers and associates to share their favorite early-morning bites via social media and/or placards providing in-store personal recommendations, and you'll be riding the crest of the pre-breakfast wave. The effort can be further fortified with contests challenging shoppers to discover the ideal pre-breakfast nosh, and in-store demos offering them a quick bite as they browse the aisles.

The proliferation of snacking among U.S. consumers should spur stores to meet their needs in the form of items like those mentioned above, along with making sure they know just where they can pick up the perfect item to curb their hunger. That goes for any other time, too: mid-morning, late afternoon, pre-dinner, after-dinner or late night. The really fun – and important – part of it all is creating a sense of community based on snacking, whether alone or, preferably, with a companion.

The United States has become Snack Nation, so we might as well pledge allegiance to our preferred nibbles – along with fellow members of the allied supplied chain, and, last but not least, to the shoppers, whose wants and needs are what keep food retailers in business.

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