The snack industry’s market is worth $374 billion worldwide and offers significant opportunities for savvy distributors, food retailers, and manufacturers.

These opportunities are obtainable worldwide, including developing countries, where many people enjoy the nutrition and accessibility that snacks bring to the table. The industry has a 2 percent overall annual growth, but developing countries produce twice that growth level. The snack industry is expanding as a whole, although some countries provide better growth opportunities than others. Your brand not only needs to create snack-sized bites, but you also need to understand how consumers shop for snacks so you have effective marketing strategies.

Consumer Snacking Motivations

The first step to effectively target the growing snack market is understanding why people snack. Sitting down for a full meal is difficult for many people, and snacking often frees time. The biggest snacking motivation revolves around enjoyment – 75 percent of snackers indulge to cut down on hunger or cravings until they can get to the next meal. Another primary motivator is nutrition, which is important to 63 percent of the snacking audience.

The parents of millennials are the snack industry’s trendsetters. They often have a focus on better-for-you snack options that feature quality ingredients, less sugar and less fat than other snacks. However, millennials are beginning to influence snacking trends, so marketing to both is the key to growing sales.

How Different Consumers Shop for Snacks

Effective snack retail execution depends on how your target audience shops for snacks. In some regions, such as the Asia-Pacific, there is a heavy emphasis on planned snacking. Most regions have a balance of planned, purposeful and spontaneous snackers, spotted with different shopping styles. Your snack’s retail execution needs to match the type of snacker you’re aiming to reach, because each consumer takes a different approach to purchasing.

Snack planners, as a consumer demographic, have brand awareness of product selections – in fact, 63 percent of this demographic goes straight to the aisle. Snack planners primarily purchase snacks to eat at home, so large snacks and bulk-packaged snacks are part of purchasing habits. These snacks are eaten throughout the week or over longer time periods, depending on the family’s food planning routine.

For tech-savvy millennial snackers, build brand awareness through digital channels, such as social networks. Hillshire has a line of high-protein snacks aimed at millennials, and the brand’s marketing builds awareness through social media.

Purposeful snackers may not know exactly what kind of snack they want to eat, but they know the snack’s characteristics. For example, sustainable ingredients, on-sale snacks or name brands are a few things this snacking demographic looks for. Attract the interest of these snackers by emphasizing unique characteristics of your snacks, such as those made with fair-trade ingredients or that adhere to specific dietary restrictions.

Spontaneous snackers don’t plan out their snack purchases and 63 percent purchase a variety of snacks. They look for snacks that catch their interest when shopping at convenient locations. This snacker demographic enjoys new snacks, so they make an excellent test market for your new products and ideas. Thirty-one percent of these snackers make selections because of point-of-sale displays, so make sure your marketing is designed to appeal to their impulse needs.

Adapt to Snack Trends

Snack trends fluctuate, so you need real-time information to understand what’s most important to your consumers at any given moment. Retail mobile data collection tools help you discover snack product trends instantly so you can quickly adapt to changing marketplace trends. Instead of waiting for your field team to report back on retail execution, find out immediately whether your snacks are catching the attention of your target audience.

Grocery stores are the most popular retail channel for snack purchases globally, but consumers shop in many other locations. Hypermarkets, convenient stores, specialty stores, warehouse clubs, and local neighborhood stores offer additional retail channels to consider for snack distribution. Furthermore, the preferred retail channels vary for each region. In some areas, such as the Asia-Pacific, snack purchases are distributed fairly evenly across multiple store categories. In other areas, such as North America, the numbers are weighed heavily towards grocery stores and hypermarkets.

You may need to adjust your snack merchandising if your current in-store marketing does not correctly target a certain snacking demographic. Switching to strategically positioned end-cap and point-of-sale displays can help you optimize sales. The right mobile data collection tool lets you confirm that retail execution is done properly and provides you with information you need to continue improvements.

The bottom line is this: There are significant opportunities in the snack industry, especially in developing countries. By identifying whether your snackers are impulse shoppers or planners, and their favorite types of snacks, you can seamlessly implement strategy. Snack motivation and preferences vary by region, so mobile retail data collection tools help you hone in on exactly what your target consumers are looking for.

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