By Jim Dudlicek, NGA Director of Communications and External Affairs
Pandemic culture is rife with jokes about folks exercising less and eating more as they snack their way through sheltering in place.
But the surge in snacking is no joke, as a new study from Mondelēz International demonstrates, and opens opportunities for grocery retailers to help consumers eat what and how they want and, perhaps, eat better.
Almost nine in 10 global adults (88%) say they are snacking more (46%) or the same (42%) during the pandemic than before, according to the second annual State of Snacking report, a global consumer trends study from Mondelēz and The Harris Poll that examines the role of snacking in the lives of consumers around the world.
The 2020 report underlines the growth in snacking worldwide and how behavior, sentiment and routines surrounding food are being reshaped by COVID-19.
Quite frankly, given what most experienced industry folks have observed and learned over the years, the report’s revelations should come as no surprise.
For example: Those who are working from home right now being especially likely to say they prefer snacks over meals (67%). And more than half of respondents say snacking has been a “lifeline” during the pandemic (52%), especially parents who are working from home (69 percent).
“Snacking also offers bite-sized moments of satisfaction and peace, with a majority of respondents noting it has helped distract them from a trying year,” according to the study findings.
Isolation is also driving behavior. “Snacking is an antidote for loneliness and an avenue for connection, as three in four global adults have made a connection with others via food in the last six months (77%), including making a snack together (40%), giving a snack as a gift (31%) or grocery shopping for someone who could not go themselves (29%),” the study says.
Snacking, particularly in times of crisis, historically is associated with comfort food. But health is emerging as a driver of comfort, as the study reveals that consumers are highlighting the importance of snacks that enable them to lead healthier lifestyles and boost emotional well-being.
“Snacking at home is providing consumers with more opportunities for mindful snacking, with two thirds (66%) of respondents noting they now have more control over their portion sizes and that they are now more aware of the snacks their bodies need (64%),” the study says, noting that snacks are also nourishing their “body, mind and soul during these strange times.” Other consumers are interested in immunity-boosting snacks (56%) and nearly two thirds of respondents noted that snacking has given them “much needed moments” to themselves (65%).
But perhaps more important than the “why” to grocery retailers is the “how.” According to the study, virtual snack shopping “has reached a tipping point,” with almost of half of respondents buying online. Half of global adults say they have started to buy snacks online more often than they do in-store or offline (47%), with seven in 10 planning to continue shopping for snacks online once the pandemic is over (69%).
“A majority say the pandemic has opened their eyes to so many more ways to get snacks than they knew existed before (57%), including three in 10 who have discovered snacks to try on social media (28%),” the study says.
As grocers continue to enhance their e-commerce platforms, they should keep consumers’ snacking demands top of mind. Snacking solutions both in-store and online should address desires for both comfort and good health. Snacks should be easy to obtain while feeding mind, body and soul.
The better you deliver on these needs, the more often consumers will think of you first anytime the jones hits.
The Mondelēz International 2020 State of Snacking report is available at https://www.mondelezinternational.com/stateofsnacking.