Nielsen research identifies key snacking behaviour as basis for better understanding consumer shopping choices


A new study by Nielsen, the data and measurement company, has identified seven consumer snacking profiles as a way to better understand the shopping behaviours driving the snacking category, and has also uncovered insight into weekday versus weekend snacking.

According to Nielsen’s latest ‘The Power of Snacking’ report, the traditional view that snacking decisions are unplanned and impulsive is no longer the case in the modern category: the research has shown that snacking purchases are much more diverse and complex.

The study identified seven snacker ‘profiles’ that consumer behaviour falls into:

–          Impulsive Snackers, who are more likely to try new snacks, pick up a snack near the checkout, and to eat it straight away. This profile is closest to the traditional stereotype.

–          Planned Snackers, who regularly pre-plan the various snacks they’ll eat over the course of the day.

–          Meal Replacement Snackers, functional snackers who have missed a core meal and want something to refuel and keep them going.

–          Healthy Snackers, who are actively looking for fruit and vegetable-based snacks that are low in sugar or salt, have primarily natural sugars and are organic.

–          Investigator Snackers, who take a more considered approach to snacking, taking into account the mix of ingredients, pack size, choice of brands and more.

–          Promotional Snackers, whose choices are based solely on price.

–          Indulgent Snackers, who purchase their snacks based on emotion, specifically as a treat.

Joanna Parman, sales effectiveness business partner at Nielsen, said: “Snacking will always be wrapped up in a mixture of physiological and emotional needs, and the profiles we have identified are not exclusive; it’s possible for a single snacker to move through all seven profiles. The key is to better understand these variances and identify where the opportunities exist to unlock growth for brands and retailers.”

Nielsen’s study also contains findings around how snacks are consumed on weekdays versus weekends.

For all seven snacker types, snacks in the Fruit & Veg category are the top choice on weekdays: 93% of shoppers turn to fruit and vegetables during the week. Tea, water and coffee are the next snacks of choice for all profiles, showing that these are unanimous staple snacks to get consumers through the working week.Impulsive, Planned, and Investigator Snackers opt for breakfast bars to round out their top five weekday snacks, whereas Meal Replacement, Healthy andIndulgent Snackers prefer yoghurt.

While all snacker types seem to abide by more strict and healthy snacking habits during the work-week, they find time for indulgent treats once the weekend rolls around. Chocolate, cakes, and popcorn all were included in the top five weekend snacks for the seven profiles, while cola and sweets appeared in five of the seven. It was only Healthy and Planned snackers, who managed to find room for fruit and vegetables in their weekend snacking menu.

Parman concluded: “If fruit and vegetables are the major cues that shoppers use to make their weekday snacking decisions, manufacturers can use this insight to better tailor their products. This could be through recipe changes or increased on-pack communication to highlight the natural fruit and veg ingredients, with the aim of drawing demand for midweek consumption. It’s also important to note that while health is key on the snacking agenda, there is still a big role for the traditional core snacking products to play in driving growth and should be supported accordingly in store.”