Snacks set to benefit from home eating trend

Related tags Consumers Marketing Datamonitor

Consumers in the future will eat fewer meals at home as eating out
becomes increasingly convenient, but snacking in front of the TV
will continue to play an important role as consumers wind down
after increasingly hectic working days, claim market analysts

The consumer of today and tomorrow will eat fewer dinners in the home, opting instead to dine out for convenience reasons, claims a new report from market research company Datamonitor. However, staying in is still important as we increasingly use the home as a haven to escape the hectic pace of life in the outside world.

So what does this mean for the food industry? According to Datamonitor, all of these social changes mean big business. Despite fewer dinners consumed at home, the snacks market is benefiting from an upswing as consumers, munching in front of the TV, bring their on-the-go snacking habits into their homes. In addition, although dinners at home are in decline, people are predicted to spend more on them,in particular higher priced convenience foods.

According to the report, consumers are set to stay in at home less and less as they choose to go out more often to eat, drink and party. In particular, an increasing tendency to dine outfor convenience reasons during the working week and not just for 'specialoccasions' will drive going out.

During the period 2002 to 2007, staying-in occasions during the week are set to decline at an annual rate of 1.2 per cent compared to declines of 0.5 per cent for staying-in during the weekend.

"Staying in is not the new going-out, since consumers are increasingly going out in the evenings rather than staying in. But, certain trends aresignificantly changing the nature of staying in. Key behavioural changes include a greater likelihood of using the home as a haven to escape the increasingly hectic pace of life in the 'outside' world,"​ said Dominik Nosalik, Datamonitor consumer marketsanalyst and author of the report.

"It is also an ideal opportunity to de-stress and indulge in pampering routines. The rise of high performance in-home entertainment systems means that consumers are able to amuse themselves in ways that rival out-of-home possibilities,"​ he added.

Single people and childless couples are set to drive growth in the at-home dinner market. By 2007, singles and childless couples will account for more spending on dinners than families. Currently, families account for 45 per cent of spending on the European at-home dinner market, but in five years' time this will fall to 42 per cent with 'pre-family' consumers representing 43 per cent of the at-home dinner market.

According to the report, the key factor in this decline is the breakdown of the nuclear family. By 2007 there will be 10.2 million fewer family members inEurope. Pre-family consumers will continue to account for the highest per capita spending on take-out and prepared meals. Young, single workers typically have high convenience needs and remain an important target for convenience food manufacturers.

But the report highlights the fact that the over 50s also have convenience needs.

'Empty nesters' (people over 50 whose children have flown the nest - or have never had children) have food convenience needs that are often overlooked but will become increasingly important for marketers to target in the future, writes the report.

For a start, empty nesters do have convenience needs that may be less obvious. For example, many of these consumers may have time pressures from looking after grandchildren and from pursuing leisure activities.

More significant is the fact that growing numbers of empty nesters will work inthe future - current demographics point towards a shortfall in the number of younger workers being able to support the needs of a growing body of older consumers in Europe.

According to Datamonitor, empty nesters will increase by almost 5 million people to reach a total of 65.6 million in 2007. As a result, a greater number of older consumers will need to work, either part-time or full-time, to maintain their increasingly longer and more active lifestyles. Therefore, working empty nester consumers will suffer similar time pressures to younger workers. In addition, many baby boomers have been become used to using convenience foods as part of their diet and these eating habits are likely to carry over into their later years.

Although at-home dinners are in decline, the same is not true of evening snacking. In fact, snacking in the home is set to increase over the period 2002-2007.

European consumers snacked in the home (in the evening) an average of 5.4 times per week in 2002, and this is set to rise to 5.6 times per week over the next five years. Many people do not have the energy to cook a meal, or will wait a while before preparing one after work. In the meantime, people snack - the most popular time to snack in the evening is soon after consumers get in after work or study (49 per cent typically do so at this time).

Aslifestyles become increasingly individualised and hectic, snacking has evolved to become a more familiar part of our eating repertoire - and doing so at home is no different.

The television has clearly had an influence on the at home snacking trend. Datamonitor claims that snacking at home is strongly driven by the frequency with which people eat while watching television. Apparently, 96 per cent of consumers in Datamonitor's survey said they snacked in front of the TV and 94 per cent did so when they rented out a film.

Bad news for the waistline but good news for the manufacturer, Datamonitor claims that many consumers are not aware of how much they eat in frontof the TV or how often they do this. The growth of large tub and grab packformats, such as 'Hula Hoop Minis', are poised perfectly to capitalise onthis sort of inattentive eating.

According to Datamonitor, when we do choose to stay in rather than go out, the quality of those "occasions" will be greater.

Although we are staying in less than before, a number of factors will lead to many of us increasingly making an "occasion" of staying in. The search for personal 'space' will increase as the outside world becomes a busier place and consumers increasingly recognise the potential of the home as a haven to indulge themselves or de-stress from the pressures of hectic lifestyles.

As households increasingly fragment, more consumers will have the opportunity of a place all to themselves on a more regular basis and therefore exercise making an occasion of staying-in.

Increasingly powerful in-home technologies are facilitatingconsumers' ability to maximise the quality of their nights in to rival out-of-home possibilities.

When consumers make an "occasion" of staying in, they have different needsfrom routine evenings at-home. The key change, writes Datamonitor​, is that consumers will be seeking to satisfy one, or more, leisure needs - such as comfort, fun, informality or peace and calm - and that they will avoid work or chores if possible.

This affords consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the chance to target these "occasions" with premium offerings.

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