Contrary to “the trendy, health-oriented articles that advocate for healthier snacking multiple times per day as a way to increase wellness,” CivicScience found “more frequently snacking actively corresponds generally with greater calorie consumption and a less healthy lifestyle.”
Specifically, the organization found 51% of the 2,300 U.S. consumers 13 years and older who it polled in mid-April confessed to eating more than one snack per day, and that they are more likely to prefer sweet snacks than single- or non-snackers.
“In fact, the more often someone snacks, the higher the overall preference for sweet snacks,” according to the report. This aligns with market analysis from IRI that found consumer prefers indulgent snacks.
One of the main reasons that multli-snackers say they don’t eat healthier is because they have too much work and not enough time, which suggests they turn to snacks because they are convenient, the report adds.
In addition, multi-snackers tend to be more sedentary than those who snack less with 25% saying TV is a “passion of theirs” and that they watch multiple hours daily compared to 20% of single-snackers and 15% of non-snackers, according to the report.
A recent study by researchers at Cornell University also found that watching television while eating can lead to more calorie consumption, depending on the type of television. Sad or action-packed shows were more likely to inspire more eating than informational or happy shows.
This may be one reason why multi-snackers more likely reported seeing themselves as less physically active than non- or single-snackers.
Surprisingly, multi-snackers tend to be younger adults or those in their early mid-life, which contradicts the image of the “young, virile Millennial market maven who setting new snacking trends,” according to CivicScience.
The healthy snacker
Consumers who eat only one snack per day tend to select healthier foods, be more active and be older, according to CivicScience.
The poll found 48% of healthy snackers are older than 55 years compared to 38% of all U.S. adults, and 50% are more likely to exercise several times per week. In addition, they are 87% more likely to buy organic food regularly and believe that brand and price are equally important in purchasing foods.
While they watch less TV on average than multi-snackers, they are 15% more likely to do so live versus streaming or on-demand, which means that they are slightly more receptive to TV ads.
Like multi-snackers, healthy snackers are less likely to try new products before others, which does not bode well for innovators in the health snack market, the report notes.
Given this stumbling block, CivicScience suggests the “market mavens” who are most likely to try and talk about new products before others are actually non-snackers.
This is a challenge for snack makers, but the report notes that “it certainly may be possible to convert them to snackers with the right offering.”
CivicScience does not suggest how best to reach this group, but start-ups in the food space have luck with demonstrations, giving away products at live events where they can talk about the brand and innovative displays and promotions – such as aisle end caps – at retailers that catch consumers’ attention.