Guest article

Asian millennials have evolved and so has snacking

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

The snacking landscape in Asia has evolved, particularly driven by the younger generations. Pic: GettyImages/yacobchuk
The snacking landscape in Asia has evolved, particularly driven by the younger generations. Pic: GettyImages/yacobchuk

Related tags Asia snacking Millennials Social media better for you Health and wellness ethical sourcing Sustainability snacking with a purpose vegan

Snacking – a familiar term that used to represent the habit of junking between meals – is today part of the millennials lifestyle. Noorul Malik, savvy millennial and marketing & communications executive, APAC, SGK Global, looks at how urbanisation, industrialisation, and cultural expansion have reframed snacking in Asia.
Noorul Malik
Noorul Malik

In Asia, rising living standards and premiumisation are shaping the way people interact with their surroundings and food habits. Consumers look forward to innovative or customised products to integrate with their chosen lifestyle, which generally pushes them away from the three standard meals-a-day concept towards the readily-accessible snacking on-the-go idea.

Millennials’ choice of snacking is strongly connected to social media.

It forms the perfect platform to explore and push new ideas by both consumers and brands. The majority of fusion ideas and revitalising conventional flavours brought through social media livens the snacking industry with constant evolution of snacks.

Super social media savvy

While social media helps create buzz around an old (and forgotten) diet, it also elevates the connectivity and experiences of new product launches. Considering Asia is the largest market for snacking, innovations are expected to lead up.

The high level of interest from millennials in sharing their food choices on social media allows brands to understand what millennials are currently gravitating towards.

They love it when traditional meets new. These inspirations can translate to product innovations to meet the gaps in the industry.

For example, Asian millennials generally do not like fish skin due to its unpalatable taste and texture. However, when that same skin was deepfried and sprinkled with salted egg flavouring, it turned out to be a massive hit among the generation that once did not see its value.

Visual representation of combining heritage flavours to the modern crisp was an instant disruptor in the market and raved about on social media.

Drive to simplify lifestyle

Consumers are more aware of their diet and continually trying out new mixes to ease their daily schedules. They sacrifice meal planning and preparation for the time to commute to work or meeting deadlines. This opens up avenues for the snacking industry to support time-constrained consumers with snacks on-the-go.

F&B companies are answering the quick fix need with smaller and pre-packed options. For example, hybrid yoghurt dessert cups can be consumed for breakfast, in between meals, or enjoyed as a dessert. Packaging the toppings in a separate pod attached to the yoghurt cup offers a mess-free substitute for convenience-seeking consumers.

More health conscious

The single-serve snacking trend synchronises with the  global wellness trend, opening up the market for better-for-you snacks.

In Asia, the conscious snacking habit drives consumers’ focal point towards sustainability and ethical sourcing, production methods and healthy snacks.

Today, millennials and Gen Zs are the primary snackers who lean towards better-for-you snacks to quell their intrusive hunger and stay energised throughout the day.

The healthy snacking trend is also driving demand away from categories such as biscuits and chips towards snacks like nuts, seeds and trail mixes. In fact, the nuts and dried fruits market has seen a 58.3% growth in the past three years in China, ensuring APAC has the highest share of the global market. Similarly, 92% of Indonesian snackers rank vitamin-rich, low-sugar and fresh as the top three preferences in their choice of snacks – redefining Asia’s snacking attitude towards a more health-conscious habit.

Socially responsible

Mindful snacking emphasises efforts on sustainability, ethical sourcing and production.

The younger generation of snackers is more wary of attributes of where and how the ingredients were sourced and manufactured.

They feel responsible for their purchase and its impact on societal concerns such as the welfare of the employees, animal rights and global sustainability of the environment.

And this is a clear evidence of the growing importance on ‘snacking with purpose’ more than just to satisfy a craving.

(Re)choosing to be vegan

This global trend is fuelling Asia’s vegetarian/vegan snacking culture, although the trend is not a new phenomenon in the region.

Plant-based alternatives typically feed an incredible variety to most Asian’s snacking habit as being a vegetarian is typical because of religious reasons. Now, the lifestyle has been given a boost thanks to the hype from western culture and social media. 

In summary, snacking has evolved from a hunger pang solution to a sustainable and wellness lifestyle. Let's not forget that millennials and Gen Zs provide a rich bed of info on changing food habits - which differ and are customised based on the geography and lifestyle they carry - but in essence, this means opting for convenience that promotes healthy eating and reduces waste with a lower environmental footprint.

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