Americans’ penchant for noshing outside traditional meal periods has posed an opportunity some restaurants are missing because they don’t grasp the emerging market’s nuances, according to a new study from Technomic.
The Chicago researcher discovered, for instance, that 83 percent of consumers snack at least once a day, yet very few indulge that hunger in a full-service restaurant.
That’s just one surprising dynamic of what some call the fifth daypart (though purists note there are actually four snacking occasions). Here are a few other currents that are shaping that market, according to Technomic’s survey of consumers.
1. Bigger isn’t necessarily better
Price is no more of a factor in meeting a customer’s snacking needs than portion size, according to the Technomic data. Indeed, the public apparently is taking a cue from Goldilocks: The ideal snack is neither too large nor too small, but just right. And that consideration is just as important as the cost, Technomic found.
5. A health halo
Gone are the days when the term “snacks” was synonymous with greasy finger foods eaten from a ripped-open cellophane bag. Consumers have redefined snacks, viewing them today as potentially healthful components of a sound diet. Look for more restaurants and retailers to play to that perception with additional health-minded snacking choices, said Technomic.
6. Snacks aren’t cannibalizing regular meals
Technomic discovered that snacks are not replacing breakfast, lunch or dinner, but serving as an add-on eating occasion. The researcher noted that breakfast items in particular are serving as an attractive between-meal option to consumers.
More of the report is available from Technomic.