The three-meals-a-day routine is a relic of the past, as eating patterns conform to today’s busy lifestyles. One major outcome of this shift is the blurring of snacks and meals. The Hartman Group identifies three eating occasions that reflect the change—all of which can be opportunities for restaurants.
- Immediate consumption represents 15 percent of eating occasions. About 65 percent of these impulse eaters who are not going to restaurants consume food at home.
- Alone eating represents 47 percent of eating occasions. People who eat alone are not necessarily lonely; 43 percent enjoy solo eating as a way to catch up on other activities.
- Snacks now represent 50 percent of eating occasions; 80 percent of snacking takes place at home. Although snacks are bound by fewer rules than meals, consumers expect more satisfaction from them than ever before. At various times, 90 percent of consumers are engaging in modern snacking, eating whenever and however they want. This “fluid eating” is very flexible and unstructured.