Understanding the Modern-Day Snacker

Before you take the snack game by storm, get familiar with your customer base

Capturing a piece of the snack pie begins with understanding the customer. According to research by the Hartman Group, 64 percent of consumers feel that snacking is essential to get through the day. In fact, the Hartman report says snacking accounts for nearly 50 percent of all eating occasions.

Numbers can tell a story but you’ll need to test theories yourself. Here’s a start:

Some 79 percent of consumers snack in the afternoon, says hospitality research firm Technomic. So why not consider promoting an afternoon snack menu of customer favorites at the bar or the dining room? If you serve breakfast or lunch, offer to-go snacks to cure the afternoon lull that hits 9 to 5 office workers.

Operators that serve breakfast might want to pay special attention to a statistic from Technomic’s 2016 snacking report as an opportunity to offer snacks. Lunch is most likely to be replaced by a snack (55 percent) versus breakfast (42 percent) and dinner (10 percent).

Technomic says 73 percent of consumers in the trend report will pay more for snacks made with high quality ingredients. Some 50 percent of them would be motivated to buy more from specialty snack shops based on quality, according to the report.

And what about healthy snacks? For those surveyed by Mintel last year, only half of the respondents indicated that “healthfulness is very important” when choosing a snack. It makes sense to balance indulgence with healthy options.

Size is always important when it comes to snacks. The Technomic trend report says

41 percent of consumers agree that any food can be a snack if the portion is small but

59 percent say it’s important that snacks aren’t too large. The study doesn’t account for the “just right” size so you’ll need to balance portions with other profitability factors such as food and labor costs.

With these statistics to consider, which snacks are the most profitable? If you go by a 2016 Datassential report based on operator responses, the list would include shareable appetizers, such as dips, charcuterie and cheese (82 percent); savory, hand-held items like burgers and hotdogs (81 percent); small plates (81 percent); grab and go sandwiches (81 percent); and fried appetizers (80 percent).

As you test these numbers, share your findings. Posting photos of the dishes on social media will help promote your snacks. Tag us @FoodFanatics and include hashtags to increase your reach.