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Snacking Behaviors: Five Trends and an Appetizing Future

05 May 2022 Elizabeth McHugh

in Food & Beverage, Retail, Trending


Much is going on in the snack space. As 69% of consumers agree that anything can be considered a snack, it is hard to determine actual market size, but snacking was buoyed during the pandemic and the five-year outlook is positive.

  1. Younger Generations See Snacking Differently

Not only do they snack more than older generations, but younger consumers are more likely to view snacks as a source of nutrients and health, or as a meal replacement. 30% of 18-34-year-old men and 27% of women that same age snack four times a day or more; compare that to only 6% of men and 8% of women aged 55+ who report the same. Consumers who snack two or three times a day are much more common across all generations, though that frequency is most popular among women:

63% of 35-54-year-old and 61% of 18-34-year-old women say they snack twice or three times a day.

Meanwhile, men over 55 are the most likely to report infrequent snacking, with 36% snacking only once a day.

  1. Snacking (Overall) Has Increased

Consumers who snack two-to-three times a day increased from 50% in 2015, to 53% in 2018, to 55% in 2021. On the flip side, those who snack just once a day decreased from 29% in 2019, to 24% in 2018, to 22% in 2021.

Snacking, of course, became easier during the pandemic, as many consumers didn’t have to plan or pack snacks for the office. Snack bars, a sub-segment, suffered from the decrease in on-the-go lifestyles—but saw a slight rebound in 2021.

Snacking innovation has leaned healthier—and new options that align with keto, gluten-free, plant-based, or paleo lifestyles have removed emotions like guilt from the equation.

Many women in our research community, Glimmer, show a preference for healthy snacking:

I love to snack and try to pick healthy options; usually nuts, fruits, and vegetables are staples for me. I let weekends be my splurge days for pretzels, chips, crackers, and cheese!”


“I recently started a ketogenic diet and I’ve been using Instagram, Pinterest, and blogs for snack ideas. My favorites are simple snacks, like almonds, avocado, and string cheese.”

“Generally, my snacks are made from raw food: homemade smoothies or treats. I try to be as consistently raw and unprocessed as possible!” 

  1. Delicious Matters More Than Anything

The fundamentals still matter most! When choosing a snack, 63% of consumers report that flavor is most important, making it far and away the top deciding factor. Calories come in second, at 32%; younger generations are less likely to consider calories, and so we expect calories to become even less important in future.

One consumer wrote: “I discovered my latest favorite snack brand at work: Dang Coconut Chips!”

And another responded: “OMG…I discovered those a while ago too—they are so delicious!!”

  1. Brands: There’s Still Room for Newness

69% of consumers enjoy trying new snacks—it’s fun! In fact, 66% wish there were more healthy options: there is plenty of opportunity for and interest in more snack innovation. A majority, 65%, also report they are willing to pay more for higher quality snacks; we’ll watch to see if sentiments change with 2022’s inflationary pressures. And speaking of inflation…

  1. Watch In-Store for Discovery

Grocery store foot traffic fell in Q1 2022 vs. the previous quarter but was up 4.6% YoY. Consumers are returning in-store and grocery will remain strong as consumers eat at home to keep spending in check. Many consumers will seek ways to save in this inflationary environment, potentially disrupting loyalty.

Our own research has shown changes in in-store discovery behaviors: in 2020, 65% of consumers reported that in-store was their top discovery resource. In 2021, that number fell to 60%. Even as vaccines and boosters rolled out, consumers had learned the value of quick shopping trips and relied on additional resources for discovery.

Our Glimmer community members weighed in on where they discovered their favorite new snacks:

My new favorite snack is Turtle Chips and I discovered them on TikTok!

“Mostly stores, sampling, and social media.”

“The Target app looking for things to supplement my order.”

“I saw it on the grocery store shelf—a refrigerated snack bar called Perfect Bar.”

 At Stella Rising, an unparalleled understanding of consumers—powered in part by our own consumer community—meets expert analytics and savvy media strategy. Through retail media, Amazon, ecommerce, and brick and mortar, we help CPG brands shine in a competitive marketplace. Connect with us to learn how we can power your brand.


Sources: Mintel: “Snack, Nutrition and Performance Bars, U.S.,” 2022, “Snacking Motivations and Attitudes, U.S., 2022,” Glimmer Survey 2020 - 2022, Placer.ai 2022

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