Millennials continue to influence UK snack market

Global snacking firm Pladis has revealed its insights into ‘the new breed of snackers’ in the UK, with younger consumers snacking more than any previous generation.

This, the company says, is triggered largely by the erosion of traditional food rituals such as set meal times; with Pladis seeing the emergence of the ‘fourth meal’.

With their high levels of social media usage, millennials hold a lot of influence over the UK snacking industry. “We call them the ‘taste makers’ among their peer group, they make much quicker purchases and buy fewer groceries online than you might think,” explains Colette Noé, senior director for consumer and market insights at Pladis.

She adds, “We know that millennials are a more visual generation than their parents were; they need to be tempted by a particular type of packaging or instantly register how a product fits into their busy lifestyle.”

While millennials’ incomes may have decreased compared to previous generations, they often choose an indulgent treat or wholesome snack as a quick pick me up in favour of a full meal, Pladis says.

According to a Snack Hack report by Mintel, young consumers are more likely than any other generation to snack, and one in four are now ‘Super Snackers’ who snack four or more times in a single day.

At the other end of the spectrum, 2017 data from Euromonitor International shows that the fastest growing consumer segment is the over 50s, which has grown by a third in the last three years. While it’s no surprise millennials are generally more experimental in their snacking habits and more open to trying new fillings or textures in a biscuit, Pladis also acknowledges the purchasing power of their parents.

“For the baby boomer generation, biscuit-buying is part of their routine and they are more determined to cut through the choice in the supermarket aisle to get to the value product, so need to be marketed to in different ways,” Noé says.

Pladis also notes that it has seen increasing demand for products that are easy to buy, store, transport and that can be consumed on the go, or which are easily shareable.

In addition, the company says consumers are becoming more mindful about what they eat. They often want portion control but they won’t compromise on things like taste, quality or familiarity. In some cases, consumers are looking for a more sensory experience – as seen by the explosion in salted caramel flavoured snacks in 2017 or products with added protein.

Noé adds, “The boundary between meals and snacks is blurring. Most people understand a meal to be influenced by cultural traditions around timing, setting and specific food groups. Snacks, on the other hand, are highly personalised and variable mini meals.”

In 2017, Pladis launched new products such as McVitie’s Chocolate Digestive Thins by accelerating product journeys from concept to shelf, recognising that when big brands act with a ‘start-up mentality’ and are more agile, they better fulfill consumers’ needs.

The Godiva Masterpieces collection was unveiled in the UK earlier this year, bringing chocolates such as its Dark Chocolate Ganache Hearts and Caramel Lion of Belgium to the grocery aisle for the first time. The new range (sold exclusively in UK supermarket, Sainsbury’s) has made Godiva’s luxury chocolate more accessible and introduced artisan chocolate to a new audience.

Pladis plans to announce further category expansion next year and tap into new snacking sectors and consumer needs.

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