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By Molly McFarland, co-founder and CRO, AdAdapted

Americans, particularly millennials, have a penchant for snacking throughout the day, as reported by recent studies from Circana and 84.51°. The growing lifestyle trend could be attributed to dieting or living busier lives, as the research notes, but it undoubtedly presents a huge digital opportunity for brands.

CPGs across categories can target snack-happy consumers on the move and serve them “snackable” digital content that gets their items into the rotation. Younger consumers, relying heavily on their mobile devices throughout the day and a variety of snack items for different cravings, will be open to engaging. 

Snack brands have mobile and online tools available that can reach consumers throughout the day, presenting targeted content based on that daypart and the larger snacking trend overall.

What the research says about all-day snacking 

According to the results of Circana’s 2023 Snacking Survey, nearly half of all respondents said they eat three or more snacks during the day, a 4% increase from two years ago. For millennials, those ages 25 to 34, nearly seven in 10 respondents said they eat that many snacks daily.

Supporting those numbers, research from 84.51° found that 74% of consumers under age 35 snack at least a few times a day and that fruits, potato chips, and cheese are the leading snack items.

AdAdapted’s proprietary research found that chips, tortilla chips, crackers, popcorn, pretzels, and granola bars are snack items that lead the shopping list, but in a general sense, making room for brand marketers to get consumers to include brand-name products on their lists. 

All in all, consumers are eating a mixed bag of items throughout the day, but it presents an opportunity for brands to get the right products in front of the right consumers for the right daypart. Circana’s survey breaks down the day as snacking in the early morning, morning, afternoon, evening, and late evening. 

The Circana study shows the total U.S. respondents snack mostly during the afternoon (66%) and evening (59%), with less than a third saying they snack during the early morning hours. Compare that to millennial-aged respondents, who are snacking all day: 

  • 45% snack during early morning hours
  • 45% snack during morning hours
  • 75% snack in the afternoon
  • 70% snack in the evening
  • 58% snack in the late evening

These percentages are higher than every age group across the board, with Gen Z consumers not too far behind millennials. For younger consumers, brands are witnessing a steady diet of all-day snacking.

How to target all-day snackers 

Just as these consumers might turn to snacks to fuel them throughout the day, CPGs can supply marketing content to fuel their snacking routines. Content and shoppable ads can help consumers build out their pantries, provide inspiration on what snacks they should try next, and target certain dayparts with items that fit each consumer’s schedule.

Using first-party data to get a glimpse at a consumer’s previous buying habits, brands can see what a snack-driven consumer is buying and target appropriate shoppable content to them throughout the day. Content can visit consumers on mobile shopping list apps, reaching snackers as they’re looking to add items to a list.

In a sense, brands can plug into a consumer’s all-day snacking habits. They can follow them on a mobile shopping list app that they’re frequenting, understand what snacks they’re eating and when, and target them with snacks that meet their needs. CPGs have an opportunity to get their brand names into the consumer mindset and ultimately get that brand name listed and earn loyal shoppers.

For example, while the Circana study found more than half of the respondents were snacking to add excitement to a diet and more than a third buy snacks to directly support a diet trend such as Keto or Paleo, a good portion of snacking is being done as a way to responsibly indulge. CPGs can leverage data to find who’s snacking to indulge versus who’s snacking to meet a diet and target the right shoppable content and register conversions.

Candy, chocolate, and cookies are all finding a way into the snacking consumers’ lineup, per the Circana study, and 84.51° reports that nearly 60% of respondents are snacking to satisfy a craving and a third are looking to indulge.

The shoppable content can reach snackers with messaging about indulging responsibly and target consumers who are snacking throughout the day to curb their appetites. Brands can also deliver content that communicates to consumers who are on the go all day. 

Why it’s important to understand the snacking trend 

The all-day snacking trend is one that can support brands across categories. The research shows a burgeoning lifestyle trend that can bring new life to some snack businesses. The brands that research and leverage first-party data to personalize and target content to their consumers are the ones that will solidify a spot during the snacking day, all day, every day.

Molly McFarland, co-founder and chief revenue officer of AdAdapted, offers a unique perspective on being a woman in the tech start-up world. Molly began her career as a marketing professional and has expertise in mobile advertising, add-to-list solutions, and how to reach consumers in the ever-changing ad space.


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