Snack consumption is on the rise, as half of today’s consumers (51%) say that they eat snacks at least twice a day, an increase from the 48% who said the same in 2012. And about a third of consumers (31%) told Technomic they’re snacking more frequently than they were just two years ago.

Not only are consumers snacking more often, they’re broadening their definition of a “snack.” These days, a wider range of foods—and beverages—are now viewed as snacks, and convenience stores and other retailers are sparking competition with restaurants in order to meet the growing demand.

“Snacking occasions represent a growth channel for restaurant operators,” said Darren Tristano, Executive Vice President of Technomic, Inc. “The retail market is aggressively promoting snacks, but there’s plenty of room for restaurants to expand their snack programs and grab share. By providing more innovative, healthy and easily portable snacks, and boosting variety, restaurants can position themselves to increase incremental traffic and sales—particularly among a younger customer base.”

To help foodservice executives understand the latest behaviors, preferences and attitudes of consumers regarding snacking, Technomic has published an update of its Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report. Interesting findings include:

  • Consumers eat snacks both between meals and as meal replacements: Nearly half of consumers (49%) eat snacks between meals and 45% replace one or two daily meals with a snack.
  • Forty-five percent of consumers who order snacks at restaurants order from the dollar or value menu.
  • Fifty percent of consumers indicate that healthfulness is very important to them when choosing a snack.
  • Portability is increasingly vital: 60% of today’s consumers, compared to 55% in 2012, cite portability as an important or extremely important factor when choosing a snack.

Ad-ology Research has discovered that just over half (55.4%) of frequent diners are men, and the 25-34 and 35-44 age range comprises more than 65%.  Television advertising, followed by Internet banner ads and newspaper ads, (print, online mobile or tablet) have the most influence on this audience.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to Ad-ology PRO. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.