Moments do matter: Breakfast behaviors and the growth of snacking

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05 Dec 2017 --- Different moments require different foods. Consumers ask themselves “Do I need an on-the-go yogurt for a busy morning at work?”, “What do I need to buy for a relaxing brunch at home with the family?” and “What shall I eat and drink after my workout?” Exploring trends related to the where, when and how of eating and drinking can help companies position their products in the right type of occasion to capitalize on consumer questions like these. 

Capturing the moment
Positioning now tends to go beyond the traditional breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack categories. In fact, it’s far more extensive.

Consumers carve out special moments for themselves and their families at all times of day and night. And capturing the moment can be singling out a much more micro-moment and making it feel all the more special with food.

Think warm, soothing indulgent creamy drinks for a moment curled up on the sofa in front of the TV, a fruit and protein-packed smoothie post gym or a punnet of blueberries and almonds for a mid-afternoon snack at work. 

Occasion-based marketing really appeals to consumers because it offers permission, such as: “It’s okay to eat that right now because this is an occasion.” And it particularly resonates with the Millennial generation who tend to put more stock into an experience. Telling someone it’s okay to eat or drink this or that is powerful and giving them a range of options or occasions to enjoy the product is even smarter. 

Click to EnlargeOne case in point is what’s happened with cereals, no longer the staple of breakfast tables. In fact, many households have ditched the traditional sugar-laden cereals – which have historically been positioned for breakfast time only – in favor of healthier alternatives. 

So what’s happened to cereals? Some have been rebranded to appeal to younger consumers as a late-night indulgent snack or a premium sugary treat. So the occasion or time of eating changes. 

Whether Kellogg’s will manage to save the much-maligned sugary brands because of this new positioning remains to be seen, however the evidence so far shows that while more parents are keeping their kids away from the likes of Fruit Loops, Choco Pops and Smorz, the Millennials are picking up the slack by tucking into bowls during the evening while watching Game of Thrones. 

This is a good example of a company responding to the shift in consumer tastes toward fresher, more natural food, by finding a new opportunity for long-established brands that can still be enjoyed, albeit by a different demographic. 

Read more about how breakfast boundaries are changing because of the repositioning of cereals in another FoodIngredientsFirst special report from earlier this year, here

As 2017 comes to an end, Innova Market Insights has put together its latest top 10 trends for 2018, which can be read here and here. Going back to this time last year for a moment and we see how the trends the company pushed for 2017 actually included “Encapsulating Moments” which was #7 on the list. It’s interesting to see how trends can establish themselves as a formidable driving force. 

Skipping breakfast
Consumers are skipping breakfast slightly more often now than in 2015 and it comes largely at the expense of at-home Click to Enlarge breakfast occasions, according to Technomic’s recently released 2017 Breakfast Consumer Trend Report.

Consumers’ breakfast attitudes are changing as they respond to the busy pace of modern life and evolving definitions of healthy eating. For example, fewer consumers now than two years ago say that skipping breakfast is unhealthy, meaning that snacks or beverages could increasingly be considered suitable replacements for a full morning meal. Operators who evolve and cater to time-crunched consumers will put themselves in the best position to steal share moving forward.

“Speedy service and craveable grab-and-go options can help operators and suppliers engrain themselves into consumers’ morning routines,” explains Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights at Technomic. 

“Time also remains a key deterrent to breakfast occasions, so operators will need to push the envelope in terms of convenience. Order-ahead and delivery capabilities are likely to appeal to those who constantly feel short on time in the mornings.”

On-the-go: Weekday versus weekends 
The hectic lifestyle of today’s consumer has led to a rise in on-the-go products. Looking at the aisles of retailers around the world demonstrates the strong branding messages that target on-the-go moments. 

In contrast, manufacturers also specifically target weekend moments or more relaxed occasions with more leisurely, premium and indulgent terminology to deliberately set that product apart from the hustle and bustle associated with eating on-the-go. 

As product positioning addresses moments in the day or week versus the weekend, there is an increase in words to indicate a particular consumption moment such as “breakfast”, “lunch”, “snack”, “gym,” “weekend” and so on.

According to Innova Market Insights, there has been a 125 percent rise in new products featuring the word “office” as a claim/feature (2015 vs. 2014). Similarly, use of the word “school” is up 24 percent over this period, indicating how occasions are being targeted.

Moment centric snacking
Snacking was one of the early categories to really tap into the idea of occasions as it naturally lends itself quite nicely to the trend. And as consumers are seeking quick and healthy snacks more and more in replacement of traditional heavy meal options, positioning a snack product with an attached occasion is becoming more and more prevalent. 

Innova Market Insights revealed, “From Snacks to Mini Meals” as trend number 8 in the 2018 top trends. Busy lifestyles mean that meal times and occasions are becoming less prevalent and people are seeking quick and convenient, yet healthy solutions.

Snacks are becoming not only healthier but also more wholesome, satisfying, sustaining and nutritious. This is creating more and more opportunities for snacks to take on the role of mini meals.

“The other thing that we see happening in the snacking area is fruits and vegetables with a snack claim,” says Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights. “There are lots and lots of them and we’ve seen a 25 percent increase in fruits and vegetables with a snack claim over the period of 2012 to 2016.”

Innovators which develop healthy snacks that can be eaten on a variety of occasions and not just limited to one time of the day or night can really tap into opportunities. 

Click to EnlargeA good example here is what’s happened recently with the UK soft fruit industry and in particular the massive growth of the berry category.

Following focused marketing campaigns which include positioning berries - especially blueberries – as an ideal snack for health-conscious people, the industry is now worth in excess of £1 billion (US$1.3 billion).

The scope of eating occasions has got everything to do with this; berries don’t have to be cleaned, they’re convenient, can be eaten on-the-go, easily packed into a lunchbox, great snack before, during and after exercise, good as toppings on cereals and/or yogurt or as part of an indulgent dessert, the list goes on.

By making consumers understand that blueberries, and other berries, can conveniently and easily contribute to their well-being and are accessible at any time of time and in almost any occasion, has contributed to the overall huge increase in consumption in recent years. 

By Gaynor Selby

Innova Market Insights

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