From bite-sized skincare to micro-dosed habits, snackable lifestyles are popular amongst gen Z and millennials. But how is snackification changing eating habits for these young consumers?

According to The Wall Street Journal, American eaters are indulging in snacks more and more each year. Half of U.S. consumers eat three or more snacks a day according to market research firm Circana Group. Snack sales reached $181 billion last year: an 11% increase from the year before. Driven by pandemic cravings for something sweet and rising food prices in this post-pandemic climate, consumers are looking for easy and accessible moments of indulgence to keep them moving.

Younger generations are feeling particularly snackish, according to research from Mondelez. Millennials and gen Zers eat 10% more snacks daily than older generations due to busier lifestyles. Cicana Group predicts that snack sales will grow between 7% and 9.5% this year compared to an expected 5.5% for food and beverage.

According to a Packaged Facts report, “Looking Ahead to Gen Z: Demographic Patterns and Spending Trends,” gen Z prefers snacks to meals, and snacks in between meals even more often than millennials (74% compared to 66%, respectively). This generation is generally looking to indulge in a healthy and stabilized way, and are often drawn to edgy or seemingly unhealthy packaging while actually still eating well, turning to brands such as Liquid Death.

"It's very in line with Gen Z making the pristine Instagram grid obsolete. It's normalizing the fact that we all have issues, need authentic personas, and a snack is just a snack," Andrea Hernandez, who writes a Substack newsletter on snacking, told Business Insider. "The pendulum is swinging back from the over-correction of making things functional."

There are four key components that determine why global consumers snack, according to the State of Snacking Report published in January by Mondelez International and The Harris Poll: consumers snack daily (71% of respondents), mindfully (78% take time to savor), frequently (55% snack at mealtimes), and sustainably (72% recycle and make reducing snack waste a priority).

“Snacking is where the consumer is going,” Hostess chief growth officer Dan O’Leary told The Wall Street Journal. The company anticipates its 2023 sales growth to be 4% to 6%, even after its 50% increase between 2019 and 2022.

By the end of this year, Kellogg will launch a global snacking-oriented company called Kellanova, composed of its popular snacking brands including Cheez-It, Pringles, Rice Krispies Treats and Pop-Tarts. Kellogg reports that these snacking brands make up about 70% of its North American snack sales alone.

Joy snacking, a term coined by neuroscientist and Washington Post columnist Dr. Richard Sima, refers to a growing consumer desire to embrace small moments of joy and wonder in small doses each day. Consumers are increasingly eager to find moments of happiness, release, and indulgence during the day. This growing appetite for satisfaction cleverly parallels an increase in consumption-snacking habits, as consumers translate bits of joy to food when their hunger rises.

The Intelligence take

Consumers are indulging in bits of pleasure, micro-dosing meditation and snackifying every part of their daily life. The popular gen Z and millennial desire for bits of joy is translating to their eating habits now, as well.

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