Snacking. It’s a pretty hot topic right now, with many diet and wellness experts for the past few years heavily promoting smaller main meals and more frequent snacking on healthy foods as the trend. The idea is by satiating yourself more regularly throughout the day, you are less prone to overeating at meal time and pack more energy density into higher-quality snack foods — resulting in less dependency on things like simple carbs and added sugars. Some even advocate a snack before bed. As usual, Millennials are said to be ushering this snacking trend into the mainstream.

Truth be told, research data tells us that despite those so-called “trends” in snacking, consumers in practice aren’t looking at snacking in the same way — and those who prefer healthy food snacks aren’t who you think they are.

We studied over 2,300 U.S. adults last week, asking them about their snacking frequency and also about the types of snack foods they prefer.

What we found:


  • 51% of consumers snack more than once on an average day. More frequent snacking occurred most on a Saturday. (Probably no surprise there.)
  • “Multi-snackers” (those who snacked two or more times in a day) tend to be either younger in age (13 to 24) or middle aged (35-44). So yes, some Millennials are in this group, but read on…
  • Multi-snackers tend to prefer sweet snacks, and the more often someone snacks per day, the more likely they are to have a sweet tooth. Overall they are also heavier TV watchers, see themselves as less attractive than others their age, and more likely to say there is not enough time to eat healthier.
  • Consumers who prefer healthy foods when they snack, on the other hand, are much older in age — nearly half are 55+. They are more educated, favor organic food, tend to snack only once per day, and have very active lifestyles.

In the full Insight Report we published today on this data, we provide more details and discuss several of the challenges this is likely to present to food industry marketers. We also talk again about the importance of focusing not just on “Millennials” but on Market Mavens and why they are key for marketers; in this area, Market Mavens tend to be non-snackers, further adding to the challenge.

Check out the full report on these snackers here.