Anytime, Anywhere? The Evolution of Snackification in 2020 and Beyond

July 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) deeply disrupted snack occasions. In the short term, drastic reductions in mobility changed snacking from an “anytime, anywhere” to “always at home” occasion. Immediate consumption, impulse and experiential elements were substantially reduced, while portability became the defining feature of category and channel performance. This report explores how the pandemic’s evolution will shape the future of snacking, with key opportunities and threats.

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Key findings

Snackification trends have historically been driven by shifts in the socioeconomic and technological landscape

Time-pressed lifestyles have defined the historic evolution of the global snacks market over the past decade. Fundamental lifestyles shifts have forced people increasingly to value their time. Convenient, ready-to-eat and portable food solutions, like packaged snacks, have thrived in this environment.

COVID-19’s primary impact on snacks was the near-compete collapse of mobility

A lack of consumer mobility under COVID-19 completely reshaped historic snackification trends in the short term. Once an “anytime, anywhere” convenience, snacking moved to become an “always at home” occasion, reducing or even removing impulse, immediate consumption and experiential elements. Portability become the defining feature of category and channel performance in snacks in 2020.

As societies re-open in the mid-term, ongoing fear of the virus presents both opportunities and challenges for snacks

In a mid-term defined by growing mobility but a persistent fear of the virus, snacks have a unique opportunity to recapture share from unpackaged products and eat-in foodservice occasions. At the same time, recessionary fall-out from COVID-19 and a lack of tourism flows provide significant threats in many markets. SKU rationalisation strategies by leading players also challenge an industry that has become reliant on ever-growing SKU counts.

As long-term solutions to the virus emerge, a “new normal” will force snacks to focus on key strengths and address new potential weaknesses

Once a long-term solution to the virus is discovered, snacks will compete in a “new normal”. Brands need to embrace the underlying shifts in society and technology that have traditionally driven snackification trends, pivoting to emerging markets and healthier solutions. At the same time, the industry faces new challenges from a massive acceleration in e-commerce, growth in contactless retail and paradigm shifts in remote working.



Key findings

Snacking before Covid-19

Two underlying drivers of snacking trends
Urbanisation changes how people eat
Technology reshapes expectations and the retail landscape
COVID-19: short-, mid- and long-term implications for snackification

Short-Term Disruption

COVID-19: Severe short-term disruption
The rapid spread of COVID-19 forces societies into lockdown
Away-from-home food channels see unprecedented declines in traffic…
…as channel shifts relocate billions of meal occasions
Snacking moves from “anytime, anywhere” to “always at-home”
Immediate consumption loses relevance
On-the-go exposure is not uniform across snack categories…
…leading to significant shifts in category growth
Experiential snacking loses all momentum
E-commerce takes a great leap forward
The collapse of the on-demand economy

Mid-Term Implications

As mobility returns, the world enters a transitional “mid-term” period

Mid-term implications

Mid-term implications: SWOT analysis for packaged snacks
Strength: packaging provides a sense of security in a contactless world
Weakness: recessionary fall-out puts snacks at a disadvantage
Premiumisation reshaped by the pandemic and its recessionary fallout
Opportunity: a massive pool of meal occasions is up-for-grabs
Digital innovation will help restaurants reach more occasions
Threat: SKU rationalisation poses risks to traditional modes of innovation
Threat: snacks lose a key customer base as tourism flows collapse

Long-Term Shifts

Long-term shifts will define a “new normal” for snackers

Long-term shifts

Long-term shifts: SWOT analysis for packaged snacks
Strength: Continued shifts in the underlying socioeconomic landscape
Generational shifts in cooking and eating habits will persist
Weakness: Rapid acceleration of e-commerce limits impulse touchpoints
Adapting snacks to a world dominated by e-commerce
Opportunity: immune health as a new frontier for healthy snacking
Opportunity: Emerging markets will drive on-the-go snacking
Target emerging markets with portable snack solutions
Threat: less mobility in the workforce
Threat: less mobility in the workforce (cont.)
Threat: investment in contactless retail will pressure front-end impulse


Conclusion: responding to the pandemic’s progression


About Via Online Tracking from Euromonitor International
About Google Mobility data
About Google Mobility data (cont.)


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