Where Consumers Shop for Snacks

May 2022

Snacks enjoy the widest distribution in all packaged food. Snacks have historically relied on impulse purchases, but the pandemic brought a wave of change in the retail landscape, significantly boosting e-commerce. Snacks purchases have become more pre-planned rather than relying on impulse-driven purchases. However, immediate consumption and affordability remain important for grocery retailers. Values-orientated consumers are expected to reshape snacks by demanding ethically minded snacks.

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Key findings

Anytime, anywhere key for snacks

Snacks enjoy the widest distribution networks in all packaged food. Consumers can buy snacks almost anywhere, and ensuring smooth fulfilment through impulse channels and meeting consumers’ craving for something sweet or salty remains a vital part of snacks retailing.

Snacks more premeditated rather than impulse driven

Since the pandemic, snacks purchases have become more pre-planned rather than relying on impulse-driven purchases, especially with the evolution of e-commerce channels. However, the demand for impulse still exist, sustaining sales through “on-the-go” channels, like convenience stores.

Growing demand for affordability boosts discounters

Tough economic conditions have seen consumers looking for more affordable snacking options. Discounters have benefited by offering lower priced snacks to consumers, while supermarkets and hypermarkets have innovated in their private label to offer value for money. E-commerce retailers have also invested in private label innovation to remain competitive.

Digitalisation key to leveraging shift to e-commerce?

Alternative business models and the harnessing of vast amounts of consumer data have propelled snacks into the digital era. Snacks brands have realised the importance of an online presence that allows them to connect with consumers.

Ethically minded consumers to reshape snacks

Growing concerns for the planet have increased demand for plant-based and sustainably sourced snacks. This, along with changing diets, is expected to reshape how consumers snack, boosting demand for planet- and diet-friendly snacks.


Key findings

Industry Snapshot

Reduced impulse purchases and healthy living result in slower recovery
Categories normalise following pandemic as snacking becomes more premeditated
Snackification continues to evolve
Innovation opportunities abound from three main motivations of snacking

Channel Shifts

Digitalisation grows as a result of the pandemic, boosting e-commerce performance
Changing shopping behaviour and investment in online channel…
…boosts performance of non-store retailing

Store-Based Channels

Store-based snapshot in 2021
Immediate purchases and convenient access continue to sustain modern grocery retailers
Discounters benefit from the rise of value-focused buying
Innovation into savoury snacks and ice cream boost private label performance
Private label shows strongest growth in emerging markets…
…as consumers adopt a value-focused shopping mentality

Non-Store Channels

Non-store snapshot in 2021
Wealth of new possibilities for snacks with e-commerce
Asia Pacific and North America are driving the digital revolution in snacks…
…thanks to heightened consumer demand for anytime, anywhere commerce
Crisis turns brainwave: How the pandemic boosted chocolate sales in Brazil
Leading companies in e-commerce

Future Developments

Ethically-minded consumers expected to reshape global snacks market
General increase in prices to challenge snacks players’ value propositions
Key takeaways


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