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Collegians’ Snacking Nears Peak; Healthier Options Preferred

October 10, 2013
by candyandsnacktoday

Boston — Driven by colder weather and exams, college students’ snacking will crescendo within the next few weeks and retailers should prepare to capitalize on it, market researchers at Fluent Group advise.

Among 1,200 college students surveyed, 35 percent expect to ramp up snacking as winter nears. Seventy-five percent will substitute snacks for meals — and 80 percent of them will do so one or two times per week, most often (60 percent) in the afternoon.

Granola or energy bars (25 percent), chips (22 percent), fruit (14 percent) and cookies and baked goods (12 percent) top students’ snacking preferences, with the choice primarily dictated by the need to satisfy a craving.

Snackers (43 percent) reach for familiar brands and flavors, but free samples and coupons are strong persuaders among 35 and 10 percent of respondents, respectively -- even more than friends’ suggestions, which drive 8 percent of students’ snacking choices. Advertising, whether through social media, mobile or traditional venues, has little influence on purchases.

“Value in general is a big player for this group,” Fluent Group CEO Chip Rives explains. “Word of mouth is very important for getting the product into their hands and their friends’ hands.”

Price also plays a role. More than 80 percent of daily snack purchases capped at $5 — 48 percent of which were $3 or less — and most were paid for with debit cards (44 percent) or student ID or money cards (22 percent). Cash was used more often than credit (21 percent versus 13 percent).

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