Snacks: A Growth Opportunity for Restaurants

Snacking is pretty ingrained behavior for most people. Three-fourths of consumers (77 percent) snack at least once a day. However, snacks are fairly new to the foodservice arena, and data from Technomic’s newest Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report points to opportunities for restaurant operators to increase incremental traffic and sales through snack offerings.

About one in five consumers report that limited-service restaurants (21 percent) and full-service restaurants (24 percent) do a good job of providing foods and beverages they would order for a snack, indicating that many consumers feel there is room for more snack offerings at restaurants. Further, 9 percent of consumers have broadened their definition of a “snack” to include more foodservice items over the past two years.

In order to maximize traffic and sales, restaurant operators should keep the following considerations in mind when developing snack offerings.

Portability is King

Three-fifths of today’s consumers (60 percent), compared to only 55 percent in 2012, cite portability as an important or extremely important factor when choosing a snack. Also, half of consumers who eat snacks away from home (50 percent) report doing so en-route, which is up from 43 percent of those polled in 2012.

Both KFC Go Cups and McDonald’s McBites are good examples of portable snack options at restaurants.

  • KFC’s Go Cup container was designed specifically to fit in a vehicle cup holder and is marketed as an on-the-go snack
  • McDonalds’ McBites include 3-ounce Snack, 5-ounce Regular and 10-ounce shareable sizes served in a portable box with a sauce holder on the lid

KFC Go Cups

KFC Go Cups


Micro snacks are priced by portion: McDonald’s Chicken McBites and Fish McBites

Micro snacks are priced by portion: McDonald’s Chicken McBites and Fish McBites


Different Needstates for Snacks

Consumers are split as to whether they eat snacks between meals (49 percent) or as meal replacements (45 percent). Additionally, about half of consumers place high importance on snacks that aren’t too large (53 percent) and on snacks that will satisfy their hunger (50 percent).

Offering a mix of snacks that includes a range of portion sizes can help meet different consumer needstates: demand for small, light snacks that will hold consumers over to their next meal without being too filling versus demand for larger snacks that can serve as a suitable replacement for a meal.


Anne Mills

Anne Mills is a Consumer Research Manager at Technomic Inc. She works on the firm’s Consumer Trend Reports, a series of more than 25 annual studies that keep U.S., Canadian and U.K. foodservice professionals up to date on the evolving menu and consumer trends in key foodservice areas including: food and beverage categories, restaurant sectors, dining occasions, consumer segments and more.

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