America historically loves to purchase and consume grab-and-go snacks, snacks that they can consume on the go without having to slow down their lives. These snacks are frequently placed toward the front of stores near the checkout aisle in order to catch the attention of customers when they are near the end of their shopping experience.
According to Euromonitor, nearly 70% of all in-store snack purchases are not planned. This implies that impulse snack shopping is not just coincidental, but instead a shared trend among shoppers. This pattern is fueled primarily by the location of snacks near the checkout aisle and in other appealing and somewhat infiltrating areas. It is also fueled by the need for people to have “convenience foods.” In our fast-paced society, when people are so often on the go, it is necessary for them to have food that works with their hectic lifestyle and they can eat on the go.
However, although there are numerous factors that make impulse snack purchases appealing, it is recorded that over time there has been a significant decrease in this type of purchase. There are many proposed theories for why this is happening. As previously mentioned, one of the primary places to market these type of products is at the checkout. Self-checkouts are becoming increasingly more prominent, however, and when someone is focused on the checkout process instead of browsing the nearby products they are less likely to purchase snacks.
Additionally, impulse snack purchases may be depleted as a result of the changes in eating habits that have been occurring over the last several years. According to USDA data, younger, millennial customers prefer dining out in restaurants opposed to cooking and eating at home. Prepared foods, in this situation, are in direct competition with packaged snacks.
Another contributing factor is the increase in e-commerce and online purchase. In that way, only the snack brands who are really optimizing their online presence will get significant traffic and business, opposed to those who the supermarket chose to place at the front of the store, by the cash register, or in other preferable shelving positions. They can also combat this by not only optimizing their online presence but with partnering with online meal kit services. Quaker did this with two separate companies in order to increase the online exposure to their products, demonstrating an understanding of this shift in the market.