Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Snacking What and When College Students Like

Today with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food in nearly every channel of retail it is interesting to learn what the future may look like.  In a recent study by Boston based marketing agency Fluent looked at what college students crave, they identified many changes from previous studies.

Fluent found that comfort foods of the past the likes of pizza and beer are being replaced by a much more sophisticated set of food choices.  The study reported that “75 percent of college students use snack foods to replace meals at least once per week, while afternoon snacking trumps late-night and evening snacking by a ratio of three to 1.”

These snacking periods as defined in the Fluent study revealed that “healthy options were the first choice among snacking items selected by the respondents.” The snacking survey contradicted what most people would think to be true about college kids and snacking.

When do they snack?  Fluent found the peak of college “snacking actually occurs during the day as opposed to late night, and students are making relatively healthy choices. What’s more, price matters a lot and students use debit cards even for these very small purchases," said Michael Carey, executive vice president of Fluent.  Here are additional key findings within of the survey:

1.       While convenience and price are clearly important in driving snack choices, the single most important factors are satisfying a craving (25 percent of responses) followed by nutritional information (20 percent).  

2.       The top go-to snack food of choice is a granola/energy bar (25 percent), followed by chips (22 percent), fruit (14 percent) and baked goods (12 percent).  

3.       In terms of beverages, water is tops (62 percent), while coffee and tea are the primary caffeinated beverages (13 percent), chosen far more often than soft drinks (7 percent). Juice (5 percent) and milk (4 percent) did better overall than sports drinks (3 percent) and energy drinks (2 percent).  

4.       Most students (44 percent) rely on debit cards to pay for snacks, followed by their ID card and cash (21 percent each).
5.       More than 80 percent report spending less than $5 per day, and 48 percent spend less than $3 a day.
6.       While students choose familiar tastes and brands most often (43 percent) to meet cravings, the other top influences on their purchases are free samples (35 percent) and coupons (10 percent). Peer recommendations came in fourth.

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