Millennial consumers are skipping sit-down meals and opting for snacks that better suit their needs.

LONDON — Snack makers should be studying the snacking behaviors of millennials, according to consumer insight firm Canadean, which found that 41 percent of those aged 18-24 and 44 percent of those aged 25-34 regularly snack between meals.

As millennial consumers move away from meals, snacks are stepping in to meet what Canadean’s latest report found to be consumers’ three main needs: Psychological needs, occasion-based needs and functional needs.

Katrina Diamonon, principal consumer insight analyst for Canadean 

“While it is important for brands to acknowledge and address the snacking needs of all consumers, it is particularly crucial to understand the motivations of younger consumers,” said Katrina Diamonon, principal consumer insight analyst for Canadean. “Not only are they more frequent snackers, but their purchase behaviors and preferences will strongly influence other current consumers and also subsequent generations as they pass on these traits to their children.”

Forty-one percent of those aged 18-24 and 44 percent of those aged 25-34 regularly snack between meals. 

One functional category garnering ample attention from millennials is the meat snack market. These consumers tend to prioritize meat in their diets more highly than their older counterparts due to its perceived health benefits, the report said. This creates a big opportunity for manufacturers to get in on the rapidly growing meat snack segment, Canadean said, currently a $1.5 billion industry.

Snacks meeting the psychological need offer an emotional boost during stressful times or when a consumer feels the need to indulge, the report said. Snacks solving occasion-based needs are dictated by occasion, such as snacks associated with watching a movie, attending a sporting event or socializing with friends. Snacks satisfying the functional need provide an energy or nutritional boost, often serving as a meal replacement for consumers who are on-the-go or strapped with time constraints.

“Manufacturers are increasingly experimenting with a range of proteins, formats, and gourmet flavors to elevate consumption from convenience-store snacks to an exciting taste experience and even credible meal replacement,” Diamonon said. “Improved sourcing transparency and ethical production of such offerings is also enhancing premium credentials.”