15 June 2020, 08:24 AM
  • High levels of uncertainty combined with restrictions on movement is something that is having an adverse effect on the mental wellbeing of consumers. This is something that is resulting in consumers snacking on a more regular basis for escapism purposes, says Mike Hughes, head of research and insight at FMCG Gurus
Consumers snacking more in the wake of COVID-19

Whilst this is something that can offer moments of comfort in the short-term, it is something that will increase concerns about waistlines in the long-term. As the year progresses, there will be an increase in demand for better-for-you snacks that offer escapism without conflicting with health goals.

COVID-19 is something that is directly shaping eating habits, with consumers turning to snacks for moments of escapism, research conducted over the period April 2020/May 2020 by FMCG Gurus reveals. Indeed, in May 2020, a total of 50% of consumers said that they had snacked more compared to the previous month, a significant jump on the 38% who said this a month earlier. This highlights how as consumers spend more time at home, they are turning to snack products for comfort purposes. Again, this is further reflected in the fact that in May 2020, a total of 60% of consumers said that they had bought more food like ice cream and confectionery for comfort purposes (compared to 56% who said this in April 2020).

This increased snacking is something that can be linked to consumers suffering from feelings of stress and anxiety brought about by uncertainty and disruption to daily life. For instance, in May 2020 a total of 43% of consumers said that they have become more conscious about their mental wellbeing because of COVID-19. This was a noticeable increased compared to the 36% who said this a month earlier, showing how concerns about health and finances as well as feelings of isolation brought about by restrictions on movement is impacting on mental wellbeing. Given that in May 2020 a total of 72% of consumers said they believe that the world is heading towards recession and that 71% think there will be a second wave of coronavirus, mental wellbeing is something that will continue to shape snacking habits for the foreseeable future.

Whilst these moments of escapism are something that can help consumers relax and unwind and address their mental wellbeing, they are also something that conflict with health goals. In May 2020 for instance, a total of 80% of consumers said that they were attempting to eat and drink healthier because of COVID-19. This was an increase of seven percent compared to a month earlier, showing that consumers will be conscious about excessive intake of calories and sugar. The reality is that consumers will continue to face feelings of uncertainty for at least the next twelve months. This means that they will simultaneously continue to be more worried about their health whilst also seeking out moments of escapism, something that will drive demand for better-for-you products.

This article is based on the following surveys:
April 2020 COVID-10 survey series – 23,000 consumers across 18 countries
May 2020 COVID-10 survey series – 23,000 consumers across 18 countries

To find out more about the FMCG Gurus webinar COVID-19: Re-evaluating strategies in an era of uncertainty, and register to attend, click here