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Do Millennials a Flavor (or Two, or Three): The Importance of Snacking Diversity

Keep Snack Offerings DiverseSnack-hungry millennials are an especially diverse bunch, and they yearn for diversity in their food options. As culinary adventurers with a seemingly insatiable appetite for bold and varied flavor profiles, they are helping to drive demand for menu innovation geared toward diversification and an ever-broadening range of new and exciting taste experiences.


There’s no big winner when it comes to adult consumers’ favorite snack food, so it’s smart to continue to offer a range of snacks.1

75.4 million strong, millennials have not only overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest generation; they’re also much more diverse.2 Whereas 75% of Baby Boomers are Caucasian, this figure drops to 55.8% for millennials.3 Hispanics, Asians and those identifying as two or more races compose nearly 30% of the millennial population, bringing their rich culinary heritages into the mainstream.3

The sheer diversity of millennial consumers, combined with their coming of age at a time when digital media exposes them to an unprecedented range of foodservice product options, predisposes this coveted cohort to a preference for diversified snack selections. No wonder 56% of millennials surveyed snack to satisfy a hankering in their quest for flavor adventures.4

As the most snack-obsessed demographic in a country where 94% of consumers surveyed snack daily,4 millennials are at the forefront of the snackification of American life. And with one in four millennials snacking four or more times in a single day, the group provides ample opportunity to boost sales, provided the product assortment is varied and flavorful enough to appeal to their culinary wanderlust.4

Brave New World of Snacks

Given to experimentation, millennials are leading the foodservice industry into a new frontier of globally inspired flavor profiles, ethnic cuisines and daring taste combinations. Nearly half of all flavor occasions in the United States consist of ethnic options.5 Along with regional Hispanic, the most popular ethnic flavor influences are Filipino/Southeast Asian and Peruvian/Brazilian.5

In the same way millennials yearn for the authenticity and newness of ethnic variety and favor flavor complexity like pairings of sweet and savory, their more sophisticated palates find premium, organic and gourmet snack options appealing. A product assortment that features a robust mix of complex, ethnic and wholesome options could help attract and retain the widest base of millennial customers.

Today’s consumers are interested in a diversity of snack formats as well as flavors. According to Technomic, varied snack portions and sizes will become increasingly important. The research firm’s survey data shows that consumers are concerned about snacks being too large.6 While the definition of “snack” has become broad, many consumers surveyed still identify snacks based on size.6

Mini versions of traditional favorites are also a way for consumers to exercise portion control and restrict their calorie intake. Tiered snack sizes or more bundled snack options may be a good part of the mix to service a wide variety of consumers, millennial or others, as well as varied need states.

While no single snack food can be the big winner in today’s increasingly crowded market, foodservice and restaurant operators could still win big by making sure their menus reflect a rich, diverse mix of mainstream and trending influences.

1 Added Value Q3 2015

2 Fry, Richard, “Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation,” Pew Research Center, Apr. 25, 2016,

3 Frey, William H., “Diversity defines the millennial generation,” The Brookings Institution, June 28, 2016,

4 Huff, Skyler, The Snack Hack, FutureCast, Feb. 7, 2017

5 Huff, Skyler, “The Importance of Flavor Adventures to Millennial Snackers,” Millennial Marketing, Feb. 2017,

6 Technomic, Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report, 2016

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