Hit Habit Forecast is a regular column of the Hit Habit Makers, a group of young planners at Hakuhodo HQ that gamely stood up to say they were going to create hit habits—not hit products—as consumption shifts from purchasing things to purchasing experiences. Analyzing social media accounts and purchasing data of highly sophisticated users and conducting analysis on popular articles, etc. in a variety of media that have their fingers on the pulse of social trends, this is the bold, new challenge of forecasting hit habits that are about to break.
I’m Yu Nakagawa of the Hit Habit Makers.
Why is it that working from home makes you hungry?
In breaks from work, I somehow find myself rummaging the shelves in the kitchen for chocolate and other snacks. I only intend to have a little, but once I start, I can’t stop, and end up eating a lot. I prove my weakness of will to myself on the daily.
The topic today, therefore, is “new snacking.”
From articles on the net, social media and the like, I know that many people, like me, have been overindulging in snacks while working from home and put on weight. This article is about the increasing number of people who, rather than just resigning themselves to this fate, have started a new way of snacking that fits their new work style.
First, we have the “healtification” of snacking.
This is when people know they can’t give up snacking, so shift to healthier options. A signature example of this is nuts. Looking at Google Trends, searches for nuts have spiked since the start of 2021. Searching articles, I found several reporting that nuts are in the spotlight again during the pandemic. This has probably led to increased interest. More people are choosing nuts because they are low in carbs and rich in nutrients, and some supermarkets have even increased shelf space devoted to nuts, apparently. Aside from nuts, dried fruit, jellies made with konnyaku and snacking kombu seaweed are also drawing attention.
Next, we have snack-meals.
Here the tables are turned and snacks are considered to be meals. In turn, the size of each meal is reduced, with four to six meals eaten each day. It’s said that rapid spikes in blood sugar can be avoided this way. Taking a peek at what kinds of snack-meals there are on Twitter, you’ll find such things as granola, yogurt and rice balls from convenience stores, among other things. To meet this need, one manufacturer has developed a new kind of confectionery that is more than a snack but less than a meal, marketing it as a “fourth meal.”
Finally, we have snack drinks.
This is when people fill up on drinks, not food. The leading example here is soup. Looking at Google Trends, searches for soup were stable from 2016 but started trending upwards from 2020. Sales in the soup market are also increasing gradually. I, too, will sometimes have miso soup I’ve made ahead of time when I get a bit peckish. Some people also have smoothies as a snack, and it feels like more people around me have bought blenders and make them at home. I also know of people who fill the hole with amazake, a fermented drink made from rice, soda water and fruit vinegars, to name a few.
New snacking. One reason of it, as mentioned earlier, is that people feel hungry when working from home or staying in their workplaces all day due to the pandemic. But there’s more to it than that. Being in the same room, in the same surroundings for long periods of time is not conducive to high spirits, so another major reason is probably psychological: people snack to feel pleasure and happiness. This being so, consumers will probably welcome products that consciously incorporate aromas or a feeling of fullness that elevate the mood.
More people are likely to get on the new snacking bandwagon, and new business opportunities abound.
Examples of new snacking business opportunities
■ Launching a series of healthy snacks that are low calorie and low carb, but also filling
■ Fast food restaurants selling new menu options, such as soups that are more than a snack but not a full meal
■ Developing a new meal kit delivery program featuring only five-meals-a-day kits
And so on.
I, myself, love a snack and can’t help eating any snacks in front of me. But the health check I had the other day found that my cholesterol is above the recommended level and I think the time has come for me to start new snacking. I think I’ll start with the snacking kombu seaweed that I discovered while writing this article. But that might make me to want a drink. Because I do enjoy a tipple…