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A Business Opportunity Staring You in the Face? Americans Love Snacks

How ethnic food is taking over America.

Ethnic food. Fundamentally, American

Sounds paradoxical considering the current state of this nation, but we all cannot deny that every ethnic group in America has "carved out their own piece of the pie" when it comes to creating and owning a specific cuisine. The beauty of what makes America truly American is that foods originating from all ethnic and cultural identities become a part of the eclectic category of American cuisine.

The numbers back up this assertion as well, Statista's dossier on ethnic foods notes that the ethnic food category will reach 12.5 billion USD by just next year. These figures are not as shocking as some may ponder, as just about every food you can name--spaghetti, tacos, dumplings, kebabs, and so on--are considered ethnic. A National Restaurant Association study went on further to find that ethnic foods have become a part of our regular diets, with 4 in 5 consumers eating ethnic food on a consistent basis.

Maybe even just a few years ago, most people would've assumed that "ethnic food" means The Esposito Family was having spaghetti and meatballs for dinner tonight and The Gonzalez Family was sitting down to have tacos. If the above data is a sign that this hypothesis has (for the most part) changed--have other aspects of American's eating habits evolved as well?

Getting away from the 'meat and potatoes'

As we all know, everyone loves snacks! Speaking in terms of the entire country, now more than ever, snacking throughout the day (even as a form of meal replacement) is becoming a socially acceptable habit. Nielsen estimates North American snack sales to be a $124 billion industry in 2018. These figures can only continue growing when you consider that snacking now accounts for over half of all eating occasions, meaning the meal Americans spend the most time consuming...is snacks.

Even back in the context of the classical "sit-down" table setting, the most popular food choices are now: fried Asian egg rolls or spring rolls, Mexican (e.g., nachos and quesadillas), and boneless Buffalo wings or chicken strips--all of which are teetering on the border of appetizers and snack food.

While the hunt to discover what Americans are eating proved to be relatively simple, the question of who is eating what, was still left unanswered.

Time to cut away the fat

What exactly do these notions of increased ethnic food consumption and increased snack food consumption equate to? For any big brand or marketer, understanding if these two factors are at all correlated would be a pressing issue. In fact, most brands are eagerly looking to capitalize on a highly sought after "super consumer", who just so happens to be suitably defined as multicultural.

In broader terms, it seems that at the very least, the interest in knowing what brands different ethnic groups prefer for snacking should be more of a priority. For instance, there has been a lot of research and analysis surrounding African American buying power, and how it will reach $1.4BB by 2020. That's multicultural consumers...eating ethnic snack foods...more often than they are eating actual meals? The execs at Frito-Lay must be eager to know more.

Let's turn to the BIG data

Taking a page out of our own book, literally--finally produced some tangible data "to snack on".

A MarketResearch.com study, compiling several CPG category sources, found that African Americans in the US are much more likely to purchase foods like ice-cream and frozen snack foods. While it is safe to say that everyone likes ice-cream, African Americans over-indexing 35% against the general population on frozen snack foods is a clear indicator of a cultural snacking preference.

Still eager to know more about that one delicious treat that everyone screams for (ice-cream), insights and planning tool AudienceM was able to unveil more specific revelations. By leveraging and analyzing several behavioral, contextual, and social data points the data-management-platform, indicated that blacks in the US show a higher interest in chocolate and mint ice-cream than any other ice-cream, based on African American web users' search volume.

While these data trends only have scratched the surface of habits or preferences that groups adopt towards snack food, they have unveiled some quite interesting insights. Now for marketers, the bottom line will always be sales, no matter what ethnicity or group is buying. However, as the eating habits of Americans continue to evolve alongside our nations demographic fabric, the need to find out just who is eating what will become a more and more insistent ask.

 

Original post, here: http://www.inc.com/yuriy-boykiv/snacking-across-america.html 

Image: Getty Images

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