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College kids snack in the afternoon, to replace meals


Boston – College students most frequently eat snack foods in the afternoon and are frequently replacing meals with snacks. A new study from marketing agency Fluent shows that 75% of college students replace meals with snacks and afternoon snacking is three times more popular than morning or late night snacking.

Other notable findings of the survey college students age 18-25 include:

  • While convenience and price are clearly important in driving snack choices, the single most important factors are satisfying a craving (25% of responses) followed by nutritional information (20%).

  • The top go-to snack food of choice is a granola/energy bar (25%), followed by chips (22%), fruit (14%) and baked goods (12%).

  • In terms of beverages, water is tops (62%), while coffee and tea are the primary caffeinated beverages (13%), chosen far more often than soft drinks (7%); juice (5%) and milk (4%) did better overall than sports (3%) and energy drinks (2%).

  • Most students (44%) rely on debit cards to pay for snacks, followed by ID card and cash (21% each).

  • More than 80% report spending less than $5 per day, and 48% spend less than $3.

  • Familiar tastes and brands (43%), free samples (35%) and coupons (10%) are the most popular influencers on collegiate snack choices. Peer recommendations come in fourth.

“Many of the results of our snacking survey contradict what most people would imagine to be true about college kids and snacking; the peak of college snacking actually occurs during the day as opposed to late night, and students are making relatively healthy choices,” said Michael Carey, executive VP of Fluent. "Knowing that winter is indeed the top snacking season, according to this first-hand insight from students on campus, gives brands an opportunity to hone their marketing efforts to better meet Millennial snacking and buying preferences."

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