Snack Attack: The Moments in Life When Only Crisps Will Do


Snack Attack: The Moments in Life When Only Crisps Will Do

  • Which snacks are most popular in the UK, and why?
  • A new NIQ study provides new insights into UK consumers’ snacking behavior, identifying the “what,” “why,” and “when.”
  • These insights also highlight opportunities for growth in the snack sector that CPG firms can tap into.


Behind the Insights

From after-hours snackers to those seeking that perfect hunger buster, the United Kingdom loves its crunchy treats. At NIQ, we’ve been on a crispy journey—using Consumption Moments to dive deep into the UK’s snacking habits.

In our Consumption Moments snack study, we utilized real-time mobile consumption data gathered from 799 instances and 281 participants. Our objective was to acquire insights into their snacking behaviors, enabling us to share valuable information with our stakeholders for informed marketing decisions.

Consumer-driven insights like this study are one of the best ways to tailor marketing campaigns and product innovations.

Let’s dig into some of our most interesting discoveries!

About Consumption Moments

Consumption Moments enables brands to truly understand the moments in which customers choose their products. With always-on measurement, panelist-friendly interface, and precision reporting, you can track the consumers most important to your brand and develop more relevant recommendations aligned to key segments.

Crisps Dominate the Crunch Scene

In the UK, chips—or crisps, as the UK fondly calls them—lead the pack as the most savored snacks. Among all the crunchy snacks—be it pretzels, popcorn, or something else entirely—crisps emerged as the undisputed leader, making up a whopping 94% of all consumption occasions.

The only other snacks mentioned by respondents were nacho/tortilla chips and popcorn, with 5% and 1% (respectively) of the respondents snacking on these items. Within the nacho/tortilla chip segment, Doritos emerged as the most dominant brand, capturing 99% of consumption moments.

Tostitos and Paquis comprised the remaining 1%. Despite, or perhaps because of, their small current market share within the UK, there is ample room for growth of tortilla/nacho chips within the UK snacking sphere, as well as popcorn.

Crisps Crush Other Snacks, But What Kind Of Crisps?

In the category of crisps, Walkers established itself as the predominant name brand, representing 34% of all instances of branded consumption, while Tayto trailed behind at 11%. However, only 11% of respondents even mentioned a brand.

This insight provides an opportunity for more sustained brand integration in the crisps’ snack space. If consumers are hungry for crisps but have little preference for the brand, snack companies have ample room to capture this market. In short, there is product demand, but no dominant brand leader, per se.

Additionally, NIQ found that Walkers crisps were the most frequently searched crisps on Google within the UK over all other crisp brands (Piper’s, Lay’s, Seabrook’s, McCoy’s, and Tayto).

An angled view of a potato chip snack sitting on a table

Read on to gain more insight into when and where UK consumers are reaching for their favorite snacks!

The Hunger Buster Insight

Both our team and our friends at Social 360 have found a recurring theme: crisps are the go-to hunger solution. At NIQ, we always ask why and when people do what they do. With snacking, the “why” is that people are hungry; the “when” is that they are hungry in the evening at home. Eating crisps after dinner isn’t just mindless snacking in the UK; 49% of individuals turn to crisps when after-dinner hunger pangs hit.

The majority of crisps are eaten at home in the evening (43% of consumption moments) but they are also a snack consumed often at bars, clubs, or parties while out with friends (35% of consumption moments). Marketing towards crisps, tortilla chips/nachos, or popcorn as the go-to evening snack, whether alone at home or out with friends, is a great way to further capture these consumption moments.

Marketing other snacks like popcorn as a hunger buster could be a way to claim a further market share within the UK snack sector. With its high fiber content, popcorn could be marketed as a better way to reduce those after-supper hunger pangs.

The Sum of the Yum

Our insights from this Consumption Moments study go beyond simple consumer preferences, they offer a strategic compass for cross-functional CPG (consumer packaged goods) teams. This rich data aids in understanding the varied reasons behind snack choices in the UK, guiding product development, marketing, and supply chain decisions.

By tapping into these detailed consumption patterns across snacks and beyond, CPG teams can align their strategies, create products and narratives that resonate with the market, and foster innovation that reflects dynamic consumer behavior.

Dive deeper into consumption behavior

Learn how Consumption Moments can help you pinpoint market growth opportunities in your region that fit your customers, goals, and strategy.