Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Ann Veeck

Second Advisor

Beth Hoger

Third Advisor

Frank Gambino


Snacking is Growing at an Alarming Rate

As modern lifestyles change, and consumers grow ever busier, snacking is becoming a more important part of the traditional consumer’s schedule. According to Nielsen, global consumers spent roughly $374 billion dollars on snack foods between the years of 2014 and 2015 (Nielsen, 2014).

Why Students?

With college students potentially becoming customers as they begin to make their own purchase decisions, an analysis of this group and their relationships with snacks is key for manufacturers. According to my study, 73.5% of survey respondents indicated that they have consumed seven or more snacks during the past month, showing that snacking is heavily integrated into a student’s lifestyle. This shows that this group of the overall population offers a huge opportunity to manufacturers.


White Space on Campus

With such an abundance of eager new customers, a college campus is an ecosystem of its own and the perfect target audience for innovations in snacking. My study found that the second largest obstacle (next to price) in a student’s mind related to snacking is a lack of snacking options. This provides ample white space for creative companies to fill with exciting new products. Lack of locations to find snacks was the next largest obstacle, meaning that companies willing to make their product accessible will often find success when approaching this type of market.

Striking Where the Action Is

According to my study, students indicate that they are very likely to snack while on campus. In fact, on-campus locations come in second only to snacking at home (see figure 3). This data suggests that appealing to students in an on-campus location will likely yield profitable results for manufacturers as this is where students seek out snacking options.

Meeting the Needs of the Consumer

For manufacturers to capture the attention of these young consumers, they must first decide which segment to target and then identify their unique needs. My study identified three major segments, each of which has very different characteristics that must be accommodated for successful targeting. The three segments that my study identified are named as follows: the Nutritious Nibblers, the Hard Pressed and Hangry, and the Feel Good Feeders. Some of the unique needs that these consumers identify for snacking are listed in figure 3 (to the right). The Nutritious Nibblers are health conscious and would be good targets for functional snacks. The Hard Pressed and Hangry are a bustling group and need options that stress convenience and fit into their budget. Lastly, the Feel Good Feeders are indulgent and products marketed to this segment should emphasize taste and affordability.


Manufacturers will obtain from this study a clearer idea of the opportunities that are available in a market similar to that of Western Michigan University’s campus. Each group should be approached uniquely, whether it’s the information on the package, the location of their snacks, or the packing itself.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

AVG Thesis Deck 41717.pdf (724 kB)
Defense Presentation