The Data is in: YouTube Plays a Starring Role in Influencing People’s Snacking Habits

Angela Hundal
/ March 2019 /

If you’ve ever watched a great show with your favourite treat, you’ll know that screens and snacks go hand in hand. Now Google has the data to prove it.

The next time you’re wandering the aisles of your local supermarket, stop for a moment to take in the sheer number of snacks available. How do we make our decisions on what to nibble, and why? Our research on snacking habits in the UAE and KSA reveals that most of us snack in front of our screens every day, with YouTube playing a starring role in influencing what we graze and why we choose certain products over others.

The snacking landscape in KSA and the UAE


How often do people snack?

Our insights show that snacking is big in the UAE and KSA, with more than half of all snackers tucking into sweet and savoury treats every day, especially while watching TV, hanging out with family and friends, and browsing online. For most people, snacking happens at night which is also true to snacking during Ramadan as we see a 30% increase in searches related to sweet treats, and around 54% increase in searches related to general snacking in UAE. When it comes to day-time nibbles, men prefer snacks in the morning, while women tend to gravitate towards afternoon grazing.

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When do snackers buy their favourite nibbles?

While most snackers stock up once a week, more men than women buy snacks every day, with 66% of overall nibble purchasing happening spontaneously in KSA, and 74% in UAE. For just under half of both countries’ snackers, the size of the snack pack depends on the type of food, with around half preferring bulk-pack buys.

How receptive are snackers to media while grazing?

According to our insights, people are open to more than just food consumption while munching. Our data suggests they’re also extremely receptive to media consumption. This is especially true during passive media use, for example when they’re browsing online, or watching YouTube. More than half (65% in the UAE and 58% in KSA) snack while watching online videos on YouTube for example, with just under half of all snackers in both countries munching while streaming movies. With this in mind, people’s snack times present ideal marketing opportunities, with snackers being open to online advertising.

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Digital media is snackers’ go-to choice

Our figures reveal that snackers in both the UAE and KSA are best reached through digital media, with 89% of people in the UAE and 77% in KSA consuming online videos every day, and 71% and 75% watching TV. It’s interesting to note that men log on to YouTube slightly more than females in both countries, with 86% of men visiting the platform in KSA, versus 78% of females. In the UAE, 90% of men use YouTube, versus 85% of females. Our insights also reveal that snackers can be easily reached while browsing – specifically on Google – with 84% of snackers using Google in KSA, and 91% in the UAE.


Does YouTube influence what snackers buy and eat?

Yes, and yes. Our data reveals that YouTube plays a starring role throughout snackers’ journeys, making appearances in different phases of the decision-making and purchasing processes.

  • YouTube inspires three out of ten people to make snack purchases, with snackers using the platform both proactively and reactively as a decision making and research tool.
  • YouTube gives nearly half of all snackers guidance on purchases, encourages people to consider advertised brands, and helps snackers understand how and where to buy brands.
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The cherry on top for brands is that snackers enjoy consuming snacking-related content on YouTube.

  • In KSA, 89% watch snack-related content on YouTube, and a good 91% of YouTube users have subscribed to a respective channel.
  • In the UAE, 91% watch snack-related content on YouTube, with 89% of users subscribing to a respective channel.

What do snackers love to watch on YouTube?

A little bit of this, and a little bit of that, although product demonstrations and online reviews are highly rated.

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What influences snackers’ brand perception?

Our data shows that in both the UAE and KSA, positive snack-brand association comes from products that:

  1. Are easily available (46% in the UAE and 42% in KSA)
  2. Feature healthy ingredients (46% in the UAE and 35% in KSA)
  3. Offer value for money (41% in the UAE and 39% in KSA)

What influences what snackers actually buy though?

Similarly, snackers like to buy treats that:

  1. Feature healthy ingredients (25% in the UAE and 18% in KSA)
  2. Offer value for money (14% in the UAE and 13% in KSA)
  3. Are easily available (14% in the UAE)


So, what do Google’s insights mean for your brand?

  • One of our key research takeaways is that consumption and purchase habits are different across markets and target groups. With this in mind, it’s essential that your brand ensures its campaigns accurately reflect audiences’ habits and wants.
  • YouTube, specifically, plays a vital role in a snacker’s purchasing decisions, making it imperative that your brand is easily discoverable on YouTube at different stages of the purchase funnel.
  • Speaking of buying, our data reveals that people’s snack-brand perception is based on several attributes, including healthy ingredients, value for money, and easy availability. Knowing what these attributes are, paired with an understanding of what your audience wants from your content, gives you an opportunity to design a campaign that puts your brand in the spotlight, and keeps it ahead of competitors.
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