The saying 'staying in is the new going out' may be right up there with 'grey is the new black' or 'television is the new rock and roll' in terms of daft catchphrases that pigeonhole us into the latest fad or trend, but it is not without a grain or two of truth.
For a variety of reasons the big night out that many of us enjoy is more often than not turning into the big night in. The cost of going out is one reason often cited, as more people are watching what they are spending. Another factor that has been widely mooted is that with working longer hours during the week, many of us are simply too knackered to contemplate anything more strenuous on a Friday night than drinking a bottle of wine and watching a DVD.
Of course if we are staying in then we don't want to be miserable and so with some of the money we are saving by not going out, we can afford a little more by the way of a treat or two. Hence one of the most potent reasons for the growth of adult snacking.
The premium bagged, adult snack is designed for either sharing with friends or simply as an indulgent treat after a hard day's work or at the end of a busy week.
PepsiCo trade marketing manager Cara Beeby explains: "I know myself, that when Friday night comes around I am usually far too tired to even think about venturing out."
Beeby believes she is typical of a much wider lifestyle change among young adults. "I do think that there is a real trend towards staying in across the board. It has become a major part of socialising whether it's having friends round or the girls' or lads' night in."
Importantly, says Beeby, is the fact that unlike many other big trends where only the supermarkets benefit, the growth in adult snacking can provide a real win for the convenience sector.
Impulse plays a key role in snacking and last month PepsiCo demonstrated just how important it is by launching its Walkers Sensations in a new pricemarked format exclusively for the convenience sector.
The 110g, 99p pricemarked packs are available in the three best selling Sensations flavours; Thai sweet chilli, vintage Cheddar & red onion chutney, and oven roast chicken, lemon & thyme.
Beeby suggests that the move was made to support independent traders and help them to maximise sales from snacking. "You need to work with the trade to help them take advantage of the opportunities in the category. You could just stock these lines and hope that they will sell themselves, which they will to a certain extent, but by giving them proper display the uplift can be so much bigger."
This is the company's second venture into pricemarked packs, after a similar trial last year with the Doritos brand. Beeby claims that the introduction of Doritos in 140g, 99p pricemarked packs, resulted in a 64% sales increase through independents.
Another major snacking company that is looking to embrace the convenience sector is UBUK. In July the company chose convenience stores as the sector for the re-introduction of its premium adult brand, Phileas Fogg.The fact that Phileas Fogg has been brought back to the market at all says a great deal about the strength of adult snacking and the demand for more premium products.
The brand itself almost created the premium sharing market back in the 1980s but eventually struggled to compete against a host of new entries into the sector, which had more mainstream appeal and were better supported by marketing.
UBUK manufacturing controller Stuart Deeley believes that the time was right to bring the brand back and says it has returned to its heritage by developing a gourmet range of flavours from what he refers to as "the finest of ingredients sourced across the globe".
High quality
"The brand has always been known for sourcing high quality natural ingredients," says Deeley. "Where possible we have tried to continue that. Our poppadoms are made in India, for example, while the black olives are shipped in from Italy."
Deeley believes that impulse purchases will be vital to the brand's success, which is why the company has chosen unusual pastel-coloured packaging to give it greater shelf stand-out in a category that, he says, is dominated by either black or white packs.
"We have recognised the convenience sector as a key route to market for the brand and a big part of its success will come down to distribution. We are giving independent grocers an opportunity to boost their impulse sales with something that won't be available in the multiples at least this side of Christmas. I hope as many independents as possible will take us up on our challenge."
He says that the early sales of the relaunched Phileas Fogg have been good but that the big push will be in the run up to Christmas in a bid to drive the distribution and encourage repeat purchases.
The fact that consumers are willing to spend a little bit more when it comes to a snacking treat has also provided a shot in the arm for another brand that first came to prominence in the 1980s - Kettle Chips.
Kettle claims that the brand is currently growing at an impressive 30.5% year-on-year in what is a static market created by health-conscious consumers eating fewer crisps.
Like Phileas Fogg, Kettle is very particular about its choice of ingredients and the company says that its success is largely down to consumer demand for real food and authentic ingredients.
The brand has recently gone through a redesign which emphasises the company's all-real, no additives policy.
It has also included a traffic light GDA (guideline daily amount) panel prominently on pack which taps into the other key driver for snacking, health concerns.
Kettle Foods managing director Jeremy Bradley says: "We are obsessed with genuinely delivering only real ingredients and have been since 1989. Increasingly consumers and the media are seeing things the same way, as trends move towards a desire for authenticity and honesty from manufacturers.
"Unlike many manufacturers, we hand cook and source only natural ingredients to make our unique flavours. We have a 100% natural ingredients policy that has proved a natural winner."
Of course it's not just crisps that are booming because of the big night in, popcorn is also going through something of a renaissance. This has prompted the arrival of leading American microwave popcorn brand, Orville Redenbacher's.
David Collier, director of sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, believes that popcorn is seen as a healthier alternative to crisps and confectionery and also appeals to consumer demand for a gourmet, occasional snack.
He explains: "Popcorn is a nutritious snack choice, it is high in fibre and 100% wholegrain, and as a company we recognise the need to offer healthy alternatives to the traditional flavours. As the microwave popcorn sector grows our aim is to extend our range to include these options."
The popcorn is available in three flavours: honey butter, sweet, salty and movie theatre butter.
support package
The brand, which launched in the UK last month, is backed by a £5m marketing package including 6,000 sampling days, a series of trade ads as well as radio and newspaper competitions across the country. The company is planning to develop TV advertising for later this year.
Finally, Asian food specialist Sharwood's is launching into the big bag snacks sector in a bid to extend the Asian eating experience beyond the main evening meal. So the company has come up with a range of Mini Puppodums in four flavours including crushed cumin seeds and tikka spice & black pepper. The snacks come in 70g foil packs, rrp £1.39; and also available are ambient Asian dips, in 260ml glass jars, rrp £1.39.
The launch is supported by a £3m campaign including advertising in women's lifestyle magazines and a high-profile PR and sampling campaign.