CHICAGO -- Consumption behaviors in the U.S. have become less household-oriented and more individualized than previous generations. Now, more than 50% of eating and beverage occasions happen when consumers are alone, according to Chicago-based research firm NPD Group.
Also contributing to consumers dining alone is that 27% of all households now consist of just one person -- the highest level in U.S. history, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Consumers are alone about 60% of the time at breakfast. Going solo at breakfast is driven by time constraints, routine and being away from home at work or school, according to NPD's market research. More than half (55%) of lunch meals are solitary occasions where quick and easy is the driving need, and, again, many consumers are away from home.
Between-meal occasions, like snacking, are typically solo since these occasions typically occur when consumers are away from home or on the go.
Dinner is the least likely meal occasion to be eaten alone. Only 32% of dinner meals are solo dining occasions. Dinner is unique among meal occasions since it focuses more on being family or socially oriented. Nearly half of all families with kids eat dinner together at least five times a week, according to NPD.
"The number of solo eating and beverage occasions have wide-ranging implications for food and beverage marketers in terms of new products, packaging and positioning," says Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. "As lifestyles shift it's key for marketers to profile and segment occasions when their product is consumed in various ways, including solo versus social occasions, in order to connect most effectively with consumers."