Food for Thought: Snacking Trends Among Young Adult Consumers

By: Sophia Cygnarowicz, Digital Strategist

In today’s food culture, snacks are all the rage. Mintel found that 94 percent of Americans are snacking at least once a day, so it’s no wonder snacking is the greatest growth driver of today’s Consumer Packaged Goods industry. Just ask the girl in this viral video. Consumer’s food choices and mealtime habits are shifting across all age ranges. But what about the motivations behind snacking? Not so much.

Some marketers get caught with their hands in the cookie jar when assuming that consumers – especially the college-aged demographic – mainly snack for convenience and flexibility. As the three-meals-a-day mindset fades, is it truly because 18- to 24-year-olds don’t have the time to wine and dine? As a YAYA consumer myself, I know this isn’t always the case.

Growing up, I lived in the type of household that sat around the kitchen table for family dinners every night of the week. I followed the classic three meal structure and valued the fresh-from-the-oven dinners my parents prepared. Now, even as an overexerted college student, I continue to value a traditional sit-down meal. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll definitely indulge in two packs of fruit snacks to tide me over between meals. Despite this need to temporarily satisfy my hunger, I still favor following structured meal times. Is this true for all 18- to 24-year-old consumers? According to research conducted in the 2018 State of the YAYA report, this seems to be the case.

At MOJO Ad, we study the 18- to 24-year-old market, which we call the Youth and Young Adult (YAYA©) market. This unique life stage commands $82.4 billion in buying power. As the YAYA population is currently caught between millennials and Gen Z, it’s crucial for advertisers and marketers to understand us in order to target us.

Here are key takeaways that are sure to satisfy marketers’ hunger (How can you avoid food puns when writing a blog post about food?!):

  1. We aren’t on that #HealthKick as much as you think.

Particularly with millennials, food retailers have seen increasing popularity in snacks that are clean, organic and less processed, according to Forbes. These consumers like to buy foods that will enhance their quality of life. While some food trends focus on this responsibility of self, our research indicates the majority of YAYA snackers strongly disagreed when asked if they were currently on a diet or watching what they ate. In fact, only 14 to 19 percent definitely agree with avoiding cholesterol, salt, fat, carbs and sugar in the foods they eat. When it comes to food, we eat what we want.  

  1. We have different motivations for snacking.

According to our research, the YAYA market is snacking for emotional reasons. Sixty-seven percent of the YAYA market snacks when they are bored, and 59 percent eat more when stressed out. Mintel states that consumers 18- to 24-years old are most likely to agree the majority of snacks they consume are unplanned and that they snack more out of boredom than hunger. Compare this to millennials, who cite “to treat myself” as the top snacking motivation and “to relieve stress” as one of the lowest. So, when we’re pulling those all nighters, we make sure to stock up on our snacking essentials. Cue the Clif Bars and Goldfish!

  1. We prefer to eat structured meals and believe we have time to do so…

Despite their constant snacking, YAYA consumers would rather eat structured meals than snack throughout the day. In fact, 64 percent of the YAYA market believes they have enough time to have sit-down meals. Additionally, 61 percent of YAYA consumers would rather cook a meal for themselves than have more free time. Time to pull out those Betty Crocker recipe books.

  1. …but our intentions don’t match our actions.

Although we want to follow a three-meal-a-day mindset, we don’t always get what we want. Just because YAYA consumers prefer eating structured meals doesn’t mean they actually do it. Forty-two percent of YAYA consumers agree that snacking helps them get through the day, and 50 percent agree that they often snack instead of eat full meals. Let’s be honest, if we’re in a time crunch, we aren’t going to pass up an opportunity to snack.

At the end of the day, YAYA consumers are continuing to snack regardless of their more traditional meal values. What marketers need to realize is that YAYA consumers are snacking by default. They believe they have no other options. They feel bored and search for a way to cope. What does this mean for the future of snacking? I’ll guess we’ll just have to see how the cookie crumbles.

Learn more about YAYA consumers, MOJO Ad and the 2018 State of the YAYA webcast here.

Young Adults See Traveling as an Experience to Be Shared

By: Ric Dickens, Media Planner

Traveling has become a tremendous part of the lifestyle of 18- to 24-year-olds. As these consumers begin to earn salaries for the first time, many are looking to explore the globe as a way to spend it. This unique life stage is currently caught between millennials and Gen Z, so it’s become increasingly difficult for marketers to target them. At MOJO Ad, we call this group the Youth and Young Adult (YAYA™) market. The YAYA demographic currently commands $82.4 billion in spending power and it’s crucial for marketers to tap into that.

According to our research conducted for the 2018 State of the YAYA Report, 62 percent of YAYA travelers have taken at least one vacation within their state in the last year. Additionally, we found that 72 percent have taken at least one out-of-state vacation in the past 12 months. But in the eyes of YAYA consumers, travel is not just about the destination.

For the YAYA market one of the best parts of travelling is instantly sharing the special moments with the world. As a member of this market, I often think back to my childhood vacations. My mom would take picture after picture of my brothers and me. She’d take pictures of the hotel, the food we were eating and just about every action we took.

To my adolescent mind, it was annoying – but it was what my mom wanted so I went along with it. As soon as she got home, she would run over to Walgreens to get the pictures printed, put them into a scrapbook and keep them there to show off to guests. What took my mom several days back then is something I can do in seconds. My phone serves as my camera and scrapbook, allowing me to share them all with my social media “guests” in seconds.

Sharing is Part of the Experience

Like me, YAYA consumers have traded in old photo albums for a digital album.

If they can’t share their experiences, it’s a big problem. We found that nearly half (47 percent) of YAYA vacationers agree that a vacation isn’t worth taking if they can’t take photos. Similarly, 54 percent of YAYA vacationers wouldn’t want to take a vacation without technology. Technology gives them comfort and security when travelling, while also letting everyone checkout the latest sunrise over that hidden beach in Phuket.

We Do Our Research, But Don’t Mind Being Spontaneous

Additionally, YAYA travelers want to ensure they will have a worthwhile experience. According to Mintel, 77 percent of YAYA consumers conducted online research when planning a vacation in the past 12 months. On top of that, our research shows that a majority of the YAYA demographic agrees that they need at least one month to plan a vacation. This presents an opportunity for marketers to cash in on the YAYA demographic, who is seeking inspiration and is open to suggestion during this month-long planning window. If the YAYA demographic is marketed to effectively, you’ll be able to turn that openness into an act of impulsivity. According to our research, 54 percent of YAYA travelers like to take spur of the moment vacations, probably spurred on by the 25 percent that prefer to book those trips at the last minute to get the best deals. Given the YAYA traveler’s knack for research combined with a desire for a spur-of-the-moment trip, marketers may be able to drive purchases with limited offers and or deals.

Despite Expanding Budgets, YAYA Consumers Can Still be Cheap

Though they’re starting to see their wallet grow, this doesn’t stop YAYA travelers from being price conscious. We found that 54 percent of YAYA vacationers travel to locations where they can get the best deal. This indicates that even if your destination or resort is the nicest option, a value-oriented strategy may be necessary, such as bundling multiple destinations within a single trip. In fact, our research revealed that three out of four YAYAs prefer to visit to multiple cities or locations when traveling.

Another way to win the YAYA traveler over is to add value to the trip, with more destinations or sites for them to see. Almost three of four of our respondents preferred to travel to multiple cities or locations when traveling. If this is something you can’t offer, all hope isn’t lost. Marketers can entice YAYA consumers to bring someone with them to drive down the price. Our research indicates that 64 percent of this demographic will travel with others to offset the cost.

So what does all of this mean? YAYA consumers look for the next great thing to share, especially when it comes to a vacation destination. In doing so, they can generate earned media for you and your brand with every post and like on their social accounts. But to win them over and create a loyal YAYA customer, you’ll have to break through the clutter and entice them with a deal that makes sense for their wallet.

Learn more about YAYA consumers, MOJO Ad and the 2018 State of the YAYA webcast here.

State of the YAYA Methodology


The MOJO Ad staff designed a comprehensive survey to explore the lifestyles, attitudes, and behaviors unique to 18- to 24-year olds. We worked with Qualtrics to distribute our 25-minute survey to their national respondent panel and resulted in 721 complete responses from YAYA consumers, our largest group of respondents to date. The sample was weighted to match current U.S. Census Bureau data.


In addition to our primary research, we utilized secondary research, cross tabulations and comparisons to past State of the YAYA reports to gain insight into the changing YAYA market.

The Social Bowl: How Brands’ Touchpoints Go Beyond the Game

The Social Bowl: How Brands’ Touchpoints Go Beyond the Game

‘Tis the season for brands to spend most of their marketing budgets all in one day. As the 2017 Super Bowl approaches this weekend, brands will spend around five million dollars for a single 30-second spot. Although the big game is iconic for its television spots, recent trends are paving the way for brands hoping to reach younger consumers. By partnering traditional with digital media, brands garner more interactions with that audience while spending less.

Take Pepsi-Co, for example. Last year’s big game featured the second-largest soft drink brand shifting 40 percent of its budget away from television and into the digital realm. Of those who watched the game, 83 percent of viewers aged 18 to 24–or as MOJO Ad lovingly calls them, the Youth And Young Adult (YAYA)™ market–were expected to have a secondary device on hand while watching. Digital and social media are now the hub of conversations during the big game.

Before kickoff, companies have the opportunity to interact with consumers through Facebook, a platform heavily used by the YAYA demographic. Prior to last year’s Super Bowl Sunday, 70 percent of total ad shares for traditional television advertisements had already occurred through Facebook.  Through sharing, liking and tagging, these spontaneous online shoppers, or what we call the Sponloppers, begin to identify brands that resonate with them.

During the game, Snapchat became a key player. Gatorade received 160 million impressions on its animated filter compared to the 115 million people who watched the game. Instagram was the rookie of the year for the 2016 Super Bowl; it offered a 60-second video option for the first time, specifically targeting brands wanting to advertise during the Super Bowl. Throughout gameday, 38 million viewers interacted with related content an average of four times.

When preparing for this year’s Super Bowl, it’s important for brands to become a part of this digital conversation before, during and after the game. This will not only lead to higher engagement with the YAYA demographic, but it will help brands break through the clutter and make the most of their investments. Off the field, businesses can use these tactics to engage with this digital consumer base every day.

MOJO Ad is the premier student-staffed advertising agency at The Missouri School of Journalism. To learn more about YAYA consumers, tune into our 2017 State of the YAYA webcast. Get a taste of our expertise on all things young and see what a partnership with MOJO Ad can do for you.

Best art driven ads for YAYA consumers over the past year

Best art driven ads for YAYA consumers over the past year

From the Olympics to the presidential election, the last 12 months were iconic for advertising. With so much great work produced, we chose our three favorite art-driven ads that targeted YAYA consumers.


  1. Anuncio Lotería de Navidad –


This emotional video is the product of Leo Burnett in Spain. Advertising for the Spanish Christmas Lottery, the longest running lottery in history, this advertisement effectively captures viewers’ attention with the story of a lonely security guard working in a mannequin factory.

The video’s exemplary art direction is enhanced by the uniqueness of the story line, the flawless aesthetic and the representation of an emotional narrative. Illustrated in “Pixar” style and boasting powerful visuals, the ad resonates with American and Spanish audiences as a far cry from the tired and traditional holiday messaging.


  1. Rule Yourself –

Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” campaign from Droga5, created to empower women, has featured athletes such as ballerina Misty Copeland, skier Lindsey Vonn, and tennis star Sloane Stephens. This year, the groundbreaking campaign, which earned the company Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year award in 2014, continued with a feature of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team.

Using only music and images to create emotion, the video artfully captured what it means to be a strong-willed woman by showcasing the team’s rigorous training. Wrapping up the video with simple copy reading, “It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light,” Under Armour created a powerful message (and likely many brand advocates).

According to a recent poll from The Washington Post, 63 percent of women ages 18 to 34 identified as a feminist or a strong feminist. It’s clear that the rise of feminism in America is becoming more prominent among the YAYA demographic. Under Armour perfectly capitalized on this and was among the first brands to capture the essence of the modern feminist mindset. According to Droga5, the campaign speaks to women who do not wait for permission, advice or affirmation from others to go after what they want. It showcases the inherent inner strength in women and praises strong women who defy societal standards to achieve their dreams. This campaign perfectly illustrates how, through brilliant art direction, brands can communicate more by saying less.


  1. #Pixel by you –

To promote its new, proprietary smartphone, the Pixel, Google created a series of video advertisements that highlight a certain emotional or empowering facet – like connectivity or freedom – of their smartphone. In these videos, Google shows these multidimensional benefits with only three words of copy and painstakingly art-directed video. Using bold minimalism, Google distills the emotional values of freedom, togetherness and connectivity that Pixel provides to a form that is concurrently universal and deeply personal.

Minimalism is especially pertinent to the YAYA market as the younger generation is “more into the style of life than the stuff of life,” so an advertisement that bridges two iconic shapes within Google’s repertoire – the search bar and now the outline of the Pixel – should be effective and moving for YAYA viewers.

Written by: Kevin Ackermann, Jillian Mullin and Samantha Huston

If you wanna advertise to YAYAs, you gotta get with their friends

If you wanna advertise to YAYAs, you gotta get with their friends

Since the 18-to 24-year-old demographic relies heavily on the opinions of their peers, glossy, over-produced commercials aren’t going to click with YAYA consumers–they’re looking for authenticity. That’s why they’re more willing to purchase a pair of shoes based on their friends’ opinion as opposed to a sponsored ad on their newsfeed.

These ‘friends’ go beyond the traditional friend group marketers may have in mind as social media influencers, such as beauty bloggers or YouTube personalities, have more pull with this demographic than ever before. According to Business Marketplace, the millennial demographic values endorsements from influencers, whom they consider their peers. According to Shopify, 60 percent of the YAYA market would buy a product endorsed by a social media influencer, such as a YouTuber.  

For example, YouTube sensation Michelle Phan started her beauty YouTube channel in high school and has since gained 8 million subscribers and recently launched a new cosmetic line with L’Oreal. Or take Smosh, a web-based sketch comedy duo. Ian Hecox and Daniel Padilla make up Smosh who got their start back in 2003. Today they have 22 million subscribers and nearly 6 billion video views. Tubular Insights tells us, YouTubers like these resonate with an age group that watches less TV, but spends an average of 11 hours per week watching videos via social media.

That’s not to say throwing content on a popular social media platform will always work. It’s important to find the right social media influencer who aligns with your brand’s values, rather than choosing the influencer with the biggest follower base. Brands should ask themselves, “What makes this influencer a credible source for my brand?”

That’s why companies like Insightpool work to identify these people for you. They monitor conversations people are having about your product in the digital sphere, uncovering key thought leaders who are using products similar to yours to build and authentic relationship between an influencer and your brand.

So, marketers, we believe the Spice Girls said it best when they sang “now don’t go wasting my  precious time.” You can reach wannabe YAYA consumers effectively and quickly with just the right kind of influencer friends.

you tubers with the most subscribers

Sources for graphic:




Written by: Breckyn Crocker, Faith Vickery and Kylie Bixby