When Americans sit down to have something to eat or drink, there's a better than 50-50 chance they are doing it alone, according to new research from The NPD Group.
Breakfast is the mealtime when Americans are most likely to be alone, with 60 percent of all eating occasions occurring with one person. The reason for the high percentage is the time pressures Americans face in the morning. As a result, breakfast consumption often takes place in a car, on mass transit or behind a desk.
Lunch is a slightly less lonely eating occasion, with 55 percent taking the meal by themselves. Here too, time constraints are a factor as people attempt to wolf something down in between errands or before having to return to work.
Dinner, or supper for those who prefer, is the least lonely meal, with only 32 percent of meals being eaten by a single person. According to NPD, American families make time to dine together at least five times a week.
"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," said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst, in a statement. "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."
Among the many demographic changes reshaping America is the rise of single-person households. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the percentage of one-person households increased from 10 percent in 1970 to 27 percent by 2012, the highest level in the nation's history.
How effective, in general, have retailer and CPG brands been at addressing the needs of single-person households?