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ChaseDesign Retail Report #3: At-Home Meals

Welcome back to the dinner table. As restaurants have been forced to close and consumers shelter in place, food purchases are shifting to home-cooked meals. Family dinners—and breakfasts and lunches—are regaining popularity.

While borne out of necessity, this collective reintroduction to kitchens across America is unlocking a feeling of self-accomplishment that comes from cooking something yourself and the pleasure of connecting with loved ones over home-cooked meals.

Convenience & Scratch Cooking: Both Play a Role

Shelf-stable packaged foods are enjoying a renaissance as household staples—time, after all, remains our most precious commodity. Mac and cheese, Hamburger Helper, and pastas have always been convenient standbys, but they’re currently growing in popularity given the state of the world. Market Watch shows that Kraft Heinz, Conagra, General Mills, and Nestle are all enjoying new growth as a result. Treats are on the menu, too, as cookie purchases grew by 50% vs. last year.

But scratch cooking is on the rise, too. Baking ingredients are flying off the shelves with yeast sales up 457% and flour up 155%. According to Bernstein, 60% of consumers say they’re cooking from scratch more now and over 30% plan on continuing this new-found pleasure of cooking for the family, even when the pandemic subsides. This will be further reinforced by the fact that we’re in a period of recession, when eating at home is also a savings strategy for families on a budget. For consumers focused on saving their limited time rather than their funds, meal kits are becoming a convenient choice. As a result, meal kits like Blue Apron and Sun Basket are seeing increased demand.

Home and Family Are Prioritized Again

People are feeling good about family meals taking on new meaning and relevance. As New York Times food editor, Sam Sifton, put it on NPR’s Fresh Air, “A lot of us are really experiencing the joys of eating together with family more regularly.” This shift to family meals is one of the few good things to come out of the pandemic.

The point is the role food plays in people’s lives is changing meaningfully. If you’re in the business of selling food, you’re now in the business of unleashing creativity, building kitchen confidence, creating new feelings of accomplishment, and ultimately enabling more meaningful connections between people.

Shifting Your Food Marketing Strategies

It’s time for food marketers and retailers to reconsider core strategies. Some places to start:

  • Help consumers develop their kitchen confidence. Simple recipes, how-to videos, more pre-cut and convenient ingredients, and easy meal solutions from across your portfolio are great starting points.
  • Create and fuel brand platforms that offer simple and timely meal ideas like Kraft Kitchens or Wegmans Recipes. Social platforms, search, display, and more can offer agile, flexible, and in-the-moment solutions.
  • As people seek convenient comforts, a snacking or dessert strategy is worth considering to capture incremental purchases.
  • For retailers, meal kits should take on a larger importance and can even become core trip drivers for consumers wondering what’s for dinner.
  • As family and community values become more deeply felt with the return to home, elevate focus on eating local ingredients and products.

 

From the right assortment to shelf, aisle, and category presentation, now’s the time to rethink your retail strategies. Our team at ChaseDesign can help. Contact Peter Cloutier at pcloutier@chasedesign.net.