Waitrose have released their annual Food and drink survey for this year, and it’s bursting with insight and future analysis for the year ahead. We take a dive and look at which trends are likely to make their presence felt in the coming months.
TREND 1: A Nation of Homebodies
It’s completely predictable that after being confined to our homes for over two years, we’re reluctant to leave. Far from being a prison, our homes have become a sanctuary, with much more time and money being spent on making our environments reflect our personal tastes. Waitrose found that over half of respondents said that they are enjoying home-time more than they used to. Alongside this, about half of respondents also said that they don’t plan to eat out as much as they used to, regardless of the fact that lockdowns are now a thing of the past. Staying at home wasn’t a behaviour reserved for older generations; in fact the 18-34 age group were found to be the most likely to stay in, perhaps an indicator that this trend is universal.
KEY INSIGHT: We’re appreciating the simpler things in life, and our homes are our new focal point.
TREND 2: Return of the dinner party
As consumers, we’re choosing to invest more time in celebrating with those we love, and are prepared to spend a little bit more in order to make it memorable. Out of all of those surveyed by Waitrose, 25% said that they planned to host more dinner parties than they did pre-covid. This is likely a means of making up for the isolation of lockdowns, as over half of respondents said that the past two years have made them more appreciative of quality time with friends and family.
There is however a nuance here – we’re becoming more discerning about who we invite, opting for small intimate gatherings as opposed to ‘big blowouts’. We’re also choosing to be a bit more lavish, with over a third of consumers preferring to spend more money on ‘little things’ when they entertain – think wine and ingredients. This creates a valuable opportunity for the premium market – a little indulgence goes a long way it seems. Consumers essentially want to seize the moment, and live for today, rather than tomorrow.
KEY INSIGHT: Home entertaining is going upmarket, with decadence and style being the flavour of the month (or should that be year?)
TREND 3: The Outdoor Life
Similar to the previous trend, more consumers than ever are enjoying the art of entertaining in their own environment. After investing in their outdoor entertaining space during lockdown, shoppers now want to make the most of what they’ve created, with 34% of respondents saying that they have been using their outdoor space to entertain more. Sales of outdoor cooking equipment continued to grow on the back of strong growth in 2020/21, with one in eight consumers surveyed buying a pizza oven, and one in five investing in a brand new barbecue (we’re sure many may have picked up an Everhot Grill).
Again, a theme of indulging in quality is present, with Waitrose finding that sales of côte de boeuf, swordfish, and crevettes rose strongly. The theme seems to be trading up, with an emphasis on making moments count; with luxury products and high quality produce being in high demand. Providing both a safe covid-free environment and a cost-effective experience, home alfresco dining is definitely here to stay (weather permitting!).
KEY INSIGHT: Consumers want to bring the party outdoors with unforgettable experiences.
TREND 4: SHOPPING EVERYDAY
Shopping trends were already in a state of revolution during peak-covid – now we’re seeing that trend of digital shopping continuing to grow. Just under a quarter of respondents told Waitrose that they’d made their first online food shop this year, with a further 41% saying that they had shopped online for groceries, if not for the first time. Interestingly, Waitrose found that 8% of respondents reported shopping for groceries every day – an increase of 4% on last year. This reflects a changing dynamic in how we choose to shop; consumers are living in the now, with a desire for instant availability and spontaneous decision making leading the way. Convenience is key, however the effects of lockdown may be to blame – with more people working from home than ever before, a trip to the shops is one way to break up the monotony of home-working.
KEY INSIGHT: Quality convenience is key, and on-demand shopping will continue to grow.
TREND 5: Social Eating
It’s no surprise that Gen Z are becoming known as Generation TikTok – a staggering 75% of 18-24 year olds in Waitrose’s survey reported looking to Instagram and Tik Tok for culinary inspiration. It’s no surprise – ‘Food-Tok’ is fast, creative and mouth wateringly good to watch. This thirst for food inspiration is driving an ever-increasing sense of pride in our culinary exploits, with over three-quarters of 18-24 year old admitting to taking greater pride in how their meals taste than they did previously. Perhaps a growing love of entertaining is conducive to a growing love of cooking, particularly amongst younger age groups?
KEY INSIGHT: Social media is the channel to capture a young foodie market.
TREND 6: Regenerating our planet
Thanks to events such as COP26, sustainability and caring for the planet is yet again at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Nearly 80% of respondents from Waitrose’s survey said that they were concerned with the amount of plastic used within food packaging, with a further 74% of people stating that they have tried to make more of an effort not to waste food this year, a sign that that concern around ethics and sustainability are starting to take hold. Waitrose’s survey revealed that 69% of respondents classed as ‘Gen Z’ said that they were more likely to buy from a brand that focuses on social responsibility, indicating that the green agenda will intensify in the years to come. Brands still have a lot of work to put in however; while 37% of consumers thought that businesses were doing enough to help the environment, 27% disagreed.
KEY INSIGHT: Sustainability is now ingrained at a young age – and the benchmark for social responsibility will continue to grow.
What do these trends mean for your food and drinks brand?
We now live in a world where trends can erupt and engulf the market within a couple of weeks. Ride the wave, and you could enjoy an unexpected boost to sales of your product. Miss the trend, and you risk falling behind.
It’s important to ask yourself – what new opportunities are relevant for my brand to seize?
- If more consumers are buying everyday, do I need to create a smaller SKU of my product, to capitalise on small impulse purchases?
- If consumers are enjoying the back garden-dining, can I create a limited edition summer variant of my product?
- If the 18-35 year old market are getting their ‘foodspiration’ from instagram and Tik Tok, do I need to invest in creating a social media presence for my brand?
With over thirty years of experience, we’re experts in finding new opportunities for brand growth; and most importantly, we’ll make sure that you hit the mark.
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