- According to Meating Place, a new survey by Nielsen found that American households cook dinner at home at least five days a week with the most popular recipes being inspired by Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine.
- The survey additionally showed more than half of home cooks prefer to prepare dinner alone. However, that average includes the fact that among couples, 54% say they prefer to cook with their partners, and of those who have children, 31% like to cook with their kids.
- Even though about a third of respondents ate dinner with their household every night of the week, a quarter of those surveyed eat dinner in front of a screen every night.
It seems that in some ways consumers have gone back to the kitchen. With less disposable income than their parents, the younger generation is relying on restaurants less, which provides food manufacturers with significant opportunities to meet their needs.
However, there is one big difference between the home chefs of today and those who came a generation before. Today’s consumers are insisting on fresh, better-for-you, easy-to-prepare meals. So how can food manufacturers tap into these changing trends? By thinking outside of the box.
In today’s world, time is a premium ingredient, which has inspired a proliferation of meal kits, online grocery delivery services and ready-to-eat meals. But Big Food can also take advantage of this trend and the willingness of consumers to turn on their ovens by promoting easy one-pot recipes or ready-to-eat products of their own. And the best way to do that is online.
Since the Nielsen survey showed that a quarter of Americans spend dinnertime on their screens, it would be advantageous to tap into their primetime browsing — when food is at the top of their minds — by promoting various recipes and ingredients through social feeds.
Nielsen data shows that online browsing leads to impulse buys and that shoppers are 5% more likely to make an impulse grocery buy online than in-store. The key is simply finding out how to engage and excite shoppers. This could be done by providing an engaging video, a recipe or even a related meme that consumers can share with their social media circles.
With smart technology controlled by phones permeating many U.S. homes, the web may also be an ideal platform for companies to utilize to coach consumers through recipes and give them opportunities to interact with their brands.
General Mills promotes cooking videos that teach consumers how to incorporate its products into related at-home recipes on grocery sites with which it partners. Facebook is developing AI that deciphers consumers’ favorite recipes from photos of their dishes — a technology that brands could use to help build loyalty through paid partnerships to ensure their products land in the appropriate recipes.
At the same time recipe videos can introduce products to consumers, video is an also a medium to encourage families to interact both in the kitchen and at the dinner table. By speaking to the whole family, manufacturers can find a place in their lives and evolve from an impulse buy to a planned purchase. After all, when consumers make memories with a brand, it can be hard to switch later on. Especially for those who cook with their children, this can be a valuable association as the next generation comes into their own spending power.
Still, manufacturers are going to have to continue to contend with the time pressures that Americans face today. To better compete for these consumers, marketing dollars should be directed toward ready-to-eat offerings and meal kit options in order to help cooking at home remain a fun, lighthearted experience — and not drudgery to be completed after a long work day.