Almost overnight, COVID-19 has changed everything across our lives, including the way we eat and drink. Instantly, we swapped our date nights, coffee runs, and family dinners for curbside pickups, socially-distanced grocery store lines, and virtual happy hours. As the brisk bustle of daily life subsided, purchasing and preparing food went from just another item on an endless to-do list to an everyday priority that requires focus and attention.
Results from OBERLAND’s new survey, which examined shifts in consumer behavior during COVID-19 as pertaining to the food and beverage industry, demonstrate a dramatic rise in intentionality surrounding food and beverage choices. With increased hours at home and few social distractions, we have an abundance of time to hone our focus around what we eat and drink, where we purchase our food, and how we cultivate our meals - in other words, to “single-task.”
With restaurant doors shut people now view food and meal preparation as a “Make It Yourself” experience - to be created, discovered, curated, and enjoyed on one’s own. Nearly everyone OBERLAND surveyed (83%) said they were cooking either somewhat or significantly more than they had in the past. People are even taking food growing into their own hands with nearly 25% of Americans reporting that they started growing their own food at home during Covid. As consumers continue to settle into this enterprising mentality, brands have a unique opportunity to encourage and support this attitudinal shift through acting as “meal brands” rather than “food products,” and thus build relationships with consumers that run deeper than just their categories.
A new shift is also taking place when it comes to gender dynamics and eating, as the traditional “breadwinners” have become “bread-makers.” With working men spending significantly more time at home, a new group of “emerging male foodies” is challenging traditional household gender roles in a way we’ve never seen before. Our survey results show that nearly 3x more men are doing the grocery shopping and cooking for their homes than previously before, and across the board, men are significantly more active in the purchasing, preparation and delivery of meals for their homes. Brands like Bed Bath & Beyond are now catering their Father’s Day promotions towards cooking and working to secure a new, loyal consumer base.
With more time to focus on meals at home, Americans have also stopped taking a product-by-product view of the food they buy, instead prioritizing complete meals and long term planning. This holistic approach has Americans hungry for practical, fully fledged meal ideas, recipes, and other information. We are witnessing a remarkable erosion of product-specific silos, presenting opportunities for brands to break boundaries and escape the limits of their specific product range. From partnerships to media content, it’s no longer about the products your brand produces, but how those products contribute to the food experience in a household.
Americans have proven that even as we’re confined to our homes, our generosity knows no financial bounds. When it comes to supporting the businesses and people who keep us well fed, Americans are putting their money where their mouth is.
As the dynamic food and beverage industry continues to evolve, it's up to brands to shift gears and adapt to a COVID world.