A new era of upgraded home cooking has arrived.
A recent infographic from the Hartman Group (shown above) reveals that 77% of consumers across various generational segments – from Millennial to Boomer – prefer having home cooked meals whenever possible.
The seismic food culture shift towards higher quality, real and fresh foods by itself, forecasts a renewed devotion to the kitchen and what occurs there. When you buy fresh ingredients, some degree of preparation is just around the corner.
What’s driving this preference for home cooked meals and culinary exploration as home chefs hone their skills? In fact, the preference for cooking is, in and of itself, a culturally relevant phenomenon that tracks with current behaviors and ideals around how we live and what we believe about food.
Here at Emergent we’ve deconstructed this development into its component parts to better understand the motivations (and opportunities) underneath.
We believe the future is bright for:
- Supermarkets and other channels of food retail,
- Food companies feeding the fresh product and ingredient pipeline, and
- Suppliers of culinary gear and appliances to make magic in the kitchen.
1. Cooking Satisfies Yearning for Customization
Customization is a pervasive evolution in the marketplace because people regard themselves as unique, special and want their own preferences to be installed in the products they buy and consume.
- Our choice of preparation technique
- Degree of doneness (determining taste, temperature and texture)
- Selecting and mixing of fresh, local and/or exotic ingredients
- Flavor variety through spice combinations and rubs
- Personalized sides and main dishes to create diversified menus
2. Cooking is Creative
The hordes of culinary programs on cable and network TV, many of them competition based and focused on culinary wizardry, speak to the creative aspects of food preparation.
What goes on in the kitchen:
- By definition, cooking is a creative outlet
- It is a personal expression of our food preferences and beliefs
- It is a social event that facilitates conversation and relationship
- Builds self-esteem and fulfills a sense of accomplishment
- Like any passion, it continually feeds the desire for mastery over time
3. Cooking Offers Control
People prefer a sense of control over their lives and futures. Cooking allows us to control what goes into our bodies more fully. It helps us set the table so to speak about our decisions around food.
- Timing and circumstances around meals
- Sizes and portions of what is presented
- Eating occasions and how elaborate or informal we want to make them
- Sequence of what comes first, second and third in a meal
- Organic or not
- Fresh ingredient or prepared options
- Healthy and/or indulgent choices
4. The Convenience Factor
Outsourcing a meal might be viewed as the ultimate in convenience. However, out-of-home eating requires planning, movement and schedule consideration around work, school, recreation and other activities. While these events remain a factor for any meal, the ability to run into the kitchen and whip something up at a moment’s notice is another form of easy.
- Your kitchen is open 24/7 to you and everyone else in the household
- You can pre-stock all your favorites to have on-hand
- Ready-to-eat or ready-to-prepare
5. Feeds Sense of Community
The informality of the household environment and absence of structure around ordering, eating and paying, helps facilitate a unique social experience. When friends and family gather, the heartbeat of the house is in the kitchen where creation and conversation coalesce.
The home table is social:
- We graze while chatting – private not public
- Enjoying someone’s cooking is a heartfelt gift
- Food and drink at home is relaxing and supports social discourse
- Family time at the table can offer some of life’s most important moments
- No intrusions allowing people to feel open and honest
We believe the new era of Culinary Culture moves eating at home and food preparation past fuel ups and three-square intake obligations, to more creative expressions around food and what a meal is.
Food brands and retailers have been given a gift: an extraordinary opportunity to be a facilitator and enabler of home cooking passions and desire to learn. Engagement and connection is made possible when business looks at the relationship with consumers as more human and personal rather than transactional.
As cooking capability and expertise elevate, the desire for trust and support go up with them. The end result: healthier and higher quality lives. We believe we all have a responsibility in the food and beverage business to embed this mission in how we operate and go to market.
The end result will be profitable in more ways than one.
Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent Healthy Living. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies. Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact [email protected] and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.