• Recipe Guru Team

How Food Brands Can Help Consumers Adapt To A Holiday Season Like No Other

2020 has been a year like no other and while we all adapt to new ways of living during a pandemic, it's still difficult to get a picture of what the holiday season will bring. One thing that is certain is that consumers have been planning for the holiday season even earlier than usual this year. Holiday searches on Pinterest jumped 77% in April 2020 versus April 2019. Recipe searches spiked even higher during lockdown than they do during the holidays but with interest in home cooking at an all-time high, we expect to see increased interest in recipe content year-over-year during the holiday season. Since food is central to the holiday season, food and grocery brands need to adapt their marketing plans to suit what is expected to be a very different holiday experience for consumers.

Let's take a look at four distinct personas and how food and grocery brands can help them achieve their holiday season food goals this year.

The small family gathering

Lisa and Jonathan live in Pennsylvania with their two young children and usually host both sides of the family at Christmas. Travel restrictions, underlying health conditions and economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic mean the usual gathering of twenty-five people has been reduced to just four. Lisa and Jonathan could prepare Christmas dinner for a large group with their eyes closed, but they don't know how to scale things down to suit their small family. A large turkey would be overkill so they're looking for alternatives that won't lead to too much food waste and after a year of homeschooling they're looking forward to a relaxed, hassle-free day.

How can food and grocery brands help Lisa and Jonathan?

Holiday recipes assume that people are feeding a large crowd, but that is not always the case. Uncertainty surrounding the pandemic means people are planning for more intimate holiday celebrations, most likely with immediate family only. Food and grocery brands should ensure that their recipe database includes recipes to suit smaller group sizes and alternatives to traditional options such as whole turkey that are more suited to a crowd. Your bog-standard roast chicken recipe won't cut it here. People like Lisa and Jonathan want the day to feel like a celebration even if their families can't join them and the food they cook needs to be special enough to achieve that goal. By enabling website visitors to filter holiday recipes by how many people they serve, food and grocery brands can save people like Lisa and Jonathan time scrolling through unsuitable recipes or working out how to scale recipes down.

The first-time holiday cooks

Liam and Thiago usually go their separate ways for the holidays, visiting family on opposite sides of the country. This year the pandemic means they're staying put in Seattle and hosting friends who live in the same building for Thanksgiving. They rarely cook and their experience of cooking a Thanksgiving meal ranges from peeling a mountain of potatoes to decanting shop-bought cranberry sauce into a serving bowl. They have promised their friends a Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings though and they're not about to go back on that promise, even if their kitchen isn't much bigger than a postage stamp.

How can food and grocery brands help Liam and Thiago?

Many people were unexpectedly introduced to the joys and stresses of home cooking for the first time when restaurants closed and stay-at-home orders were enforced so the situation Liam and Thiago find themselves in will be familiar to many. Add in the expectations of Thanksgiving however and first-time holiday cooks might feel rightly overwhelmed. People like Liam and Thiago will need reliable, step-by-step recipe content that will enable them to create a meal to remember despite their lack of experience. Alongside Thanksgiving recipe content, additional content such as meal planners and video content will help them achieve their goal. With limited space in their kitchen and no experience with cooking a meal like this, explicitly tagging recipes that can be made in advance, frozen and reheated will be valuable.

The lockdown chef

Lewis has always loved to cook and the extra free time awarded to him by lockdown means he has taken his skills to the next level. He lives in Louisiana, surrounded by lots of friends and family, and is planning on hosting several small gatherings throughout the holiday season, eager to make up for lost time while showing off his new-found cooking and baking skills. Elaborate holiday-themed cakes, unusual cocktails and restaurant-quality meals are all part of his ambitious plans.

How can food and grocery brands help Lewis?

Many of us have developed our cooking skills over the past few months, taking advantage of the free time to work on perfect plating or discover the intricacies of our favourite cuisine. Lewis is not alone. 75% of Americans say they have become more confident in the kitchen. These lockdown chefs are looking to whip up something a little different this holiday season and more interesting or complex recipe content will appeal to them. They're not afraid to tackle more difficult recipes but to avoid any potential disasters for those who aren't as confident, tagging your recipe content by difficulty will help your customers select the appropriate level. Home baking has boomed over the past few months and since the holiday season is a time to indulge our sweet tooth, recipes for more complicated and impressive bakes are as important to people like Lewis as savoury recipes.

The nostalgia seeker

Nancy is looking forward to welcoming her three daughters back to their childhood home in Connecticut during Hanukkah. She hasn't seen any of her children since March and after a year of uncertainty she's looking forward to a traditional holiday celebration with her family. She's going all-in on the comfort foods she loves to eat this time of year, from latkes to sufganiyot, making everything from scratch. These traditions have been part of Nancy's life since childhood and they give her a sense of comfort after a tough year.

How can food and grocery brands help Nancy?

Sales of childhood comfort foods jumped significantly over the past few months. During times of crisis, people turn to nostalgia and food is no different. Nancy's way of coping with a difficult year is to turn to embrace a more nostalgic holiday season. Food and grocery brands probably already have traditional holiday season recipe content in their databases but to connect with people like Nancy a wider marketing campaign that places traditions at its centre is required. Recalling a more carefree time and intertwining these memories with traditional holiday-appropriate recipe content will speak to people like Nancy who see comfort in nostalgia.

Embracing a holiday season like no other

2020 has been a year of lost memories, and the holiday season will hold greater significance in people's lives as a result. For many, that will mean adapting to new ways of celebrating and recipe content will play a central part in adapting holiday plans to suit new circumstances. Food and grocery brands that rise to the challenge of creating a magical holiday season for consumers while helping them adapt to unfamiliar experiences will win out.

Need fresh recipe content to engage consumers during a holiday season like no other? We can help. Our recipe content is tried-and-tested for reliability and we work to your brief, curating the sort of recipe content your customers truly crave. Get in touch with the team here.