The Post-Pandemic Smart Kitchen
Prior to the pandemic, many of the benefits of the smart kitchen revolved around convenience. From switching on the oven one the way home from a busy day at work to checking the contents of your refrigerator from the grocery store, the smart kitchen positioned itself as the solution to our busy lives. While life is slowly returning to normal, the pandemic has given many people time to reflect on their pre-pandemic lives and how they can achieve a better work-life balance post-pandemic. For some, that means continuing to work from home. According to a survey by The National Chicken Council (NCC) and WATT Global Media, 20-25% of people in the US plan to work from home beyond 2021, creating a staggering 33 million at-home breakfast and lunch occasions. For others, it means making more grocery purchases online. 81% of people expect to shop for groceries online at the same frequency or more often once restrictions are lifted. With commute times disappearing and interest in online grocery skyrocketing, what does this mean for the post-pandemic smart kitchen?
Focus will shift from the commute to the kitchen
71% of consumers say they will continue to cook at home more often after the pandemic. With commute times disappearing and interest in from-scratch meals skyrocketing, smart kitchen appliances still have a part to play, but the benefits will shift from the commute to the kitchen. Rather than using this technology to get ahead with dinner on the way home from work, home cooks will continue to need increased help deciding what to cook for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Smart appliance manufacturers can get ahead of this shift by investing in their recipe content platform, the recipe content it contains and personalisation features that make deciding what to cook more efficient, more relevant and more varied. Equally important is how smart appliances work with the recipe platform to take control of parts of the cooking process, giving home cooks the opportunity to spend time with their families without distractions, as they have become accustomed to over the past 16 months. For example, if the oven temperature needs to be reduced from 220°C to 180°C after 20 minutes, or the broiler needs to be turned on for the last 5 minutes of the cooking time, automating these processes via pre-programmed recipes in a connected app will be valuable for home cooks.
Smart kitchen grocery partnerships will gain ground
For many of us, it has been more than a year since we stopped off for groceries on the way home from work. When you consider that one-third of people didn't decide what to have for dinner until at least 4pm pre-pandemic, those post-work grocery store trips were an important meal inspiration touchpoint. With fewer people commuting and more people buying groceries online, now is the ideal time for smart kitchen appliance manufacturers to double down on creating partnerships with grocery retailers and creating an entire meal planning experience within the smart appliance ecosystem. Rather than stopping off at the grocery store on the way home from work, those who are working from home could be encouraged to stop off at their smart refrigerator or open their connected kitchen app to place a grocery order while they unwind after a long day. Shoppable recipes make this process even more seamless, connecting all aspects of the meal planning journey together and giving home cooks valuable time back.
Consumers have never been more familiar with their kitchens and over the past year or so the limitations of their current set up will have become clear. Add in rising interest in home cooking over the past year and a significant change in the way people plan meals and purchase groceries and opportunities to increase smart kitchen adoption become clear. Focusing on creating a smart kitchen experience that matches our new way of living will pay dividends.