Why Standing Out From The Crowd With Recipe Content Is More Important Than Ever
Updated: Oct 15, 2020
The way we approach grocery shopping and meal planning has changed over the past few months. Pre-Covid, online grocery adoption was increasing slowly but its growth was hampered by consumer reluctance. Then the reality of Covid-19 hit and online grocery became a necessity for many. Months later, online grocery adoption is still high. U.S online grocery sales hit $7.2 billion in June, a 9% increase on May's figures. This is the unsurprising result of a global pandemic that continues to surge in some countries while petering out in others. Right now, it's impossible to predict what the future holds for online grocery, but grocery habits, in general, have changed and recipe content is more important than ever for brands and grocery retailers hoping to grab the attention and spending power of consumers.
There are several reasons for this.
People are shopping less frequently
Figures from Waitrose revealed that in pre-pandemic times more than half of consumers didn't decide what to eat for dinner until lunchtime, with a staggering one-third of consumers waiting until at least 4 pm to decide. This was a normal (if a little inefficient) way of planning meals pre-Covid. Popping to the supermarket on the way home from work was not a big deal. It meant that grabbing the attention of those consumers relied heavily on special offers and merchandising. With more people working from home, those after-work trips to the supermarket have been replaced by after-work trips to the kitchen to prepare a planned meal and opportunities to attract consumers to a brand in-store have reduced. People are also planning more meals in advance and making one trip to the supermarket to gather ingredients rather than a number of trips throughout the week. 27% of consumers are planning more meals in advance per figures released by FMI. For that 27%, the inspiration stage of meal planning is happening less frequently than pre-Covid times. Pre-pandemic, 67% of consumers shopped once a week or more. That number has now dropped to 47%. When trips to the supermarket are less frequent and recipe discovery opportunities are also less frequent, standing out from the crowd in order to get your brand into a customer's basket is even more vital. Recipe content that is immediately engaging, relevant to a customer's needs and reliable enough to position a food brand as a trusted source of meal inspiration increases brand awareness and loyalty. It places the brand at the front of a customer's mind when they're shopping for that particular recipe and in the case of shoppable recipe content, it automatically places the brand in the online grocery basket. The reality is that all recipe content is not created equal and poorly planned, untested and badly photographed recipe content will be ignored in favour of high quality, professionally shot recipe content. When a busy home cook is spending one evening a week planning meals and searching for recipe inspiration, he or she is going to visit trusted sources first. Building a reputation for high quality, reliable, crave-worthy recipe content takes time, but for food brands who have fewer opportunities to capture the attention of consumers, it should form a central part of their marketing strategy.
People will continue to cook more frequently
It's clear that home cooking is trending out of necessity, but out-of-home dining options have reopened to varying degrees in many countries and as consumer confidence in eating out grows, you would assume that home cooking is about to take a major hit. This is not necessarily the case. This quote from Credit Suisse's Robert Moskow explains why:
We counted three economic recessions in the past 30 years, and in each of them the data showed that consumers shifted more toward at-home food consumption to save money, away from the structural trend of eating away from the home.
We're potentially looking at an uptick in home cooking out of economic necessity that has been preceded by a pandemic-related uptick in home cooking. People have had 4 months to get used to the idea of cooking at home and while some will be only too happy to leave it behind, new habits and economic uncertainty will mean many will continue to cook at home more often than before. Of the 54% of Americans who said they were cooking more often because of the pandemic, 51% said they would continue to do so post-Covid. 50% cited trying new recipes as a reason to cook more often while 34% said they were searching more often for new recipes. Great news if recipe content is part of a food brand's marketing strategy. Not so great if their recipe content is getting lost in a sea of more engaging recipe content from competitors and more established recipe websites alike. The takeaway here is that there is a clear appetite for fresh recipe content and a lasting interest in home cooking and uninspiring recipe content just does not cut it if you want to make a genuine impact with consumers and stand out in a crowded space.
Online impulse buying is becoming the new normal
The change in the way we shop for groceries has also impacted impulse purchases. Grocery impulse purchases have always been more common in-store than online and while that is still the case, 16% of online consumers made more impulse buys in June than in May. Personalised recommendations are a powerful way to encourage impulse buying, particularly when they relate to previous or most frequently purchased products. Recipe content has a part to play here too though, particularly shoppable recipe content. Since online grocery adoption is still high, making your recipe content shoppable is a powerful way to encourage impulse buys. Personalised recipe recommendations with prominent 'add ingredients to basket' buttons make impulse buying more convenient for consumers with the added bonus of increasing basket value. (According to Asda, consumers using recipe content to shop add three more items to their cart than when they shop without recipe content.) For food brands without a direct to consumer solution, partnering with grocery retailers to promote the brand via shoppable recipe content and adding a particular branded product to the basket by default is a strategy worth exploring.
The past few months of pandemic disruption have been a lesson in adaptability for marketing teams but one thing remains constant: the quality of your recipe content matters if you want to stand out from the crowd and leverage lasting interest in home cooking.
Recipe Guru combines chef-authored recipe content with shoppable recipes and deep-insights solution that takes your recipe marketing strategy to a more engaging and data-driven level. If you're interested in learning more, we'd love to chat. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's cook up something amazing.