It can sometimes seem like everyone is a foodie. Just open Instagram. It's bursting with beautifully curated, professionally styled food content. Few things have influenced digitally savvy home cooks more than Instagram, but when it comes to recipe inspiration, celebrity chefs are still number one.
The ongoing popularity of celebrity chefs amongst consumers was particularly evident in Amazon's 2017 Trends Report. Cookbooks accounted for 7 out of the top ten print books of 2017, and this 7 was an even mix of healthy eating and celebrity chefs. At the time of writing, Tom Kerridge's latest cookbook tops the best sellers list on Amazon, with Jamie Oliver's '5 Ingredients - Quick & Easy Food' coming in at number 3. Indeed, a previous Jamie Oliver book, 'Jamie's 30-Minute Meals', is the second best-selling non-fiction book in UK history. While more and more cooks are turning to the internet for recipe inspiration, celebrity chefs are still the authority when it comes to cooking, and their cookbooks represent a reliable source of information.
Celebrity chef influence has adapted to a digital world
That's not to say that celebrity chefs eschew all things digital. On the contrary, popular chefs such as Nigella Lawson and Donal Skehan have embraced digital channels, and consumers have responded. 2.57 million people follow Nigella on Twitter, while Donal Skehan's YouTube channel has achieved almost 39 million views. None have mastered digital quite like Jamie Oliver, however. With 10 million unique visitors to his website and over 300,000 active app users per month, alongside YouTube channels and a strong social media presence, Jamie has proven that celebrity chefs dominate online as well as offline.
The original influencer
Amongst celebrity chefs, Delia Smith is the original influencer. 'The Delia Effect' resulted in a 10% rise in sales of white eggs, and she has influenced the sale of everything from omelette pans to tinned mince. Delia is far from alone in driving consumers to the supermarket. Just last month I overheard a woman in search of preserved lemons to complete a recipe from Nigella's latest TV series, and on one memorable Christmas Eve, I witnessed a fight over goose fat. Nigella was again responsible. The influence of celebrity chefs has adapted to the online world too. During a nationwide UK trial, celebrity chef content combined with Twitter endorsements from the chefs themselves resulted in a 43% increase in traffic to our market research website. Their status as experts legitimised the marketing message and consumers acted accordingly.
While the line between celebrity chef and influencer has blurred in recent times, a recognisable name in food epitomizes an aspirational level of trust and quality that consumers can connect with, both in the kitchen and on an emotional level. It is this emotional attachment, more than anything, that influences consumer behaviour - and increases demand for preserved lemons. For retailers and food brands looking to capitalise on this influence, the right collaboration increases awareness, drives increased traffic, and reaches broader audiences.