Food bloggers and influencers have successfully transitioned from digital to print for many years now, with cookbook publishers snapping up the rights to cookbooks from the likes of Chetna Makan, Izzy Hossack and Smitten Kitchen. It's an easy win for publishers. These influencers already have large, loyal followings, and years of recipe testing means they know what they're talking about. This generally translates to decent sales, with influencer cookbooks rubbing shoulders on the best sellers list with established celebrity chefs. Even so, the enormous success of Pinch of Nom took many by surprise.
The cookbook, which is based on a popular food blog and packed with Slimming World and Weight Watchers friendly recipes, was released in March and sold a staggering 210,506 copies in its first three days. Not only did it become the fastest-selling non-fiction book since records began, but it also ranked 9th on the list of fastest-selling books - a list which includes the likes of JK Rowling and Dan Brown. This is significant enough on its own, but when you consider that there is no shortage of free recipe inspiration available online, its significance increases. Even now, months after it was released, it remains at the top of Amazon's Best Sellers list and has earned more through the TCM than any other title did in the entirety of 2018.
For marketing teams responsible for sourcing recipe content to engage consumers, following and understanding new and emerging trends is top of the agenda. Food brands, in particular, tend to lead with 'what's trending in my industry' when they approach us with their recipe requirements. Not all trends are created equal though. The plant-based trend, which has gone mainstream thanks to environmental concerns, has been embraced by many food brands and grocery retailers but is obviously less relevant to dairy producers. Other trends, such as cauliflower-everything, give brands a powerful way to reach more niche audiences. For most brands, it's the more mainstream trends that will pay dividends. It's clear that Pinch of Nom is trending right now, but what does that tell us about the sort of food consumers are craving?
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It's helpful to understand what Pinch of Nom is all about. According to founders Kay and Kate, Pinch of Nom was started during their weight loss journeys 'to provide some helpful info for fellow dieters, to show just how easy “diet” food is to make.' The recipes are simple and accessible. They use ingredients that are readily available in supermarkets. They take takeaway favourites and recreate them as low-calorie options. The completed dishes look comforting and appetising. The online recipes include information on calories, Slimming World Syns (soon to be removed following a request from Slimming World) and WW Smart Points, but these tried-and-tested recipes stand up to scrutiny by those who aren't necessarily trying to lose weight. Beyond the recipes, Pinch of Nom has created a community of over 1.5 million people on Facebook, with almost 900,000 people joining their private support group.
It's clear that Pinch of Nom is catering to a demographic that craves delicious, comforting meals which use real ingredients and fit in with their health and weight-loss requirements. This is a demographic that can purchase ready meals to fit in with their diet plan, but who choose to cook from scratch at home. It's a demographic that appreciates the tried-and-tested nature of Pinch of Nom's recipes. Food forms a major part of this demographic's day. What they eat can make or break their weight loss goals, but it's also clear that they're not willing to sacrifice flavour.
There's a lesson here for online recipe publishers, whether they're in the grocery, food brand or smart kitchen spaces. 'Healthy eating' has been dominated by trend-based, Instagrammable foods such as overnight oats, nourishing lunch bowls and avocado-everything. It makes sense. Much of the focus of marketing teams has been on capturing the loyalty and spending power of millennials, and we all know that no millennial meal is complete without an avocado! Given the success of Pinch of Nom though, it's clear there is a significant demographic that craves simple, tasty, family-friendly meals that just happen to be low in calories. Another important lesson is that community sells. Recommendations from other people mean a lot to consumers when deciding what to buy or cook. While creating a community from scratch might be a step too far for many brands, encouraging consumers to share their thoughts, reviews and pictures is a smart way to add authenticity. User-Generated Content is an incredibly powerful tool when used in this way.
Healthy eating is always much more difficult when the weather begins to cool down and comfort food is on our minds. As Pinch of Nom's success illustrates, healthy comfort food is having a moment. For companies hoping to leverage its popularity, now's the time to update your recipe content strategy before autumn and winter set in.
If you're considering updating your database to reflect the popularity of healthy comfort food or any other campaign, we'd love to chat. Our vast catalogue of tried-and-tested recipe content can fulfil any brief. Email email@example.com and let's cook up something delicious.