Innovation and the New Core: Recreating Eating Occasions

March 2021

Consumers are expected to be more willing to spend after a year of repressed spending in 2020, and innovation is essential for businesses to tap into revived purchase occasions. Changes to mobility, digital acceleration and an evolving perception of value will inspire a new approach to innovation, alongside themes from before the pandemic. Strategies that meet these new needs while still reflecting pre-COVID-19 values could cause new disruptive concepts to emerge.

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Key Findings

Evolving perception of value and lifestyles to spark innovation

Consumers are expected to wish to relieve pent-up demand after a year of repressed spending in 2020, and innovation is essential for businesses to tap into revived purchase occasions. Industry players must be mindful of household members’ unique challenges and adapt to their new lifestyles.

At-home consumption as a low-hanging fruit

Products positioned to reflect consumer values will gain popularity as consumers become more willing to justify higher priced purchases amidst reduced spending on out-of-home leisure activities. Innovation will be key to revive categories that have been negatively affected by restrictions on dining out and travel during the pandemic.

The blurring between retail and foodservice set to accelerate

Grocery will continue to be attractive, especially as foodservice struggles to return sales to pre-COVID-19 levels. Packaged food through retail is expected to broaden in scope on the back of new business models, convenience and experiential cooking aids at home, and more brands are set to explore take-home options.

Channel innovation will shape the food ecosystem

Mobility and financial pressure on economies will continue to favour channels like mass-market grocery and e-commerce. The growth of digital development and the adoption of technology in consumers’ path to purchase are expected to accelerate the shrinking of supply chains.

Impactful innovation led by several key traits

Food occasions at home may continue to change, depending on stay-at-home measures and mobility trends, and some of these new business models and newly established consumer habits are likely to persist. Prioritising of health, purposeful spending and digital adoption will retain their stickiness, and may cause disruptive concepts to emerge in the future.


Key findings
What will constitute the new “core” in innovation?

New Consumer Needs

Pre-pandemic themes evolve, and so will innovation strategies
The path to successful innovation is enabled by several drivers
Digital acceleration: stickiness differs greatly between age groups
Changes in mobility: regulations still strict a year into COVID-19
New value equation: rises in prices still occurring
Categories where innovation is likely to fulfil pent-up demand

Home as the Focal Point

Continued remote working will retain some at-home consumption
UCook focuses on working women to secure growth
Value: engagement is evolving to remain relevant
Values: opportunities to appeal to various household members
Reinvention: global cuisine a window to alleviate a hunger to travel
Reinvention: retailers highlight international products
Resurrection: stagnant categories grow via at-home consumption

Rebuilding Away from Home

Foodservice freefall has forced innovation for businesses to survive
The blurring between retail and foodservice is set to accelerate
Hot fresh bread at home is possible with a new business model
Loss in foodservice inspires portfolio growth in retail
Resurgence in meal kits is an opportunity for foodservice
Boba: from specialist store drinks to popsicles at home

Channel Innovation

Manufacturers must prepare for continued take-home consumption
Food products fit for grocery and e-commerce channels
A convenience store’s immediate response to new challenges
Remote sales of premium options to be expected
In emerging markets, affordability and localisation remain imperative
The rise of contactless experiences

Long-term Growth

What will be the new “core” in innovation?
Greater focus on self-care increases demand for healthy products
Value-led choices will also be applicable to the entire household
Positioning as a brand for the home and community
The on-demand delivery market will affect food more intensely
Pre-pandemic themes evolve, and so will innovation strategies


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