It’s summer, which gave many consumers the ability to ‘get out’ a bit more amid lockdowns, but the fall season is fast approaching with a likely altered approach to school schedules and cooler weather. These factors will only reinforce the continuation of two lifestyle changes cultivated by the pandemic – working from home more and going out less. As a result, consumers will continue to spend more time at home, preparing more of their own meals, and in need of small appliance and housewares products to help them solve an evolved set of in-home food and beverage needs.
Coffee and breakfast is less likely to be something ‘on-the-go’ from a favorite coffee shop or eatery passed on the way to work. And with adjusted learning, children will likely be spending more time at home, further altering the kinds of breakfast items being prepared and consumed. In the 13 weeks ending June 27, 2020, 1 million more coffee and espresso makers and over half a million more electric grills and griddles were sold than the same period last year. Based on the 41% increase in unit sales of single-serve blending and processing products, there will also be a return to home smoothie-making for consumers looking for easy and healthy options for parents and their kids.
Similarly, consumers are home at lunchtime much more than ever before. This means countertop toaster ovens, countertop microwaves, and sandwich makers will continue to be important, even after their April through June double-digit unit growth. Products that will help the consumers quickly make their own hot sandwiches, heat up leftovers, or simplify soup creation for a midday meal will offer a pleasant alternative to cold options, or the local deli dash they may be accustomed to. And what goes with a lunchtime sandwich or burger at dinner? Fries. Enter the air fryer, with nearly 2 million more units selling in the 13 weeks ending June 27 than the same time last year. The majority of food items consumers cook in their air fryers are potatoes.
With many U.S. consumers spending less time commuting and going out to eat less, dinners have the opportunity to be more of an experience – whether enjoying the preparation while having some more downtime, or engaging the family in meal creation. Preparation and cooking gadgets deliver a helping hand and can make the experience even more enjoyable. When dinner is done (or any time of day), homemade sweet treats continue to be a popular indulgence and pastime. Baking boomed early in the pandemic. April through June dollar sales of stand mixers doubled last year’s results, and tools and gadgets geared at baking, mixing, and measuring grew 61%. We can expect this behavior to see another surge during the fourth quarter as consumers once again look for things to do indoors.
The future is still in flux, but even beyond recovery, we can expect consumers will spend more time at home than before the COVID-19 crisis. It’s important to adjust our strategies to address the new ‘normal’ of consumer needs, and think about how we can fit into and ease the adjustment to their modified lifestyles.
Source: The NPD Group / Retail Tracking