Recreating the night out with in-home experiences

As another national lockdown comes into effect in England, brands which ordinarily focus on selling food and drink via the hospitality sector, will be doubling down on their efforts to court consumers in their homes.

According to recent data from Visa, 40 percent of such businesses claimed to have already changed their business model as a result of the pandemic and consumers’ behaviour change.

From rapid switching to kerbside collection and online delivery, through to the development of direct-to-consumer propositions, independents and chains have been keeping their businesses going by getting into the home.

But they aren’t the only ones engaging in a land-grab for these new consumption occasions. FMCG brands that traditionally operate in this space are looking to capitalise on the opportunity offered by increased in-home consumption too.

The more astute brands will recognise that winning in home requires more than just getting their product through the door. It is also about delivering the experience people are looking for in the moments that matter.

Recreating the night out

The evidence shows consumers are hungry for experiences they are missing. ‘Friday night-in’ or the ‘Lockdown dinner’ are now commonplace across social media platforms, with people attempting to recreate their night-out rituals in the home.

Restaurant meal kits and direct-to-consumer delivery services have burgeoned in this context. Côte Brasserie was one early mover, launching their Côte at Home offer back in April to make their classic restaurant dishes available ‘from our kitchen to your door’. Jay Rayner writing for the Guardian described their proposition as ‘proper good food’ – a glowing endorsement from a tough critic.

In a similar vein, the premium spirits company House of Suntory recently partnered with Waitrose to launch a whiskey or gin ‘experience’ box. Alongside the necessary ingredients, high ball glasses and a cocktail spoon bring some theatre to a night-in. Also included is an invite to an online cocktail masterclass to help liven up a Friday night at home. Waitrose says they have proved ‘extremely popular’ with nearly 600 classes hosted to date.

Casual occasions as a long-term revenue opportunity

The on-trade to in-home opportunity is not limited to helping people recreate more special occasions in the home. A potentially lucrative play in the longer term is to target more casual in-home occasions.

For example, when Nando’s first moved into grocery retail with their signature Peri Peri sauce they did so not by promising to replicate the full Nando’s experience but by offering a quick and easy way to elevate the everyday meal. Nando’s Peri Peri is now the UK’s best-selling chilli sauce.

Building propositions around convenience, simplicity and speed, while bringing a little excitement to the mundane, are likely to land well in the in-home environment with its endless distractions, monotonous routines and pressures on time.

These are needs that have been present pre-lockdown and are likely to remain relevant as on-trade outlets eventually re-open.

The keys to in-home success

To not only survive during these times but also establish sustainable future revenue streams, we recommend that businesses explore innovations that tap into both the special and more casual occasion in-home.

Critical to success here will be ensuring that propositions meet the distinct and evolving consumer needs and can stand up to the ever-diversifying competition as more brands move into this space.

In addition, understanding the secret sauce that makes people engage with your brand over others and – in the case of Nando’s, literally bottling it – is key to keeping a connection with consumers through short-term uncertainty and beyond.

Want to hear more and explore how your brand can identify new routes to growth in the face of uncertainty? Get in touch.