News Corp Australia has released findings from its annual News Food Corp Network’s Trend Forecast – 2024 Special Edition, a rich insight into the 6.3 million* Australians who connect with the company’s food brands.
Looking at the year ahead, the Trend Forecast reveals the shifts and trends that will have the largest influence on consumer food behaviours, and the strategic opportunities these present for brands.
Managing Director, Food, Travel and Health Fiona Nilsson says: “This is the seventh consecutive year of our Forecast and the trends identified present significant opportunities for brands to align their content marketing strategies.
“There are some fascinating shifts in consumer behaviour right now, changing everything from how Australians plan and shop their groceries to how they consume food content. Audiences are excited about food, flavour and discovery in ways we’ve not seen before and this presents marketers with many opportunities for the year ahead,” she said.
“A new value equation has been identified, driven by changing consumer perceptions of cost and reward that goes well beyond price. It can be used to ensure brands remain relevant and high on the consideration list in these challenging times.
“This year, we have also introduced a spotlight on video. It’s now a major force in the fight for attention and has the power to captivate and influence consumers still in discovery mode, an imperative to an FMCG brand’s content strategy,” Ms Nilsson said.
The report shows cost of living impacts have dealt a blow to household budgets forcing many Australian households to re-evaluate their priorities and make trade-offs. Two thirds of Australians are feeling worse off in their weekly grocery budgets, with young families hit the hardest, with almost seven in 10 stating their budget is in a worse position than 12 months ago.
Consumers are shopping around in order to get the best deals with 88 per cent shopping at more than one grocery retailer, and two in three shoppers are starting to plan their grocery shop in advance.
Changing value means more meals are being prepared at home with 51 per cent of respondents stating they will be dining in more in the next 12 months, and cutting back on eating out and using delivery.
With Australians spending more time in the kitchen, doing more cooking at home and trying new products and appliances – all of these areas present opportunities for the food sector.
Everyday 80 million data points are generated by the 6.3 million* Australians who connect with News Corp Australia’s network of food brands, from a search bar entry to each on-site click and social interaction, providing real-time information on what Australian’s are planning, shopping, cooking and sharing in food. This data is combined with primary research and industry reports, including News Corp Australia’s landmark food study Food D_Stilled. This is then layered with the expertise and foresight of the company’s editorial food experts.
Key trends identified for 2024
The new value equation
Australian perceptions of value are shifting as consumers protect the food ‘premiums’ that matter most to them. A new mindset driving consumer decisions is now being driven by changing perceptions of cost and reward.
- Cost – Price, time and effort. 63% of Australians rank price as number one or two in importance when making a purchasing decision. Time and effort are also rising in importance.
- Reward – Flavour, discovery, connection, convenience and health. Flavour is critical with zero tolerance for flavourless food. 22% of people now saying ‘Best tasting’ is even more important than last year.
Thought starters for driving purchase decisions through the new value equation:
- Connect the dots – Align with consumer social connection.
- Push the boundaries – People are adventurous and want brands to push the boundaries. Consider taking a classic dish and mashing it up with a current big trend.
- Unbox the value – Video is important. In 30-45 seconds brands may be able to tick all of the boxes of this new value equation.
The blended life
Life as we know it is now blended – work, office, generations under one roof. Even days of the week are blending, impacting how consumers plan, shop, cook and eat.
Opportunities around this trend:
- Base jumpers – These consumers are searching for base dishes like salads, soups and stir fries. Smart home cooks use base dishes to navigate different food preferences in blended households, starting with a base dish that works for everyone, then modifying it with different proteins or ingredients to suit dietaries.
- Perfect planners – Highly engaged, highly influential super shoppers who will respond to anything that gets them ahead of the game – from one-pot and freeze-ahead meals, to slow-cook dinners that will last them over multiple nights.
- Win the weekend – Brands that traditionally focused on weeknights, should consider their weekend personality and win the weekend. Consider how to help make home entertaining both easy and impressive and tap into that extended weekend headspace.
Switching, ditching, gamifying, or reaching for the tech. Virtually everyone is hacking life in some way right now, with varying success and with new-found awareness of their vulnerabilities – from finances to health.
Key areas where brands can tap into this trend:
- How-to hunger – Help consumers upskill, and become savvier. How-to recipes and explainers drive engagement as consumers go back to basics, and home cooking for ease and cost-saving.
- Personalise power – The power of personalisation has never been stronger. Health hackers in particular are looking to brands to answer their needs and offer a bespoke experience.
- Pantry minded – Pantry power is relevant even if your brand is not found in the pantry. For instance, could your brand be that secret ingredient that elevates pantry staples? Or could your brand act like a staple by increasing known uses and truly earning your place on the shelf.
Seizing the moment
Life’s rolling challenges over recent years has led to a new appreciation of the value of social connection and meaningful moments with food at the centre. Home cooks are now ‘moment creators’.
Key thought starters for this trend:
- Travel through food – Food is like the ultimate transporter, it can take you anywhere. Tap into this trend with recipes inspired by trending destinations. Consumers are looking for this type of content whether they are re-living a recent trip, planning an upcoming one, or just dreaming of getting away.
- Me time and us time – Consider how brands can disrupt the humdrum of life with simple moments and pleasures.
- The know-how gap – Entertaining at home is not easy, consumers need totally different skill sets to weeknight cooking. There’s high stakes and high pressure. It’s worth thinking about how brands can help.
Source: *Roy Morgan Single Source Australia; Apr 2022 – Mar 2023; P14+