The majority of Australians prefer to eat home cooked meals, are discerning about the provenance of produce and value the connection of food to family and tradition, a Carat and Nine study has found.
The Great Australian Bite, which polled 1,000 people about their food consumption habits, found that Australians value shared meals as a time to connect to family and friends.
The study provides marketers with clues on how to shape campaign messaging and creative to better resonate with consumers and when consumers are more willing to spend on food. It is part of Carat's Redefining Series and was carried out by Hoop Research Group.
It found that Australians care more about personal celebrations, such as birthdays and anniversaries, rather than seasonal holidays and nine in 10 Australians are more likely to splurge on food for special occasions.
Nearly everyone polled (97%) said dinner was a cherished time for families to connect, family recipes were an important source of inspiration for 76% of people and 86% value family traditions around food.
“Marketers in the food category need to think about memories as much as the meals,” 9Powered director of strategy and experience Mel Mullins said. “Our research clearly shows the family dinner is still as important as ever, and also that any day can be a real occasion.
“This represents a real opportunity for marketers to target their campaigns and emphasise the power of the real connection that is achieved over shared family meals.”
Carat head of insights Christine McKinnon said the media agency, whose food clients include Woolworths, Cadbury, McCain and Sanitarium, has noticed a significant shift in spending away from goods to experiences.
"In-home occasion-driven food experiences, such as ‘in-tertaining’, a return to childhood or cultural traditions, or a more pronounced emphasis on celebrations are a big part of this,” McKinnon added.
Families value specials
Half of respondents from families with young children said they were always on the lookout for bargains and will bulk shop when produce is on special.
One of the mums interviewed for the study recalled buying 20 kilos of chicken one time when it was reduced to $4.99 per kilo.
The study found Australians care about where their food is sourced with 70% keen to support locally produced goods and 60% willing to pay more to support Australian farmers.
It is unclear whether cost or provenance played a bigger role in purchasing decisions.
The research showed that Australians care about the nutritional value of food with 77% looking for low sugar or sugar free options, 69% concerned about fatty foods and 59% checking labels for low carbohydrates. This is reflected in a consumer shift away from packaged and processed foods towards fresh produce.
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