Cultural transformation of old stalwarts

There are stalwart eating occasions and products that we know and love – but that doesn’t mean they don’t need a transformation and shake up.

Our morning cup of tea or coffee, breakfast and evening cocktail are the perfect examples… these are essential features of our everyday, but how we enjoy them is changing fast in this ‘new normal’… therein lies a world of potential for innovative brands and retailers to explore. 

Rise & shine:

For many, a typical breakfast routine may be a croissant or sandwich from the local coffee shop on the way to work, or maybe a quick bowl of porridge at the office. However, breakfast routines are evolving as many are now working from home (at least for the time being). This doesn’t mean that factors like speed and convenience aren’t still on the agenda… after all, we are still working – alongside home schooling with increasingly hectic digital home lives.

From breakfast kits to frozen products to home delivery, there is now a huge potential market for in-home breakfast solutions.

Both traditional and contemporary healthy breakfast formats need to suit an increasing array of lifestyles and dietary choices such as plant-based, keto, low calorie etc as well as the COVID immunity drive.

During the COVID-era we’ve seen increasing evidence of the comfort and reassurance that a simple bowl of cereal can bring, exporting you to a different better time and place. We’ve seen this nostalgia move into a playful space as home bound cooks explore breakfast cereal as a flavour and texture in ice-cream, coffee and baked in cookies/ cakes.

Whilst comfort and nostalgia plays a role in breakfast so too does hybrid exploration as breakfast continues to be a playground for cuisine expression: think Mexican, middle eastern, Spanish or Asian at breakfast and of course brunch either at home or if venturing out of home.

 Sweet like coffee:

 We all love our morning coffee, but as our usual fix on the run to work has faded, we’ve had to get our ‘fix’ largely in home. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t get creative and have the experience at home.

For some people it could just be taking the time to make a perfect pour over or cold brew but for others it’s all about the flavours and additions perhaps making their own homemade salted caramel swirl iced coffee or whipping up a Dalgona foam – from Matcha to strawberry whip, social media feeds have been inundated with photos of all types of Dalgona.

Whilst the out of home routine of the long black or latte on the way to work may have been disrupted, those that are venturing out see a visit to a coffee shop as a treat, opting for drinks that help them escape with indulgent and experiential coffee based drinks that give hope for a better future. 

To some extent, the unabated love of a coffee is about maintaining daily rituals but at home; in fact, consumers are so dependent on coffee that they’re even buying it by the litre. On the other hand, it could all be about the need for an energy kick… and now we just have more time to play around with how we get the fix. 

Tea reimagined:

Tea… it’s basically a national pastime and nothing helps us unwind and regroup quite like a good old cuppa. Britons are actually said to drink around 165 million cups of tea per day –Now, that is just in ‘normal’ circumstances; during lockdown consumers are said to have drunk millions (and millions) more yet. Though for many people, it’s just not a proper tea break unless they’ve got a strong brew and biscuit on the go.

There is a new wave of tea drinks on the market looking to capitalise on our never-ending love of a tea: from functional teas which support with sleep, digestion, relaxation or even improve cognitive function to luxury teas that are rooted in specific rituals, geographies and plantations; ready to make or ready to drink cold/ iced drinks that explore texture and indulgence with tea lattes, nitro brew and soda.

There’s also wine and spirits that have been spiked or infused with tea. Tea is the perfect space where both indulgence and wellness can play. There is no set way to enjoy a cup of tea and indeed, many tea houses and cafes are taking a ‘treat it like coffee’ approach as no ingredients, techniques or formats are off limits.

 Next wave spirits:

Lately, the spirits industry has undergone a makeover; in large part thanks to the craft gin revolution which spurred on a wider craft spirit movement. Just as gin shook off it’s ‘mother’s ruin’ image to become to hipster spirit of choice, the likes of rum and tequila started undergoing a renaissance.

To set themselves apart from the crowd, craft distilleries started experimenting with flavour innovations and new techniques… think rum aged in sherry casks for example or new botanical and ingredient inspiration – what about sour cherry, Seville orange, kumquat or rhubarb? Shifting away from juniper and lemon, to Persian lime, banana peel, cactus or lemon verbena.

Consumer appetite for these crafts spirits seems unabated. And the same can be said for our love of cocktails; though it’s been more difficult to go to our favourite bars and restaurants, new ways to enjoy these is evolving at an accelerated rate…  delivered to your door, RTD canned cocktails, pre-bottled Negronis and so on.

Of particular relevance in summer 2020 and into 2021 are those drinks with the ability to export us to another time and place: think sangria, mojito, margarita, aperitivo and spritz. And of course, the previously highlighted trends in tropical are very relevant here… flavours like pineapple, mango, kiwi, starfruit and watermelon abound in spirits – so too are tropical and tiki cocktails like piña colada.

In this article we’ve highlighted the relevance and shifts that are likely to evolve and develop in the COVID-era through the lens of Cultural Transformation. By considering these shifts and how you as a business, brand, start-up or entrepreneur, pivot and adapt in consideration of them, will mean that you’re well positioned to succeed in this COVID-era in food and drink.