UK: Gourmet food: broader market appeal (COMMENT)
One of the most important trends in grocery over the past ten years has been the emergence of the market for organic, natural and fresh produce. This rapidly growing market stands as proof that today's consumers are prepared to spend a premium on food provided that they can see a clear value in it for them.
No more is fine food the reserve of Educated Cosmopolitans, whose lifestyle encourages them to try and replicate the restaurant experience in their cooking at home. Datamonitor's research reveals that other consumer groups are now taking an interest in fine dining at home, especially now that premium foods, such as such as shiitake mushrooms, corn-fed free range chicken and rosemary flavoured cold pressed extra virgin olive oil are appearing on supermarket shelves.
These new converted consumers are the Wealthy Seniors and Urban Singles. Wealthy Seniors have large disposable incomes, free time and the desire to enjoy life. Urban Singles also have large disposable incomes, due to their lack of dependents. They lack free time, but tend to want to make the most of the free time they have.
There are many ways for consumers who want the best out of life to spend their money: holidays, entertainment, eating out, driving fast cars or buying art, for example. However, fine dining at home is an increasingly popular choice. This is due to the influence of restaurants, the eating better and living better connection, and consumers' desire to explore new cuisines.
Restaurants influence consumers' views on what fine dining is. In the past, the emphasis on atmosphere and decor, coupled with the fact that haute cuisine and nouvelle cuisine were difficult to prepare, meant that consumers were wary of trying to recreate the restaurant experience at home.
Nowadays, however, restaurants have adopted a new approach. Emphasis has shifted to the authenticity, quality and freshness of the ingredients. Decor and service are also becoming much more simplistic. Consumers therefore feel this is something they can achieve themselves. Dinner party culture has also evolved over the last few years - gatherings have become more frequent and less formal and supermarkets are offering the ideal goods to suit such occasions.
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