Last week we released our new Trends Report. We’ve identified 15 consumer trends for “the next normal” across four major categories: Food & Beverage, Consumer Lifestyle, Wellness, and Work. Today, we’re exploring the Food & Beverage category and the trends that have been shaped from our collective staying at home, and now, starting to venture out.

When COVID first hit the United States, we thought we’d be home for two weeks, and then two more, until the weeks turned into months. We started to reopen in different ways in different places with optimism and apprehension. And through it all, we have turned to food and drink as a coping mechanism, a life force, a celebration and a respite. Here are the consumer trends to watch as we move into  the second half of this wild year: the next normal:

  1. Barn to Table and Grow Your Own: Much like the Great Depression created a generation that reuses paper towels and saves plastic containers, the Pandemic has created a group of people who crave self-reliance and independence from big food, chain stores, and unreliable supply chains. Similar to the Farm-to-Table trend, the Barn-to-Table movement will see growth in consumers who want to buy local. They want to know how their meat was raised and by who. This trend is also fueled by the meat shortages caused by the pandemic. Likewise, we predict an increased interest in backyard and container gardening, brought about by fear of scarcity at the start of the national lockdowns.
  2. Beyond Meat: Also driven by the coronavirus crisis in meat factories, plant-based meat alternatives will move from niche to mainstream. Once seen as just for vegans, Americans will look for new alternatives – as long as they are tasty.
  3. Self-Serve: Craving social interaction, but respectful of social distancing, consumers will find a way to entertain and be entertained. Whether through front yard cookouts – where friends and neighbors can self-serve, stay outside and at a safe distance, or BYO – Everything meals at home with carefully curated groups of friends, people will entertain, but it will look much different. The Let Me Out & Lives will return to restaurants, but most will favor at-home with their selected “bubble” of friends and family.
  4. Beyond Bars: As consumers heeded stay at home guidelines, alcohol regulations silently shifted. Signatures on deliveries were waived in favor of contactless shopping, and open container laws were loosened while people partook in “walktails” or added a bottle of bubbly to their takeout orders. No doubt the quantity of alcohol consumed went up, but the quality is going up too. As consumers resolve to stay home more, they will look to expand their home-based bars with more creative cocktails and a broader range of choices.