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Rising urbanisation and an ever-expanding middle-income segment mean the Southeast Asian region will witness changes to consumption habits. Food options for consumers are widening and value systems are evolving, with much less inclined to cook at home due to lack of time, ability or interest – or a combination of all three. High-income inequality remains an issue in this diverse region, indicating the need for a wide range of products at different price points to cater to vastly different groups of consumers.
The at-home meal journey is evolving beyond the core purpose of cooking ingredients, staple foods and consumer appliances in sating hunger and creating food. It is becoming more essential that the time spent in the kitchen is efficient and enjoyable.
A faster pace of life and the advancement of food production also pushes ready meals into the mainstream market. Food delivery, meal sharing and meal kits disrupt meal innovation and access to food as consumer values, technology and business models evolve.
Food and appliance brands ought to be leveraging these drivers to capture the meal journey:
Healthy Living: Healthy lifestyle habits are becoming a more normal way of life as concerns over obesity, food sensitivity and disease continue to rise. Consumers in Southeast Asia may be motivated to prepare meals at home if nutritional benefits are clearly stated and outweigh efforts in food preparation.
Experience More: Consumers are increasingly prioritising experiences over things. This translates into desire for authentic and experiential cooking. Consumers in Southeast Asia are increasingly exposed to more exotic tastes and are more conscious of food quality. Cooking and eating is not just for satiety and nourishment but also a means of attaining enriching experiences using exotic recipes, ingredients and impressive tools. Food and appliance products ought to meet consumer desire for transforming cooking and entertaining into a more gratifying, high-quality experience.
Connected Consumers: Smart devices have ushered in a borderless internet giving consumers instant access to entertainment, knowledge and social sharing. Foodservice and the home kitchen have proven to be springboards for engaging the connected consumer in Southeast Asia, creating new opportunities in the B2B space (eg central kitchens). Appliance brands continue to make strides in engaging connected consumers in the kitchen, through introducing digital platforms that not only equip users with practical cooking skills but also inject positive emotion and “soul” into the cold artificial intelligence of connected products.
Buying Time: Time is increasingly a crucial commodity for today’s consumer. There is a growing segment of Southeast Asian consumers willing to embrace the convenience trend, but they may be held back by cultural stickiness to traditional food options and their ingredients. Balancing the time-saving factor of convenience foods with an element of freshness, could motivate more consumers to adopt the convenience trend.
The kitchen continues to represent the heart and pillar of many homes in Southeast Asia where home cooking will continue to thrive, albeit in different forms. Brands looking to capture the at-home meal journey in Southeast Asia ought to offer propositions that are engaging, healthful, convenient and meet different income levels.
Consumers in the region are culturally connected to food at home and to traditional options outside the home, making it challenging for them to adopt new food formats and cooking methods right away. However, as these ongoing trends gradually become more salient to consumers in the region, brands offering relevant propositions – while dispensing strategic consumer education – stand to benefit in the long run.
Understand how these global megatrends might take form in the Southeast Asia context with real world cases through the following strategic briefing: “Cooking in Southeast Asian Kitchens: Innovations in Food and Appliances.”